The Saskatchewan Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indigenous Service Canada to coordinate COVID-19 vaccines to on-reserve communities.

The agreement signed this week, the government says, will utilize existing expertise and facilities among ISC, the Northern Inter-Tribal Authority and First Nations communities to deliver the vaccine to residents.

The agreement takes effect on April 5th along with the first vaccine shipment of that week and will be in effect for a year. All groups will be working on a safe, effective and culturally responsive COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Saskatchewan First Nations communities.

Under this collaborative effort, the Ministry of Health will provide vaccine directly to ISC on a weekly basis. ISC will be given 14 per cent of the province’s allocation, plus a 20 per cent increase over population numbers.

ISC will be closely partnered with NITHA to determine the allocation and distribution of the vaccines to on-reserve communities. The Ministry of Health says this also allows off-reserve populations who may return their home First Nation to be vaccinated.

Health Minister Paul Merriman says the Ministry recognizes that many First Nations are more at risk and they took steps to ensure the first vaccines were made available to communities in northern and remote regions.

Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller added that no First Nations individual who is eligible and wants a vaccine should be missed, no matter where they live and this takes steps to ensure that.

In several communities across the province right now, First Nations are working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to establish culturally respectful vaccine clinics that will provide vaccines for any Saskatchewan resident.