December 20, 2016
(Ottawa, ON) – As ministers of Health and Finance continue to try to reach an agreement on federal health-transfer arrangements and the Health Accord, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is calling on all governments to work with First Nations to close the gap in the quality of life and forge a path to improved health and wellness.
“First Nations hold the right to self-determination over healthcare for our people, and federal and provincial governments hold a responsibility to work with First Nations on healthcare,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We have urgent priorities that need to be addressed, like mental wellness, access to programs and services, and the tragedy of youth suicide. We can work together to improve the health for our people, build support and capacity for First Nations, and reduce overall costs. This is good for all Canadians. I look forward to ongoing dialogue with all those involved in the near future.”
Healthcare for First Nations living on-reserve is largely a federal responsibility. However, provinces and territories receive funding for First Nations as part of the Canada Health Transfer funding formula to deliver First Nations health services off-reserve and in urban centres.
“From a national perspective, we are navigating the challenges associated with influencing these vitally important inter-governmental processes in a way that generates results for our people, while also respecting First Nations regional and community level authority and processes,” said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, who is responsible for AFN’s national health portfolio. “The AFN is developing a document called the ‘First Nations Health Transformation Agenda’ to inform the Health Accord and help guide relationships between governments and First Nations based on our right to health. AFN is working to organize an Indigenous Health Summit that will support First Nations in addressing their own priorities and building commitment from all partners.”
Discussions among provincial, territorial and federal Ministers took place yesterday but an agreement was not reached. While the provinces, territories and the federal governments continue to work towards alignment on the Health Accord, the AFN, the Chiefs Committee on Health and the AFN Task Team on Health Accord remain committed to pursuing the First Nations Health Transformation Agenda.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.