The federal government announced an additional $650 million in funding for Indigenous communities across Canada on Friday morning.

According to Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, this funding is intended to help Indigenous communities cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Miller stated that the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 is very real, and Indigenous communities will be just as vulnerable to it as they were to the first.

The $650 million announced today is in addition to the $305 million previously dedicated to help First Nations reserves, and Inuit and Metis communities with supplies, medical care and facilities that allow for proper physical distancing.

During his daily address on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into more detail on what the additional aid will mean for communities, saying the money will be going towards healthcare, income support, and funding new shelters for women.

Of this, $285 million is new funding to support rapid public health responses in Indigenous communities when faced with an outbreak of the virus.

“Although we’ve made progress, there are still communities that are not properly equipped to handle a COVID-19 outbreak,” said the Prime Minister.

The $285 million will be used to hire more nurses, procure specialized support and work with a number of communities on community-driven responses.

Additionally, Marc Miller announced an increase in funding to the current on-reserve income assistance program of $270 million, in an effort to ensure the families who rely on it don’t have to choose between food and rent during the crisis.