Metis Nation—Saskatchewan calls for help to stop spread of COVID-19 in northern communities

Monday, May 4th, 2020 8:10am


Image Caption

MN-S President Glen McCallum


“This is now becoming a humanitarian issue.” — MN–S Health Minister Marg Friesen

Leaders of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan are “gravely concerned” about the spread of COVID-19 in the province’s north.

MN-S is calling on governments and stakeholders to help “minimize the spread of the virus before it reaches unmanageable proportions,” said MN-S President Glen McCallum.

“People are ill. Elders are being lost. We need a coordinated response. This is an emergency. The operations to respond need to be in place.”

He said travel restrictions in the north have not been enough.

The Metis organization is now providing more than $1 million in additional funding for community monitoring, isolation units and food security in its northern communities. That funding is on top of the $20 million MN-S reports it has allocated towards COVID-19 relief throughout the province

McCallum said he has not ruled out calling on the Red Cross and other emergency response units for field operations.

 “We need to work together to get out in front of this crisis,” said MN–S Health Minister Marg Friesen.

She said additional capacity will be needed “for the anticipated surge in the outbreak in the North in the coming weeks.

“This is now becoming a humanitarian issue,” Friesen said. 

A press statement from MN-S states the Metis government is working in full partnership with First Nations and northern Saskatchewan municipalities, and is part of the incident command centre established in Beauval to coordinate the efforts of northern communities to respond to the pandemic.

MN-S is supporting check stops, community containment efforts, mobile isolation units, supplying PPE, and addressing food security.

McCallum said the MN-S has been speaking with federal ministers, the Prime Minister’s office and all levels of governments explaining the potential for disaster in the north and urging them to assist in the effort to stay ahead of the spread of COVID-19.