March 17, 2020

(xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl = ilwətaʔɬ/sel= ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, BC – Mar.17, 2020): The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) acknowledges the efforts underway in addressing the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19); however, we strongly urge the federal government to escalate its response and implement clearer, stronger, and quicker measures to support vulnerable First Nation and Canadian communities. Given the continuously evolving nature of COVID-19 and the systemic social and economic inequalities that will leave Indigenous populations and other marginalized communities more susceptible to the disease, Canada must immediately move beyond social-distancing measures.

Canada’s actions should include: increasing and widely promoting testing for COVID-19 as recommended by the World Health Organization; announcing an Employment Insurance Benefit Plan that is flexible and accessible so that all employees and their families can receive paid, protected sick leave and other income supports; imposing strict screening processes at all airports and ports of entry to ensure healthcare can be provided freely and immediately to all people; closing bars, nightclubs and theatres in order to protect service-industry workers; transitioning dine-in restaurants to pick-up and delivery only; and developing and implementing outbreak plans for vulnerable populations and communities.