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Taking action to address critical PPE gaps in Indigenous communities across Canada

The effects of the global pandemic have impacted families, communities and business around the world. Yet, there are communities who have been disproportionately impacted and for whom the need for support is even greater. Within Canada, the rate of reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations living on reserve is 40 per cent higher than the rate in the general population – showing that those facing systemic social inequities and often living in remote areas are especially vulnerable.

BMO is proud of our long-standing relationships within Indigenous communities, including through our Indigenous Banking Unit and Indigenous Advisory Council. Being on the ground in these communities gives us a unique insight into the reality of the disproportionate pandemic impacts there. With that insight, Steve Fay, Head, Indigenous Banking and his team helped to identify First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities that were facing a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A cross-functional team then took quick action to help address critical PPE gaps for these communities.

“We know first hand how supply chain disruptions have made it more difficult to acquire PPE in recent months. Between January and February 2021 BMO has contributed nearly 150,000 face masks, more than 500 gallons of sanitizer and nearly 750,000 wipes to identified communities. Being able to get these supplies to the places they are needed most is crucial to combatting the pandemic. I’m proud of the way we leveraged our existing connections with Canada’s Indigenous communities to quickly deliver much-needed PPE where it can do the most good.”

– Andrew Cieslak, Global Chief Procurement Officer, BMO

The supplies were donated to First Nations and Métis communities across the Prairie region first, and later to First Nations communities from coast to coast and to Inuit communities across Inuit Nunangat. To help get the supplies out in the remote and hard-to-access northern regions, BMO teamed up with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).

“Inuit are especially vulnerable to severe impacts from COVID-19 as a result of long-standing social, economic and health inequalities affecting, among other things, the ability of many Inuit to access clean water for hand washing, and adequate housing for isolating if COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed. We all have a role in addressing these gaps, and I am grateful to the team at BMO for this contribution of personal protective equipment for Inuit regions at this critical time.”

– Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Our Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life calls us to help remove barriers and create a more inclusive society. For nearly 30 years we have had a leading presence within Indigenous communities – and we’re committed to supporting them with a spirit of inclusion, partnership and collaboration.

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