Métis Nation of Alberta announces province-wide COVID-19 relief action plan

EDMONTONApril 6, 2020 /CNW/ –  The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has released its Interim COVID-19 Support Plan that is accessible to all Métis Nation citizens living in Alberta who have been impacted by the current global pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented time and many Métis Nation citizens and families, like so many all over the world, have been impacted by loss of income, home insecurity, school and daycare closures, mental stress and isolation, and other life-changing situations,” said Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

“The MNA is taking action to ease some of the stresses Métis Nation citizens and families are experiencing so that we can all wait out this pandemic in safety and security. We want you to know that your Métis government has your back at these trying times; we want to hear from you and we will help in any way we can.”

The MNA’s plan responds to some of the most immediate needs that have been identified by Alberta Métis. It complements other investments being made by Canada and Alberta while focusing on immediate supports the MNA can provide directly to Métis Nation citizens and families. The plan will be continually updated based on feedback received and as the situation evolves.

To get money and support to Métis Nation citizens as quickly as possible, MNA’s plan will be delivered through its province-wide self-government structure that includes the Provincial Head Office, the MNA’s six Regional Offices and MNA Locals. The MNA’s affiliates Métis Crossing, Métis Urban Housing Corporation, Métis Capital Housing Corporation, Apeetogosan and Rupertsland Institute are part of the MNA plan. The plan includes the following programs:

Citizens, Families and Seniors Direct Support Program
The MNA has committed an initial $1.2 million with $200,000 going to each of the MNA’s six Regions who will work in collaboration with their Regional Councils that include MNA Locals. This funding will allow each MNA Region to provide direct and immediate funding support to Métis Nation citizens and families in need. This program will allow each MNA Region the flexibility to allocate funds where Métis citizens, families and Seniors identify they need support, including direct financial and other supports. Métis citizens should contact their MNA Region directly with respect to this program.

Emergency Child Wellness Benefit Program
This program is designed for Métis Nation families with children who are newborns or up to 12 years of age who have been impacted by school and daycare closures due to COVID-19.  The program will provide Métis families a maximum of $500 per eligible child, to a maximum total payment of $2,500 per household, over three months to support child wellness. This program will run from April through June 2020 and offers one-time emergency funding in response to COVID-19. Métis citizens should contact the MNA Provincial Office at 1-800-252-7553 or 780-455-2200, email [email protected] or visit www.albertametis.com.

Emergency Rent Supplement Program
While some major lending institutions are providing mortgage payment holidays for those impacted by COVID-19, currently there are no such relief plans for Métis Nation citizens who are renting. This program, offered in partnership between the MNA and Métis Capital Housing Corporation, offers rental relief payments of $1000 per month for three months to provide financial relief to Métis Nation renters who are directly impacted by this pandemic. This program will be administered until funds are no longer available, and will be on a first come, first served basis. Métis citizens should contact the Métis Capital Housing Corporation at 1-877-458-8684 or email [email protected]. You can also visit www.metishousing.ca.

Benevolent Fund Top Up
For many years, the MNA has offered financial support to Métis Nation citizens who have lost family members. During this unprecedented pandemic, the existing Benevolent Fund is being increased to $500 per applicant. If families have lost members to COVID-19 and wish to apply for support funding, they can do so through the existing Benevolent Fund. Métis citizens should contact the MNA Provincial Office with respect to this program at 1-800-252-7553 or 780-455-2200 or visit www.albertametis.com.

The Interim COVID-19 Support Plan will be financially supported by the MNA, its affiliates and Canada’s commitment of $7.5 million to the MNA through the COVID-19 Indigenous Community Support Fund.  Currently, the MNA is awaiting receipt of these funds from Canada. In this interim period, the MNA and its affiliates will be flowing cash to components of the plan in order to meet immediate needs. The MNA will also be asking the Alberta Government to contribute to the MNA’s plan.

In a coordinated effort with the MNA, Rupertsland Institute (RLI) has established a Community Emergency Support Program (CESP) to provide $75,000 to each MNA Region to assist in the development of community-based responses to COVID-19 for three months. CESP is intended to provide immediate support during the pandemic and each MNA Regional Council will determine how to disperse funds among its respective Locals and citizens. RLI is also working in partnership with schools to provide Chromebook devices to Métis students to participate in Alberta’s virtual K to12 classrooms. Visit rupertsland.org for more information on the CESP.

All of the programs identified in the Interim COVID-19 Support Plan are available to the MNA’s more than 43,000 registered citizens, including their family members who may not yet be registered with the MNA as well as all Métis Nation citizens living in Alberta who self-identify as such and provide objectively verifiable documentation establishing that they are citizens of the Métis Nation. These eligibility requirements will be applied flexibly at this time of crisis to ensure those in need receive the supports they require, while also ensuring that this limited Métis-specific funding is accessed by individual Métis Nation citizens and families living in Alberta.

“During this time of crisis, we want to ensure no Métis Nation citizen or family in Alberta is left behind,” said MNA Vice-President Dan Cardinal. “Our plan is about directly investing in and supporting Métis people and families. It is responsive, preliminary and adaptable based on what we hear from Métis Nation citizens over the weeks to come and how this pandemic evolves.”

As COVID-19 continues to impact all of Alberta, the MNA is monitoring and will work with all relevant parties to provide updates to programming and funding as needed. For more information about COVID-19 and the MNA’s Interim COVID-19 Support Plan visit albertametis.com. Métis citizens requiring assistance or who have suggestions about the MNA’s evolving COVID-19 plan, can email [email protected].

Watch President Poitras’ announcement of this plan, Vice President Cardinal’s Cree translation, and an address from Health Director Reagan Bartel: http://ow.ly/qQ8C50z5Wtk

To learn more about how this plan can benefit you, visit http://ow.ly/dqPI50z5Wtl

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