THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy expressed support for a group of northern physicians who have given notice to the federal Health Minister that, effective today, they will stop following Health Canada policies that compromise the privacy of their patients.
“We thank these physicians for taking this courageous stand to protect the privacy of their patients and our members. Physicians must not be forced to choose between the violation of patients’ right and the provision of health services. The Government of Canada cannot give any individual or organization the right to violate patient privacy, and there is no justification for these policies which have unfairly compromised the privacy of our members for decades,” said Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy, who holds the health portfolio. “We are calling on Health Canada to halt this practice immediately and work with us to find solutions that ensure that the privacy of patients is respected. In the meantime, we will monitor any denial of service or compromise of access to healthcare experienced by our members.”
In a letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott last week, physicians outlined how detailed health information about their patients required by Health Canada clerks for patient access to medical travel grants is an invasion of privacy, and unjustly allows the bureaucracy to deny access to medical care.
Privacy concerns were among the issues addressed to the federal government as First Nation leaders and health officials presented strategic recommendations to address the health crisis in NAN territory to Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in April.