Health Ministers and First Nations must work together to prevent jurisdictional gaps

(Winnipeg, MB) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart participated in the meeting last month of National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs) and Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health, stating that they all must work together to close jurisdictional gaps to ensure all First Nations have access to healthcare supports and services, and that their care incorporates and values First Nations cultures.

“If we are truly committed to reconciliation, then we must ensure that all First Nations children and citizens have access to equitable supports and services that are provided to other people in Canada,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who oversees the Social (Child and Family Services) portfolio for the AFN.

“This means equitable access and equitable outcomes. It means recognizing that First Nations cultures, teachings and knowledge hold important lessons in how our children become well. The health of our people is a key test for the success or failure of our collective efforts at reconciliation.”

Regional Chief Hart focused his remarks on June 29, 2018 on two key areas for action: Jordan’s Principle and the implementation of the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework (FNMWCF).  In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the Government of Canada to fully implement Jordan’s Principle so that all First Nations children have access to essential services without jurisdictional delays, disruptions or denials. It is now a principle in Canadian law.

The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework is designed to strengthen First Nations mental wellness programming and support appropriate integration between federal, provincial and territorial programs to ensure a continuum of culturally-relevant programs and services.  The Framework gives guidance how programs can work together across jurisdictions and across the social determinants of health to build strong Nations built on culture and community strength.

“The connection between these two priorities is that implementing Jordan’s Principle and the development of effective First Nations mental wellness systems requires involvement from the provinces and territories – not just the federal government – to close the jurisdictional gaps,” said AFN Regional Chief Hart.

“Everyone at the table must work together to ensure First Nations children and citizens don’t fall through the gaps. Lives are at stake. No child should be without care or services.”

The FTP Health Ministers meet on a regular basis to discuss emerging and priority issues. This is the fourth meeting that Indigenous NIOs have been invited as part of the agenda. The AFN maintains that governments must work with all First Nations within their provinces and territories.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizen

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