Feds couldn't keep up with Indigenous communities' demand for nurses, paramedics: AG

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OTTAWA — The auditor general says the federal government was unable to meet more than half of the demands for nurses and paramedics from Indigenous communities and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report tabled in Parliament today, Karen Hogan also says Indigenous Services Canada didn't have complete and accurate data on how much personal protective equipment it had available when the pandemic began.

It also didn't have enough of some items, including gloves and hand sanitizer, but it was able adjust its approach to respond to the needs of the Indigenous communities.

She says the department was able to step up with these supplies and ship them to Indigenous communities and groups when provinces and territories were unable to do so.

The department also expanded access to contract nurses and paramedics to all Indigenous communities and streamlined its hiring processes, according to the audit.

But with increasing demand, the department was unable to meet more than half of the 963 of the requests for such personnel to be made available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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