PEI

Ottawa 'forced' to rethink off-reserve pandemic support, says Native Council of P.E.I.

The Native Council of P.E.I. is pleased with a new announcement of pandemic support from Ottawa, and supports its national parent group in dropping a discrimination lawsuit.

No shortage of uses for money, says chief

The lawsuit forced the federal government to look at its program again, says Native Council of P.E.I. Chief Lisa Cooper. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Native Council of P.E.I. is pleased with a new announcement of pandemic support from Ottawa, and supports its national parent group in dropping a discrimination lawsuit.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples announced last week it was dropping its court challenge against Ottawa's pandemic funding.

In May, CAP asked for a judicial review of the money Ottawa had offered to groups supporting off-reserve and urban Indigenous people, arguing it was too low. In that funding announcement, CAP was promised $250,000 to split between its 10 members, including about $20,000 for the Native Council of P.E.I.

The federal government is now promising an additional $5.4 million, according to the Native Council.

"We were happy with the result," said Native Council of P.E.I. Chief Lisa Cooper.

"We forced them, backed them against the wall, to look at us again."

Housing a top priority

Cooper said the council has no shortage of uses for the money, including housing and shelter needs, mental health and addictions, elder checks, and family violence prevention.

There's a lot of people who don't have homes, she said. They're not on the street, but sleeping on friends' couches.

"In a time when we should be social distancing, it's hard to do that when you're couch surfing," said Cooper.

More people are at risk of losing their homes because they haven't been able to work, she added.

Cooper said she expects to hear next week what the Native Council of P.E.I.'s share of the money will be. The council hasn't seen any of it yet, and is not sure when it will.

Indigenous Services Canada has sent CBC News an email saying: "Successful recipients … were informed of the results on June 29, 2020. The funding will be disbursed to recipients in the coming weeks."

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With files from Island Morning

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