COVID-19 Financial Supports

Did you know you can access financial benefits and support during the COVID-19 pandemic? All First Nation people have access to these financial benefits, regardless of where you live.

Service Canada launched a dedicated toll-free phone line for First Nation members who need help with applications and benefits related to COVID-19. Service Canada’s Outreach Support Centre line is 1-877-631-2657.

IMPORTANT: To access some of the benefits below, a tax return must be filed.

Indigenous Specific Supports can be found by visiting  COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities.

For a comprehensive list of all financial benefits that may apply to you, your family and community, visit: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Support for people facing unemployment, who are sick, quarantined, impacted by self-isolation or are unable to work

Employment Insurance

Temporary changes have been made to the Employment Insurance (EI) program to help you access EI benefits. These changes are in effect until September 2021.

Go to EI benefits and leave to find the benefit type that applies to your situation.

Support for Individuals and families

Mortgage Support

Mortgage support

  • Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19.
  • If that is your situation, contact your financial institution to ask about flexibility for a mortgage deferral.
  • If a lender approves a payment deferral on a Ministerial Loan Guarantee, no extra approval from ISC is needed, unless the terms and conditions of the payment deferral exceed the existing Ministerial Loan Guarantee.

Support for Indigenous Communities

Own-Source Revenue in Indigenous Communities Initiative

This initiative helps to partially offset declines in own-source revenues due to COVID-19. This funding will help First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities continue to provide core community programs and important services to their members.

The Own-Source Revenue in Indigenous Communities Initiative (OSRICI) is providing $332.8 million in funding to partially offset declines in own-source revenues so that First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities can continue to provide important community programs and services to their members.

The OSRICI is open to:

  • all First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities
  • self-governing and Modern Treaty First Nations
  • tribal councils or community governments

For more information and how to apply, visit their website.

Support for First Nations and Inuit Health

  • Funding for community public health needs in First Nations and Inuit communities can be submitted to First Nations and Inuit Health Branch offices in each of the regions.
  • Funding applications can be for measures including but not limited to:
    • Identified needs to update and/or activate pandemic plans
    • Public health and primary health care capacity to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak
    • Align response efforts with  evidence
    • Address immediate needs in the short term

For more information visit their website. 

Support for Emergency Management on Reserve

  • First Nation communities on reserve may need emergency assistance services that can be provided through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP).
  • At this time, EMAP assistance is dedicated to ensure the immediate health and safety response of First Nations related to COVID-19, in addition to other expenses that would typically be supported by the EMAP.

For more information visit the EMAP website.

Support for students and recent graduates

Starting October 1, 2020, you can apply for medical and parental leave if you are a student taking temporary leave from your studies for medical or parental reasons, including mental health reasons. Your loan will be interest and payment-free for six-month periods, up to a maximum of 18 consecutive months.

First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy

To help students continue their studies, the government will:

  • increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.
  • double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.
  • broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.
  • enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
  • extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

The First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy will support work experience opportunities for First Nations and Inuit post-secondary students until February 28, 2021 for the 2020-2021 program year.

Support for vulnerable populations

Enhancing the Reaching Home initiative

Enhancing the Reaching Home initiative

  • Shelters and other non-profit organizations can apply for funding here.

Second Harvest – Emergency Funding

Second Harvest has received an additional $8 million from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Food Security Fund, to help improve access to healthy food to charities and non-profits supporting people experiencing food insecurity. 

This funding is an extension of COVID-19 Emergency Relief which began in March 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, Second Harvest has provided over $20 million in financial support to community organizations across Canada. 

If you have funding questions, please email 

Eligible applicants must apply by February 28th, 2The application period for this funding has CLOSED on February 28, 2021.  Submissions received after this date will not be accepted.  Applications are being reviewed and status notifications will commence by April 9, 2021.

For more information visit Second Harvest’s website.

Support for Indigenous Businesses

Indigenous Business Stabalization Program (IBSP)

The federal government will provide funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Indigenous financial institutions.

The Indigenous Business Stabilization Program (IBSP) will be administered in Manitoba by the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund or call 204-942-6026 or 1-888-942-6026 for more information including an application form.

The IBSP can provide up to a maximum of $40,000 comprised of a 75% interest-free loan and a 25% non-repayable contribution. The loan and contribution are issued together. The loan portion will have to be repaid within 48 months from the time you receive the funding.

Indigenous Community Business Fund

Indigenous Community Business Fund

  • First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities and collectives can access funding to support their community-owned businesses whose revenues have been affected by COVID-19.
  • The Indigenous Community Business Fund will provide $117 million in non-repayable financial contributions to help support operating costs for First Nation, Inuit and Métis community-or collectively-owned businesses and microbusinesses whose revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund seeks to provide support for businesses that do not qualify for other Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures.It is intended to relieve financial pressure and allow these businesses and microbusinesses to strengthen operations and support their viability during the pandemic, with the goal of positioning them for recovery.

Relief measures for Indigenous Businesses

Relief measures for Indigenous businesses

  • The Government of Canada will provide up to $306.8 million in interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses.

Other Supports for Businesses

Support for businesses: access to other direct support through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Business support finder: access all programs your business might be eligible for in Canada including provincial programs