COVID-19: Local Government & First Nations Frequently Asked Questions

Communications & Information

Local Authorities and First Nations are recommended to follow direction from Health Authorities in regards to pandemic response. The BC Centre for Disease Control is the source of verified information related to COVID-19 and has a wealth of resources and information to support Local Authorities and First Nations: covid-19.bccdc.ca/

If Local Authorities are having issues connecting directly with Health Authorities through their EOCs, they should contact their EMBC Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC).

Health Authorities and the Health Emergency Coordination Centre (HECC) are doing their best to provide information as they can. EMBC recognizes that the flow of information from the province may not be as efficient as communities wish, we will ensure to communicate anything new as it comes.

For clinical questions regarding communicable disease management for First Nations, please email or call:
cdmgmt@fnha.ca or 1-844-364-2232 (toll-free, option 3)

The Province has:

  • Created a one-stop-shop source for information related to COVID-19. As the information evolves this website will be updated: gov.bc.ca/covid19
  • Created a new phone number for non-health related concerns to ease the strain on 811: 1-888-COVID19 or text 604-630-0300

The BC Centre for Disease Control is the source of truth related to COVID-19 and has a wealth of resources and information to support Local Authorities and First Nations: covid-19.bccdc.ca/

The Public Health Agency of Canada is another source of verified information related to COVID-19 in Canada:
www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html

The World Health Organization has a website dedicated to dispelling myths about COVID-19:
www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

For non health-related COVID-19 questions and requests from First Nations, please email: aadnc.iscbccovid19.aandc@canada.ca

First Nations Health Authority has information for First Nations related to COVID-19:
www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/information-on-novel-coronavirus

Indigenous Services Canada has information for indigenous communities on COVID-19:
www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1581964230816/1581964277298

Any further questions related to the emergency response for this event can be directed to their EMBC Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC)

 

Task: Costs of Operations & Eligibility 

A number of communities have enquired about section 14 (3) of the Emergency Program Act (EPA). The legal advice that we have received is that States of Local Emergency (SOLEs) are required to use any power that is necessary at the local level. If your community has decided to declare a State of Local Emergency, please have a conversation with your active EMBC PREOC. EMBC is tracking emergency powers being accessed by Local Authorities and First Nations, and some measures may make more sense if they are applied under the Provincial State of Emergency.

Since First Nations communities are not legislated by the EPA, the same legal implications do not apply. A Band Council Resolution (BCR) does not need to be implemented; however, First Nations governments may wish to enact similar powers as outlined in the EPA by declaring a State of Local Emergency through a Band Council Resolution.

Please connect with your PREOC if you intend to declare a SOLE or a BCR.

The declaration of the provincial state of emergency complements the work of our Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health in swift and powerful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EPA allows the government to secure the critical supply chains to make sure people have access to essential goods and services, and that infrastructure necessary in a response is readily available.

The provincial state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, but may be extended or rescinded as necessary. It applies to the whole province and allows federal, provincial and local resources to be delivered in a coordinated way.

The provincial state of emergency was issued on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. More information can be found at: news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PSSG0017-000511

The Province authorized task numbers to be issued for this pandemic event when the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Declared a State of Provincial Emergency on March 18, 2020. Local Authorities and First Nations should contact their EMBC PREOC to receive their task number if they have not already.

Policy 5.13 (COVID-19 Pandemic Response Task Number Eligibility) was released when the state of provincial emergency was issued and outlines what types of expenses will be eligible for reimbursement under task. If you have not received this policy please reach out to your PREOC.

Declaring a State of Local Emergency does not make a community eligible for costs outside of EMBC’s Compensation and Disaster Financial Assistance Regulation.

However, Policy 5.13 (COVID-19 Pandemic Response Task Number Eligibility) was released when the state of provincial emergency was issued and outlines what types of expenses will be eligible for reimbursement under task. If you have not received this policy please reach out to your PREOC.

The Province is the lead. First Nations communities must attain an EMBC Task Number by contacting their EMBC PREOC prior to submitting any resource requests or expenditure authorization forms to their local Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC). With the exception of clinical PPE and medical supplies (which go direct to FNHA), all other community requests will be sent to the EMBC PREOC for approval. If the request is deemed ineligible by the EMBC PREOC, EMBC will send the request to the appropriate agency.

There is no wrong door for requests—we will work collaboratively to ensure communities have clear guidance and that all requests are passed to the right agency.

Regular wages are not intended to be covered by Policy 5.13. However, overtime may be eligible for coverage for unavailable staff, in addition to regular or incremental wages to hire temporary qualified staff to continue critical services.

Policy 5.13 is not intended to cover PPE expenses. However, Local Authorities and First Nations should capture their incremental costs and submit these to the PREOC at the end of the event for consideration.

For First Nations, all requests for clinical medical supplies or PPE are to be requested through the First Nations Health Authority by emailing cdmgmt@fnha.ca. Further clarification on financial processes for First Nations communities is forthcoming.

 

Emergency Support Services & Other Public Safety Lifeline Volunteers

The Province’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) program has developed a set of guidelines for Local Authorities and First Nations to provide their ESS teams.

Emergency Management BC has released guidance for Local Authorities and First Nations regarding ESS and other Public Safety Lifeline Volunteers. If you have not received this guidance, please connect with your PREOC.

Additional Resources

The Province has established a Vulnerable Populations Working Group to address issues related to this, and anticipates developing strategies and providing some guidance to communities with regard to homeless and encamped populations, as well as those in supportive, congregate, or unstable housing situations.

 

Critical Supplies

There is a concern among essential workers and health care professionals about long-term access to critical supplies used for personal protective equipment.

The Province is urging the public to only to buy what they require to ensure professionals in the health and safety sector are able to access supplies to safely do their work in health and public safety.

The Province is aware of concerns regarding the supply of PPE for first responders. EMBC is working with internal and external partners on this important issue.

 

For Indigenous Communities

The First Nations Health Authority is strongly advising communities to cancel or postpone all community and cultural gatherings until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

First Nations Health Authority has provided guidance to support communities with this question: https://www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/fnha-fnhc-fnhda-advise-against-all-gatherings-to-prevent-covid-19-spreading

 

Other Audiences 

Destination British Columbia is compiling information relevant to the tourism industry, as well as a series of resources for hotels, small businesses and other workplaces regarding how to respond to and prepare for COVID-19. This information is available at: www.destinationbc.ca/news/coronavirus-update/

The Province is aware that offers from industry and private citizens to support local and provincial responses to COVID-19 are emerging at all levels.

If local citizens or businesses are creating innovative solutions to problems in their community, we encourage that to happen.

If offers require provincial or regional coordination, you may forward those offers to your PREOC for consideration or coordination at the provincial level.