TORONTO – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day has issued the following statement following a meeting with Health Ministers in Toronto on Thursday:
On behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario, I want to publicly commend Health Ministers Philpott and Hoskins, along with their senior staff, for the compassion and commitment they demonstrated at yesterday’s meeting which was a follow-up to February’s Nishnawbi Aski Nation (NAN) State of Public Health Emergency. The scheduled one-hour meeting went for over two hours in order to allow First Nation leaders to both express their concerns and present immediate, short, and long-term solutions.
Not only did the Health Ministers agree to immediately move forward based upon the proposed actions submitted by NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, they also vowed to implement the necessary measures that will finally eliminate the health crises faced by far too many of our communities in Ontario. Both Ministers stated that the current health inequities experienced by First Nations should not exist in a country as wealthy as Canada.
This week’s tragic and fatal fire in Pikangikum, which claimed three generations of one family, along with the ongoing skin rashes suffered by children in Kashechewan, only serve to underscore the poor health determinants – from housing to water – that have plagued our peoples for decades. While more nurses, doctors and suicide crisis workers are part of the immediate solution, the long term goal – as voiced by Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon at yesterday’s meeting – is to build happy, healthy communities for his children and grandchildren.
As chair of the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs Committee on Health, I will continue to advocate for immediate improvements to health services across Canada. The positive outcomes of yesterday’s meeting can serve as a template for federal-provincial jurisdictional co-operation across the country. We must provide hope today, and action tomorrow, for those approximately 100 communities across Canada that suffer Third World poverty.
We must build upon the renewed relationship at the federal level, as well as the commitments by all levels of government to act upon the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action – so many of which are child and health related. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to work together to end Canada’s greatest shame, and to begin building those happy, healthy communities that our People have waiting so patiently for, and for far too long. Together, we will continue to takes steps toward realizing the spirit and intent of the Treaties entered into by our ancestors, and build a better Canada for all of our children.