Exchange Income Corporation - Partnership with Indigenous Services Canada

November 30, 2021

Sustaining Northern and First Nations Nursing Services Through the Pandemic

As the reality of a global pandemic set in during the last days of March 2020, airline carriers across Canada began reducing flights, closing routes, and eventually parking aircraft.

Among the thousands of Canadians disrupted from their normal travel were the hundreds of nurses and support staff who routinely deploy from cities and towns across the country into First Nations communities, many in the North, to provide vital medical care.

Delivered by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), working in conjunction with provincial and territorial governments, the department's community health nursing program sustains nursing stations and medical clinics that are a lifeline in isolated communities hundreds of kilometres from major medical centres. Pre-pandemic, nurses would access commercial scheduled options to travel from as far as Victoria, British Columbia, and St. John's, Newfoundland, through airport hubs into more than 75 communities throughout the sub-Arctic.

But as routes decreased, flights dwindled and the need to ensure safe, quarantined travel increased, that lifeline became unsustainable using scheduled flights.

To maintain health and other professional services in remote communities, ISC and a group of federal departments needed a solution to maintain access to the communities they serve and needed a partner capable of providing it.

Like many companies in the early days of the pandemic, Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) and its aviation subsidiaries were working to figure out their place in Canada's new aviation reality and determining how they could
ensure vital services remained in place for the communities they serve. As an early mover of essential personal protective equipment
into northern communities, the EIC family of companies had demonstrated its "depth and breadth" as a national aviation presence capable of helping government, noted Philip Earle, Vice-President of Business Development at Air Borealis, and was well positioned to help.

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