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The Department of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is using charter flights to transport essential service personnel and supplies for First Nations communities.

These flights are operated with stringent health safety protocols in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 spread to community members and service providers.

The department has leveraged airlines that are serving these communities and allow essential personnel to board at terminals.

Additionally, the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada have worked with Transport Canada and territorial governments to ensure delivery lines are open for transporting goods and essential services in the territories and Inuit Nunangat.

On 22 April, the first flights to First Nations with 45 nursing professionals were operated to and from 23 First Nations communities in fly-in communities in Ontario and Manitoba.

ISC minister Marc Miller said: “Providing these charters ensures that healthcare and infrastructure professionals, medical supplies and equipment required to maintain critical infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, will be able to access these communities.

“It also provides flexibility to support other community needs such as emergency management responses, food security or medivac services, as required.

“In addition to maintaining critical services, this approach also provides a much-needed revenue stream to airlines serving First Nations communities, helping to support their economic long-term viability. I would also like to thank the airlines that have made this unique initiative possible.”

In March, Canada’s flag carrier Air Canada started operating its aircraft for cargo-only flights through its Air Canada Cargo division to Europe.