March 26, 2021

Agreement Signed for First Nations Vaccine Allocation

First Nations families in Saskatchewan will benefit from a new Memorandum of Understanding signed this week between the Government of Saskatchewan and Indigenous Service Canada (ISC) to coordinate COVID-19 vaccines to on-reserve communities.

"We recognize that many First Nations are more at risk and took steps to ensure the first vaccines were made available to communities in our northern and remote regions," Health Minister Paul Merriman said.  "We are very pleased to take this additional measure with this agreement to further protect First Nations residents through this collaborative approach to vaccine delivery."

The agreement will utilize existing expertise and facilities among ISC, Northern Inter Tribal Authority (NITHA) and First Nations communities to deliver vaccine to residents.  The allocation and distribution of the vaccine is a collaborative process between the Saskatchewan Health Authority, ISC, the NITHA and the Ministry of Health.

According to the agreement, the Ministry of Health will provide vaccine directly to ISC on a weekly basis.  ISC will receive 14 per cent of the province's allocation, plus a 20 per cent increase over population numbers, to allow for off-reserve populations who may return their home First Nation to be vaccinated.  ISC will work closely with NITHA to determine the allocation and distribution of the vaccines to on-reserve communities.

"We are  engaged in a collaborative process with First Nations leadership to implement the distribution and delivery of COVID-19 vaccine through ISC and NITHA to northern communities, " said Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller.  "No First Nations individual who is eligible and wants a vaccine can be missed - no matter where they live."

ISC and NITHA are committed to working in collaboration and partnership with First Nations leadership and health system partners to support a safe, effective and culturally responsive COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Saskatchewan First Nations communities.

ISC and NITHA will follow the current priority sequencing and have their own booking system and distribution to on-reserve populations.  Working in partnership with First Nations leadership, clinics on-reserve will be established that meet the needs of each community.

In several communities across the province, local First Nations are working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to establish culturally respectful vaccine clinics that will provide vaccines for any Saskatchewan resident.

This agreement will be in effect April 5 with the first vaccine shipments of that week and remains in effect for a year.