The head of the National Association of Friendship Centres says Ottawa should have a cohesive COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan for Indigenous people, including in urban areas.
Executive director Jocelyn Formsma says the federal government is co-ordinating with First Nations and Inuit governments to immunize those on reserves, but there is no national vaccination plan for Indigenous people living outside those communities.
She says Ottawa should consider giving vaccine doses to clinics serving Indigenous people living in urban areas, instead of waiting for the provinces to do so, and that more than 50 clinics run by her organization are able and willing to administer the shots.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccines doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective.
He says he will be working with provinces and territories to guarantee that they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts.
Statistics Canada says there are 970,000 Indigenous people living in urban areas across the country and one quarter of them live in poverty.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.