First Nations Health Directors Association


Maintaining Essential Services during COVID-19

April 16th, 2020

As we face the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, our strength is grounded in our collective sense of wellbeing and our First Nations perspective on health and wellness. Given the legacy of colonialism, it’s natural that we react protectively in the best interest of our people. We’ve heard how communities are using ‘two-eyed seeing’ to follow critical public health advice while drawing upon our culture and traditions to sustain them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

​​Working alongside the health professionals in your communities, you’re playing a key role to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our people. To ensure we maintain essential services during this time – keeping health centres, band offices and essential businesses open – and support your pandemic response plans, we offer these recommendations to Chiefs and leaders. We understand you’re making decisions that fit community needs; and we recommend that communities consider health services as essential programs, re-assigning staff or rotating work duties to allow for physical distancing in offices. As needed, deploy people to: 

• ​Monitor and/or liaise with the FNHA and local Emergency Operation Centres;

• Answer phones, direct inquiries, provide community bulletins and information via social media;

• Maintain accessibility to services and supports for vulnerable community members with high health needs;

• Provide support and act as liaisons for youth and Elders; and

• Provide childcare support for parents working in essential service jobs.

The FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA recognize how leaders are working in the best interest of their communities to make sure everyone is healthy and safe during this time. We raise our hands to you for providing leadership, reassurance and trusted information. A few reminders:

​• It is more important than ever to observe the public health guidelines that support our collective health. For the safety of everyone, rules and orders by the Provincial Health Officer regarding gatherings still apply, including in the case of funerals and memorials. We support these orders and advise against any gathering to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

• Review 1) the FNHA’s Community Guide for information on supports for community leaders (e.g, PPE ordering details, expense eligibility) and 2) Employers Guide to COVID-19.

The FNHA has provided correspondence confirming that Funding Arrangements have been extended and that funding releases will continue based on existing schedules to ensure services continue without interruption. Any questions can be directed to Tanya Duncan, Director, Funding Arrangements, at

Your FNHC regional representatives and FNHDA Health Directors are also a source of information and support during this crisis – please call on them.

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