Another telephone town hall was held Wednesday, April 1 to address questions and concerns regarding the ever evolving COVID-19 situation and the MNO’s responses to the crisis. The April 1 call provided MNO leadership updates on new resources and strategies to support Métis citizens and their families throughout the pandemic; a brief update on the status of the Self-Government agreement; and the existing work of the MNO at provincial, regional and local levels. The MNO President also addressed specific concerns from citizens on the line. Those wishing to participate in the next town call should contact Elizabeth Harvey, MNO Director of Intergovernmental Relations for information.
Reminder on available COVID-19 resources
The MNO strongly encourages citizens with urgent needs or concerns related to COVID-19 to utilize the new help line via email at COVIDhelp@metisnation.org or by calling the tollfree line 1-800-263-4889. Meanwhile, MNO staff continues its outreach efforts to reach vulnerable or in-need citizens.
MNO staff and internal operations
Health authorities and leadership maintain that physical distancing remains a critical strategy in slowing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the MNO has extended its remote-work timeline for employees to June 1. It has been reported that physical distancing measures could be in place for at least another 12 weeks, and the MNO, leadership and staff will continue to adapt its operations in the coming months.
All in-person client services have been suspended until further notice, however the MNO will continue to offer its regular programs and services to the best of its abilities over the phone or via online web-based channels.
At this point, all MNO Community Council Annual General Meetings (AGM) and upcoming elections have been postponed.
Both the federal and provincial governments have introduced programs to help temporarily support citizens until funding from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), or similar resources, can be made available.
Under the Indigenous Community Support Fund, the federal government will be providing $3.75 million in financial support for Ontario Métis; the provincial government, too, has allocated $100,000 in emergency funds. 100% of these emergency support funds will be going to support citizens on the ground and in communities.
Another $5 million has been identified within existing MNO services and programs, which will be reprofiled or tailored to meet citizen needs during COVID-19.
MNO Interim COVID-19 Support Programs
Several Interim COVID 19 Support Programs have been developed to assist citizens and families who have who have lost income due to job loss, sickness, self-quarantine, or are taking care of someone who is sick. These funds are intended to bridge the gaps in need for citizens that await provincial and federal government funding assistance.
These initial COVID-19 Support Programs will include:
- Income Relief Benefit
- Rental Relief Benefit
- Emergency Family Fund for families with children 12 and under
- Technology fund for families with children 6 and under
- Food security support for families with children 6 and under
A MNO COVID-19 Support Program poster has been developed and will be shared on the MNO website and via MNO Communications. The MNO has developed an online tracking system, online applications and other intake forms to support intake processes.
As a reminder, the MNO continues to deliver existing programs and services to support our communities. If you are in urgent need of support, please contact us at COVIDhelp@metisnation.org or at our toll-free line.
COVID 19 – Community Council Support Program
To meet the immediate needs of citizens on a local level, Community Councils will be eligible to receive $5,000 to ensure in-need citizens can access food, medicine and household supplies. A communique about this funding, as well as the parameters on this funding, have been circulated to all MNO Community Councils. In addition to purchasing food, medicine, and other essential supplies, these funds may also be used to reimburse delivery/travel costs for community volunteers, at a rate of $0.55/km. Questions concerning council funding should be directed to Russell Ott .
Other COVID-19 related supports
MNO has decided to waive application fees for citizenship and harvester applications received on or after Wednesday, April 1st until further notice. This temporary measure is aimed at easing the burden of managing COVID-19 and ensuring efficient access to MNO’s programs and services during this challenging time.
Other Information for MNO citizens and communities
For recent developments pertaining to COVID-19, including additional resources and supports for families, MNO citizens are encouraged to regularly follow the updates being published on the MNO’s dedicated COVID-19 page: www.metisnation.org/covid-19. This page includes information on programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Temporary Wage Subsidy for Small and Medium Businesses. We understand many MNO citizens are anxious over loss of income and economic instabilities caused by COVID-19, and may require immediate financial supports while applications for funding are pending.
Unfortunately, during times of crisis some seek to take advantage of a climate of fear and uncertainty for personal gain. At this time, we are encouraging citizens to be vigilant in protecting themselves and their identities against potentially fraudulent activities and/or scammers seeking to take advantage during these challenging times.
It has come to our attention that an individual or individuals posing as the MNO President have been soliciting money from Métis citizens via an unofficial, fake email account. This is an act of fraud. Under no circumstances should Métis citizens send money or provide any personal identifying information to this individual.
Safety reminder on best practices
Physical distancing and sanitary practices, such as frequently washing hands and regularly touched household surfaces, continue to be vital in slowing the spread of the virus within our communities. Anyone who believes they are showing symptoms of the virus must now self-quarantine for 14 days. This mandatory self-quarantine period also applies for household family members or those returning from travel.
Ontario officials are also advising anyone over the age of 70 to self-quarantine and not leave their homes to best protect themselves against the virus.
Citizens should also note the new fire ban taking place in Ontario. These new restrictions on all outdoor open fires — including campfires — are intended to alleviate the pressures currently experienced by first and emergency responders.
MNO self-government updates
All work being done to advance the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) continues during this time, and will include funding for regions to engage in consultations and the development of Regional Implementation Agreements. MNO Regional Councilors will be provided with additional information.
During these times, many may be struggling with the imposed isolation from their communities, family and friends. A feeling of social connection is critical for the mental and emotional wellbeing of our citizens, and we encourage you to reach out (safely) to others in your community. Brighten a neighbor’s day with a friendly phone call, or check in with distant friends or family who may be feeling isolated during these challenging times.
The MNO is also proud to have hosted its inaugural online “Kitchen Party” on Friday, April 3, with performances by Métis fiddler Brianna Lizotte and the Prairie Fire Métis Cultural Dancers. Be sure to tune into the next live-stream from the comfort of your home by checking out the MNO’s Facebook page. More information will be announced shortly.
Follow up from last call
Zoom accounts, a web-based video-conferencing tool, will be purchased on behalf of interested MNO Community Councils. Those with questions concerning Zoom and Zoom accounts should contact Hank Rowlinson or Glen Lipinski.
In addition to the COVIDhelp@metisnation.org email, extensions have been added to the toll-free line 1-800-263-4889.
- Mental Health & Addictions Support: 275
- All Other Health Related Concerns: 276
- Education and Training Support: 169
- Finance Support: 277
- Housing Support: 278
The next Telephone Town Hall for all MNO Councils is scheduled for Wednesday April 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM EST. Further details to follow.
If you have COVID-19 related concerns, need help accessing supports, or have questions regarding the Métis Nation of Ontario’s response to the pandemic please contact us at: 1-800-263-4889 (toll free) OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on April 6, 2020