First Nations leaders urge government action over 'deplorable' health conditions

OTTAWA - Indigenous leaders are pushing Canada to confront "deplorable" health conditions for their people as federal, territorial and provincial ministers prepare to meet in Vancouver next week to work on a new health accord.

See Full Article

Isadore Day, Ontario regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations and head of the assembly's health committee, said the state of aboriginal health is a crisis that must be confronted by all Canadians.

In a letter to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, Day also emphasized the need for full native participation in drafting a new health accord.

"I think it is really important for everyone to look at the truth," Day said in an interview.

"We are in the era of truth and reconciliation and I think that this is a major issue. If it wasn't for the Indian Act, if it wasn't for residential schools, if it wasn't for colonial policy, the health conditions of our people wouldn't be in this state."

Aboriginal Peoples continue to face serious health challenges, including high rates of chronic and contagious diseases and shorter life expectancies, according to Health Canada data.

Tuberculosis infection rates, for example, are five times higher among First Nations people and 50 times higher among the Inuit population, than among the general population, the department said.

It also said an estimated 278 new HIV infections occurred in the aboriginal population in 2014, representing 10.8 per cent of all new infections that year.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Philpott said there are a number of other worrying health indicators, such as suicide rates among Inuit youth.

"These are very serious concerns," she said.

"They are an absolute priority for me to address, but I can't do that alone because obviously provincial and territorial governments are also implicated in addressing some of these concerns. So we will be all talking together and seeing how we can make progress in terms of those gaps."

In his letter to Philpott, Day noted the minister is attuned to the First Nations health crisis "having spent so many years practising medicine in very similar, Third-World conditions of West Africa."

Aboriginal people often endure health conditions that people would not and should not expect to see in Canada, Philpott said.

"I think that you will find that they are, in some cases, comparable to the kind of levels you would see in less-resourced countries and that is not acceptable," she said.

"It is something we very much aim to address."

Indigenous leaders will be part of the talks on the health accord, Philpott added, though she did not have specifics on what shape this will take.

"I am in discussions with indigenous leaders across the country about the best way for us to all work together, provinces, territories, the federal government and indigenous leaders," she said.

Manitoba Health Minister Sharon Blady said she appreciates Philpott's openness to looking at how to include indigenous voices at the table.

"I really want to be able to see where the federal minister goes with this because I know how important it is for our people and to our provincial system here," Blady said.

"Our First Peoples live in conditions that are predicated on 150-plus years of unjust colonial practices that have had implications over generations and that puts an undue health burden on them ... it also puts a burden on the health-care system. It is an unfair burden ... they are carrying disproportionately."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Biden's low-key campaign style worries some Democrats

    World News CTV News
    WILMINGTON, DEL. -- The final stretch of a presidential campaign is typically a nonstop mix of travel, caffeine and adrenaline. But as the worst pandemic in a century bears down on the United States, Joe Biden is taking a lower key approach. Source
  • Hearing seeks to move protest shooter for trial in Wisconsin

    World News CTV News
    A 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faces a hearing Friday on whether he should be sent to Wisconsin to stand trial on homicide charges that could put him in prison for life. Source
  • In despair, protesters take to streets for Breonna Taylor

    World News CTV News
    LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Some of them raised their fists and called out "Black lives matter!" Others tended to the letters, flowers and signs grouped together in a square in downtown Louisville. All of them said her name: Breonna Taylor. Source
  • RCMP faces criticism over mask policy for bearded front-line officers

    Canada News CBC News
    The RCMP is facing accusations of discrimination because of a policy requiring front-line officers to wear properly fitting medical grade face masks which may not be possible with a beard. This has sparked calls for a change in policy after some front-line officers with beards — including Sikh and Muslim RCMP members who leave their hair unshorn for religious reasons — have been reassigned to desk duties. Source
  • Virus delays Rio's Carnival for first time in a century

    World News CTV News
    Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade, saying Thursday night that the global spectacle cannot go ahead in February because of Brazil's continued vulnerability to the pandemic. Rio's League of Samba Schools, LIESA, announced that the spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood. Source
  • B.C. woman dying of cancer can’t see sister because of COVID-19 travel ban

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- With just weeks to live, Charie Santiago has one final wish: to see her sister again. The 38-year-old is at home in Whistler, B.C., receiving palliative care for ovarian and uterine cancer. Her younger sister and best friend, April, is a world away in the Philippines, unable to visit because the Canadian government won't grant an exemption to the COVID-19 travel ban. Source
  • Australian think-tank finds 380 detention camps in Xinjiang

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA -- China appeared to be expanding its network of secret detention centres in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities are targeted in a forced assimilation campaign, and more of the facilities resemble prisons, an Australian think-tank found. Source
  • Canada's top doctors reveal flip side to public praise: 'I've had death threats'

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The top health officials co-ordinating Canada’s COVID-19 response say the majority of public reaction to their work has been positive -- but they’ve also received some abusive feedback that ranges from “well-thought-out insults” to “death threats. Source
  • 'We'll define our own moderate livelihood,' First Nation Chief says of Treaty right to fish

    Canada News CTV News
    SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. -- A week after a Mi'kmaq First Nation launched its own lobster fishery in southwest Nova Scotia, a Liberal member of parliament is breaking with his party, asking the government to clarify what's permitted. Source
  • CP Holiday Train won't roll across Canada this year due to pandemic

    Canada News CBC News
    Since 1999, the annual Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train has pulled into communities across Canada and the United States to raise money for local food banks. But like so many events deemed unworkable amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the festive train won't be leaving its station this holiday season. Source