No doubt second wave of COVID-19 will hit Indigenous communities harder: Miller

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller speaks during a news conference Thursday June 18, 2020 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says if the systemic racism in Canada's health-care system is not dealt with, there is a real risk that First Nations won't seek care, or an eventual vaccine for COVID-19.

He says Indigenous people have become too used to just being treated -- quote -- "like garbage" when they go to hospital, and that is unacceptable.

The problem gained new attention with the death of Joyce Echaquan, who livestreamed racial slurs directed at her by the nurses in a Quebec hospital last month.

Miller says he's convening a high-level meeting with Indigenous leaders to tackle the issue, as communities brace for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government knows of 123 active cases in First Nations communities as of Wednesday, and a total of 768 confirmed cases since March.

Miller says there has been a huge spike in infection rates in Indigenous communities over the past few weeks, and is warning they will likely have a much harder time  than they did during the first wave.