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

  • Saudi ceasefire takes effect in Yemen, no word from Houthis

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- A ceasefire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen went into effect Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the more than 5-year-old conflict. Saudi officials announced late on Wednesday that the ceasefire would last for two weeks and that it comes in response to UN calls to halt hostilities amid the coronavirus pandemic. Source
  • U.K. braces for more virus deaths; Johnson reported stable

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britons braced Thursday for several more weeks in lockdown as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in a London hospital after three nights in intensive care for treatment of his coronavirus infection. The British government said Wednesday evening that the prime minister was making "steady progress" at St. Source
  • Prince William and Kate video call children at school to boost morale

    World News CTV News
    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spread some Easter cheer to pupils and teachers at one primary school in the U.K. when they dialed in for a video call while the country is on lockdown. Source
  • Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and the world on Thursday

    World News CBC News
    The latest:Trudeau says physical distancing has been 'effective' but it's not clear when pandemic will peak.Canada's two major airlines — WestJet and Air Canada — are making use of a federal wage subsidy plan to hire back thousands of workers. Source
  • Half billion more people face poverty due to virus: Oxfam

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take “urgent action” to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday. Source
  • Without 'urgent action,' half a billion will be pushed into poverty, report warns

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take "urgent action" to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday. Source
  • Atomic bomb tests help reveal age of world's biggest fish

    World News CBC News
    Scientists have figured out how to calculate the age of whale sharks — Earth's largest fish — with some guidance from the radioactive fallout spawned by Cold War-era atomic bomb testing. By measuring levels of carbon-14, a naturally occurring radioactive element that also is a by-product of nuclear explosions, the researchers determined that distinct bands present inside the shark's cartilaginous vertebrae are formed annually, like a tree's growth rings. Source
  • New York's coronavirus outbreak came from Europe and other parts of the United States, study shows

    World News CTV News
    A Mount Sinai study shows the first cases of coronavirus in New York City most likely originated in Europe and other parts of the United States, the health system said. With more than 80,000 cases and 4,260 coronavirus deaths, according to the city's website, New York is one of the major epicenters for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Source
  • New White House press secretary downplayed pandemic threat, said Democrats were rooting for coronavirus

    World News CTV News
    New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in comments made in February and March, a CNN KFile review has found. In radio and television appearances, McEnany, in her role as spokeswoman for U.S. Source
  • People needing addiction services feeling 'abandoned' during pandemic

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's former provincial health officer says he has "grave concerns" about reduced services because of COVID-19 for people struggling with drug addiction, while the manager of a supervised consumption site in Toronto says people are feeling abandoned. Source