MNO All Citizen Town Hall Recap
March 25, 2021
On Thursday, March 25 Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Citizens from across the province were invited to an All-Citizen Online Town Hall for an update from MNO leadership. This virtual assembly is the second All-Citizen Town Hall to be offered to MNO Citizens, and provided key updates on items including recent Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) meetings; Covid-19 vaccines and rollout plans; a self-government update and next steps.
“I think this is one of the lessons that have come from dealing with Covid-19 – that there are many ways to connect with citizens and that we need to be innovative,” said MNO President Margaret Froh. “Technology allows us to create these province wide forums to provide updates and to answer your questions. And that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing tonight.”
The President’s Update first acknowledged recent celebrations, including the 104th birthday of MNO Citizen Albertine Roussin; and also recent losses within the community, such as Senator Elmer Ross and Métis toddler, Phoenix Cyr, from the Geraldton community.
Since the last Town Hall, several significant milestones have been achieved, including events such as:
- One-year anniversary of Otipemisiwak National Conference on Métis Self-Government
- A Place in the Circle, the first-ever annual Two-Spirit (LGBTQ+) Leadership Symposium
- Finding Unity Through Negotiation, a self-government simulation offered to Métis youth through a partnership with the Gordon Foundation
- Celebrating Community Ties: Women’s Leadership Gathering hosted by the MNOWC
The President also addressed national level updates, including a recent meeting on reconciliation with Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole; the signing of a Principles Agreement between the senior officials of the MNO, MNA, MN-S and MNBC on how to move forward on the important work of the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism (PBM) under the Canada Métis Nation Accord; as well as commenting on the on-going dysfunction within the Métis National Council (MNC) and the continuing calls by the majority of the Board of Governors for the MNC to call meetings of the Board of Governors, to call an Assembly and election for National President.
Recent MNO Community Council achievements were also commended in the update, including the Thames Bluewater Métis Council “Winter Harvest Hampers;” and additions to Georgian Bay Métis Council popular potato giveaway, whose offered farm fresh eggs and syrup were claimed within days!
In March, the PCMNO reviewed the foundational documents and that will guide the MNO in governance, and how these policies will complement each other while affirming principles established in the Statement of Prime Purpose for healthy debate and dialogue within the MNO. All work together to create safe, respectful spaces for Citizens to be fully engaged; and to strengthen engagement process in future development of core laws.
Featured in discussions were the Métis Rules of Order Revitalization and the draft Code of Conduct, which establishes an independent Ethics & Integrity Office to support development of a strong, Métis culture-based conflict resolution system. Revised documents and drafts that will need further input from Citizens.
Experts agree that we are in the third wave of Covid-19 in Ontario with increases in cases, hospitalizations, and spreading of variants (making up more than 55% of Covid-19 cases). Fortunately, the rate of infection for our MNO Citizens has been much lower than originally anticipated. Included in the Covid-19 update:
- Total as of March 17th was 173 COVID-19 cases in our community, with fewer than 5 deaths
- Overall number of cases remains under 1% of Métis Citizens, but we are seeing a higher proportion of our Citizens – 8%, who have tested positive hospitalized, compared to the overall Ontario population of around 5%
- New variants are reportedly faster and deadlier than the original virus, so we must remain vigilant and continue taking actions to slow its spread (i.e masks, washing of hands, and social distancing)
Please view the attached slides for additional information on Covid-19 and results from the Covid-19 survey.
Covid-19 Vaccination Update
Vaccination is another action we can take against the virus, and vaccines continue to roll out to Métis across the province. MNO COVID-19 Survey data reveals that most Citizens plan to be vaccinated, citing reasons like protecting themselves, their family and communities when choosing vaccination.
Respondents who are opposed to, or unsure, of whether they will be vaccinated listed concerns such as the speed of which the vaccine was developed, that these are new vaccines, and concerns about vaccine safety.
In response to these concerns, Citizens should know that:
- Researchers were not starting from scratch when they learned about the virus that causes COVID-19
- Scientists have been studying coronaviruses for over 50 years and already had existing data on the structure, genome, and life cycle of this type of virus
- Development of a vaccine was accelerated due to the global level collaboration, and the Canadian Government and other governments around the world rapidly funding research and investing in multiple companies and vaccine platforms at once.
- No corners were cut — before the Covid-19 vaccines were approved they were still tested on a large number of people through extensive clinical trials and met all the requirements for approval, including safety.
- Adverse reactions can occur, but represent a significant minority in those receiving the vaccine. Health experts have determined the benefits outweigh the risks.
To date across Canada, 2,830,164 doses have been administered and there have been 2,209 adverse events following immunization reported, representing 0.078% of all doses administered. Of these 2,209 events to date, 1,922 were non-serious and 287 (0.010%) were serious. With these numbers reported, government officials have concluded that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks.
*mRNA vaccines work by triggering antibodies which help fight the infection if exposed to the virus and greatly reduces the risk and causes milder symptoms.
** Vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (vector) to instruct cells to produce a harmless piece of the virus, known as a spike protein, which then triggers our immune system to produce antibodies
Vaccines, like any medication, can cause side effects. The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are mild and include:
- Redness or swelling at injection site
- Sore arm
- Feeling achy and tired
- Mild fever
MNO Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout
The MNO team working on vaccine clinic information is in ongoing contact with all 34 Public Health Units and are working to provide updates to Citizens daily through the MNO website.
- Of these 34 Public Health Unit areas, we have received 61 vaccine clinic notifications.
- All 34 Health Units have available booking for Adults 75+ through the Provincial booking system and/or through their individual booking system
- 13 Health Unit have clinics available to Indigenous Adults 55+ and 12 have availability to Indigenous Adults 18+.
- There is currently a Pilot Project at pharmacies in Windsor, York, Toronto, and Kingston for Adults 60-64 years of age
- By April 2021, 1,500 pharmacies across the province will be on-boarded to provide vaccines.
- Of these 34 Public Health Unit areas, we have received 61 vaccine clinic notifications.
The Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 Booking and Information page is now live: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine. Currently, you can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment if you are 80+ years of age. Métis under 80 years of age are still being referred to their local Public Health Unit, which can be found on our website: https://www.metisnation.org/news/covid-vaccine-clinics-across-ontario/ .
To arrange travel to any of these clinics please contact Shelley Gonneville at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the MNO’s Covid-19 Support Line is there for any Citizen to reach out: 1-800 263-4889 or email at email@example.com
MNO Covid-19 Support Programs Update
From early on, MNO staff were quick to mobilize and develop a suite of services to support the Métis community, and, in January, introduced additional help programs (Covid 2.0) based on Citizen’s needs. Staff are currently working overtime to process all incoming applications in a timely matter. To date, the MNO has:
- Received over 1,356 applications and supported over 1,500 Métis children
- Dispersed just under $6M in core Covid-19 supports to Citizens, and over half since the launch of our Covid-19 2.0 programs in January.
- Most of these are income relief, emergency family funds and food security help, with over $1.3M in food security support alone
- Shipped out almost 500 Early Learning Kits with a new batch ready for distribution April 16 and 500 more kits ordered
- Shipped out over 1,200 Back to School Kits –and are still accepting applications online
- Partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide free books to almost 300 Métis children
- Shipped out over 400 Covid-19 Care Kits to Citizens who are dealing with Covid-19 or family members at high risk
Other notable Covid-19 support programs and funds for Métis families include:
MNO K-12 Education Support Fund is still open for applications until March 31 – to date we’ve already helped almost 1,500 children, 925 families with over ¾ of a million dollars allocated already – and that program will re-open again in August 2021 for the new school year!
MNO Early Learning and Childcare Covid-19 Program covers 100% of the childcare fees for families who qualify – so far 144 families have been approved and another 24 are in final review – under this program we have committed $70K in child care payments per month to support MNO families!
MNO Covid-19 Child Care Support Stipend Program provides additional support – we are currently helping 160 families with another 10 families applications in final review – and that program is also available to families who need to self-isolate due to Covid-19 exposure within a classroom
MNO Extra Curricular Fund helps cover the costs of kids’ extracurricular activities for kids 18 and under – the program window for the 2020 fund is closing March 31. To date under this program we’ve helped almost 400 kids aged 12 and under, and about 150 kids in the 13-18 age range with a total commitment of just under $600K!
Other supports include MNO Family Support Fund and Technology Support Fund (for Métis youth 18 and younger); and the MNO Food Security Fund.
Additionally, Citizens struggling with mental health issues are encouraged to use the MNO’s
Mental Health & Addictions 24 hr- Crisis Line: 1-877-767-7572
A list of all available support programs can be found on the MNO’s website https://www.metisnation.org/covid-19-support-programs/
MNO Self-Government Update
The All Citizen Telephone Town Hall update concluded with a review of Métis Self-Government and the significance of the historic agreement signed with Canada in June 2019. In addition to providing the background and context for the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement, President Froh also addressed the next steps for community engagement.
A full report on the Self-Government update discussed during the All Citizen Town Hall can be found at this link.