From Left: ORC Stan Beardy, National Chief Shawn Atleo, Chief Peter Moonias, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno
Ontario First Nations leadership and communities have expressed concerns that the abuse of certain prescription drugs has become an epidemic in First Nations communities. This epidemic is affecting communities and family structures through increased violence, theft, divorce, loss of needed human resources, plus a host of other negative social problems. In response to these concerns and the absence of Health Canada policy to address prescription drug abuse, Chiefs in Assembly passed Resolution 08/68. The Resolution provides direction to the Ontario Regional Chief and the Ontario Chiefs Committee on Health to work with First Nations and Inuit Health (FNIH) towards the development and implementation of a policy to address the epidemic of the prescription drug abuse.
The Advisory Panel has produced the First Nations Drug Abuse Strategy, that establishes a strategic action plan for negotiation with the Federal and Provincial Government to address the Prescription Drug Abuse epidemic in Ontario First Nation communities. Prescription drug issues are unique from other health issues and cross other jurisdictions, such as the College of Physicians, College of Pharmacists, Policing, Justice, Education, Research and more. The Prescription Drug Abuse Strategy builds upon existing research and practices to formulate an action plan for the prevention, reduction and elimination of Prescription Drug Abuse in Ontario First Nation communities. The Strategy includes approaches to address the complex factors that contribute to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Since this Strategy requires an intergovernmental and interdepartmental response, this is a call for partnerships or collaborations from both the public and private sector. The Advisory Panel will undertake a process for consultation with First Nations communities and their representative organizations as well as First Nation and Inuit Health – Ontario Region.
Also attached is a Needs Assessment to identify gaps, overlaps, strengths of the addictions prevention and treatment services accessed by the Region‘s First Nations population. Based upon this assessment, FNIH Ontario Region and COO, in consultation with First Nations communities and representative organizations, have worked together to produce a strategic plan for enhancing and renewing Ontario First Nations addictions prevention and treatment services.
Finally, a template that First Nations can use to provide feedback about the report is attached.