Bob Nault – Health Crisis in Northern Communities

Parliament Hill

KENORA – Politics – Over the last few months I’ve traveled extensively to a number of the First Nations up north in the riding. What were once small communities, are now bustling with hundreds sometimes thousands of people. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders and the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority have declared a health care crisis.

These communities are all serviced by tiny nursing stations with only a handful of employees helping dozens of people each day. The 2015 Auditor-General’s report found that only one of the 45 nurses in their sample, had completed all five of Health Canada’s mandatory training courses.

It’s astounding to me that the previous government let this go on for so long. They essentially cut off northern First Nation communities from what every Canadian has a right to and that is access to essential health services.

Now we’re seeing diseases killing First Nation community members that anywhere else would be treated quickly and effectively. Things like diabetes, rheumatic fever and other bacterial infections, and it’s unacceptable.

So, what can we do about this? First, I will fight for the Auditor General’s April recommendations on on- reserve health care to be fully implemented. This is the only way we can move forward and prevent perfectly treatable diseases from killing dozens of people.

We also need to work towards a new hospital in Kenora, one that includes First Nations communities. A new facility that includes Treaty 3 communities will mean better health care for all residents in the Kenora area.

In Sioux Lookout, we need to kick start the four-party process to achieve Phase II of the regional health care vision. This will help us to expand much-needed home care and elder care services, among other things.

In the end, it is clear that we need a new strategy to administer health care services in First Nations communities across our riding. It needs to go beyond traditional nursing stations and towards a more holistic approach on First Nations health. An approach that includes a strategy to provide services on mental health, addiction, suicide prevention, and preventative care grounded in Anishinabe ways that address the specific needs of each community.

Bob Nault MP

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