Protecting Indigenous Health and Supporting Healthy Indigenous Communities


May 20, 2020

The Honourable Marc Miller, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Indigenous Services


Dear Minister,

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed how economic inequality affects the ability of many communities to withstand the impacts of this national and international crisis.

It should come as no surprise that the impacts of systemic racism, discrimination, and a legacy of colonialism have created the conditions for racialized and Indigenous groups to become at higher risk of public health outbreaks.

Poor labour market outcomes (e.g. low-wage service sector work and precarious jobs) results in greater risk of poverty, lack of affordable quality housing, food insecurity, and less access to health care services – all factors that contribute to poor health and elevated risk of illness and disease.

For many Indigenous communities, chronic poverty compounded by the lack of clean drinking water, inadequate housing, lack of accessible and appropriate Indigenous-centered health service,s and proximity to environmental contaminants also severely compromise personal and community health.

On behalf of Unifor, we call on you, and on the federal government, to ensure that appropriate health data is collaboratively collected and shared with Indigenous communities in alignment with The First Nations Principles of OCAP (ownership, control, access and possession) processes in their communities.[1]

This data collection must be used to facilitate immediate action to ensure that increased funding and resources are provided to Indigenous communities across the country to support critical areas as called for by the Assembly of First Nations in their declaration of a State of Emergency on March 24, 2020.

We look forward to your positive response.


Jerry Dias

Lana Payne

Renaud Gagné

National President

National Secretary-Treasurer

Quebec Director

[1] The First Nations Information Governance Centre. Ownership, Control, Access and Possession (OCAP™): The Path to First Nations Information Governance. May 2014. (Ottawa: The First Nations Information Governance Centre, May 2014).