OTTAWA – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is reigniting its call for transformational change to First Nations healthcare in the wake of a growing opioid crisis that is disproportionally affecting First Nations communities. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chair of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Health, have expressed deep concern over the crisis and the lack of measurable action to counteract it.
Opioid Use at Crisis Levels
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde states “First Nations have waited far too long for adequate healthcare and mental wellness supports. There is a clear connection between the social determinants of health and substance use. If Canada is serious about fostering a better future for First Nations families, then we need to work together to achieve transformational change to healthcare, led by First Nations, and supported by all parties.”
AFN Ontario Regional Chief Day will present a detailed submission to Health Canada’s Opioid Conference and Summit being held this week in Ottawa to set out First Nations priorities to address the crisis.
Chief Day says, “Lives will remain in jeopardy until Canada commits to reducing opioid use among First Nations. We urgently need community-based, culturally-specific prescription drug abuse treatment programs. We want meaningful engagement to secure an open dialogue and logical solutions between healthcare providers and First Nations communities. Only when these vital pieces are in place will First Nations begin to see a reduction in opioid use.”