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Systemic Inequities Increase Covid-19 Risk for Indigenous People in Canada

Challenges Include Barriers to Healthcare, Adequate Housing and Resources

Roxanne Moonias, mother to an infant with a chronic illness, demonstrates one of the steps she takes to ensure her baby is not exposed to contaminants in the water. Roxanne lives in Neskantaga First Nation and says that it takes her an hour each time to properly wash and rinse his bottles.  © 2015 Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch

Across Canada, public health officials are expressing cautious optimism that. But Canadians should recognize Indigenous communities are .

Canada’s record in protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples is abysmal. And it is precisely because of the systemic inequities and discrimination these communities face that Indigenous people may bte365官网官网 from Covid-19.

Federal and provincial governments have urged and as Canada’s best defense against the virus. But, as Human Rights Watch has documented, many First Nations communities lack access to clean water and inadequate funding for on-reserve housing has led to , making social distancing difficult. In urban settings, Indigenous people are also overrepresented in populations at heightened risk of Covid-19: , , and people .

Indigenous people in Canada also have high rates of such as or – diseases associated with or . According to , “People ill with both TB and Covid-19 may have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if TB treatment is interrupted.” Patients with diabetes severe illness from Covid-19.

Many Indigenous people also face . In remote Northern communities, many nursing stations are and understaffed. Travel to medical centers is expensive and challenging due to current . Some Indigenous communities also do not have access to the (PPE) they need – and this does not even begin to cover the these communities will face moving forward.

Later this year, Human Rights Watch will release a report documenting how climate change is impacting access to food in remote Indigenous communities. by the pressures of Covid-19, especially in communities that rely on long-distance deliveries to replenish food stocks.

bte365官网官网While the Canadian to address some concerns, deeper reforms are in order.

Authorities should work to dismantle barriers to health care for Indigenous people and ensure are being deployed equitably.

Crucially, the government should involve Indigenous people in creating solutions to address their specific needs, in ways that respect their rights, and end paternalistic approaches that have harmed them. Canada needs to work with Indigenous governments to decrease the impact of this pandemic, and so that Indigenous communities can look forward to healthy futures in which they are resilient to emergencies.

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