Good afternoon. We appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today.
Cameco is headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is one of the world's largest producers of uranium for nuclear energy. The vast majority of this uranium, of course, comes from our extensive mining and milling operations in northern Saskatchewan. Cameco also owns refining, conversion and fuel fabrication facilities in Ontario that are part of the global nuclear fuel cycle. Uranium powers one in every 10 homes in Canada and one in every 23 homes in the United States.
Cameco is also one of the largest employers of indigenous people in Canada. Our success depends on the long-term positive partnerships we have built with first nation and Métis communities where we operate, particularly in the northern part of our province of Saskatchewan. Our indigenous partnerships are examples of the win-win benefits that can be achieved when a company and communities work together. These strong relationships and this trust, built over decades, help us respond with communities in times of crisis.
Our response to the pandemic was guided by ongoing dialogue with indigenous chiefs, along with community leaders and public health officials. It became very clear early in the pandemic that our partner communities in northern Saskatchewan were in need of significant assistance, so in April we established a $1-million COVID-19 relief fund to provide assistance in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan. We granted money to more than 67 different community projects in more than 40 different communities, totalling $1 million. We also shipped more than 1,000 care packages and PPE to northern indigenous communities in our province. Unfortunately, it did not come close to meeting the demand. We received an overwhelming number of requests: 581 applications for more than $17 million in funding.
To be clear, COVID-19 has also hit us at Cameco. We put our Cigar Lake mine, our only and last remaining uranium mining facility in Saskatchewan, and a portion of our Ontario operations into care and maintenance. This action was taken in collaboration with our partner communities to protect the health and safety of both our employees and those in our neighbouring communities. Unfortunately, production remains suspended at Cigar Lake.
Despite these incredibly difficult operating decisions, which have essentially resulted in zero Canadian production for us, Cameco has not laid off any employees during this shutdown. The majority of the Cigar Lake employees sit at home right now receiving 75% pay, entirely paid for by Cameco. We have hundreds of corporate office employees who are also at home receiving 100% pay from Cameco.
Our mines and mills require a healthy supply chain in order to operate. Roughly 80% of the goods and services used at Cameco's operations, which total almost $4 billion over the last decade or so, are procured from northern and indigenous businesses. This supply chain includes airline partners to shuttle contractors and employees to site, contractors to deliver goods and services to our sites, and communities to draw workers from.
Even though our operations in the north are in care and maintenance, our northern business partners need to remain financially and operationally viable in order to be available when this pandemic subsides and we return to uranium production. Governments can help ensure that the supply chain is active by investing in northern infrastructure projects to keep these businesses going and their workers employed.
We're really happy to see the federal and provincial governments come together to fund phase 1 of the Wollaston Lake road, but the transition to full economic recovery is going to take a lot more. We are therefore supporting three shovel-ready infrastructure projects put forward by our northern indigenous communities. They include Hatchet Lake first nation, which is proposing phase 1(b), phase 2 and phase 3 of the Wollaston Lake road; Fond du Lac first nation, which is proposing widening and lengthening its airstrip; and English River First Nation, which is proposing a recreation complex near Saskatoon.
Our northern air carriers have also been hit hard through this, yet they are vital to our industry and to the communities they serve. We are therefore asking the federal government to consider extending the $17 million in funding it is giving to air carriers north of 60 to also include those air carriers that are primarily operating in the northern parts of provinces.
In conclusion, we're making three recommendations to this committee. Number one, we recommend that the committee recognize the opportunities that exist in northern and indigenous businesses and consider the economic impacts to our business if these northern businesses fail during COVID-19. We also ask the committee to advocate for infrastructure investments that support northern and indigenous-owned businesses, including the three shovel-ready projects we just mentioned. Finally, we recommend that the committee support expanding federal assistance to air carriers operating in the northern parts of provinces.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We look forward to your questions.