KENORA – “I’m happy to see the government commit to working together with First Nations on a health transformation; we still have a long way to go,” said, the Honourable Bob Nault, Member of Parliament (Kenora riding), applauds the signing of the Charter of Relationship Principles Governing Health System Transformation in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Territory signed today in Ottawa.
“I was pleased to hear Ontario Health Minister, Eric Hoskins, state that healthcare cannot be an issue of jurisdiction, which has been the case for far too long,” said Nault. “With this commitment today I am hopeful that the $1.6 million announced by the province to hire 20 full-time mental health workers for Pikangikum First Nation will be a sign of a renewed relationship with Indigenous people. It’s long overdue.”
Today, federal Minister of Health, Jane Philpott and Ontario Minster of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins, met with Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of (NAN) in Ottawa to sign the Charter which is a shared commitment to advancing progress and creating stronger accountability for outcomes among the federal and provincial governments and NAN leadership. It sets out common objectives and commits partners to work collaboratively to design innovative solutions, transform the delivery of healthcare to First Nations communities, and support First Nations-driven health systems.
In concrete terms, the Charter will support the alignment of federal and provincial resources and supports so that they better address the health priorities of NAN communities. For example, it will create a process that would review the urgent health needs identified by NAN and other First Nations health entities within NAN territory in order to prioritize actions. The Charter is accompanied by an action plan that documents and tracks investments, outcomes and actions.
“First Nation communities within NAN have been dealing with tragic crises, particularly over the last several months,” concluded Nault. “Both the Charter signed today, and a work plan, which is currently being developed, is a step in the right direction to address healthcare in northern and rural communities.”
* All parties committed to the development of the Charter following the declaration of public health emergency by the NAN and the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority on February 24, 2016.
* Other actions that have been taken by the federal and provincial governments and NAN leadership since February 2016 include a commitment to:
* jointly identify health priorities for communities in the NAN, and undertake joint health planning and strategy development for health system transformation; and
* implement health service integration projects that increase First Nations control and/or strengthen federal-provincial health service integration.
* The Government of Canada has made recent investments in NAN territory to support crisis response and mental wellness teams. Just over $7 million has been committed to date in 2017/18; as well as $4.4 million in approved NAN Choose Life applications under the Jordan’s Principle Child First Initiative. Choose Life is geared to First Nations children and youth in Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities who are at risk of suicide. The goal is to implement a simplified process to access funding for mental health services.
* The Government of Ontario has invested in the Ontario First Nations Health Action Plan, including over $222 million in new investments over three years; and $104.5 million on-going.