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Policy Silences: Why Canada Needs a National First Nations, Inuit and Metis Health Policy

Objectives: Despite attempts, policy silences continue to create barriers to addressing the healthcare needs of First Nations, Inuit and Me´tis. The purpose of this article is to answer the question, if what we have in Canada is an Aboriginal health policy patchwork that fails to address inequities, then what would a Healthy Aboriginal Health Policy framework look like?
 
Methods: The data collected included federal, provincial and territorial health policies and legislation that contain Aboriginal, First Nation, Inuit and/or Me´tis-specific provisions available on the internet. Key websites included the Parliamentary Library, federal, provincial and territorial health and Aboriginal websites, as well as the Department of Justice Canada, Statistics Canada and the Aboriginal Canada Portal.
 
Results: The Indian Act gives the Governor in Council the authority to make health regulations. The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada historically provided health services to First Nations and Inuit, as a matter of policy. FNIHB’s policies are few, and apply only to Status Indians and Inuit. Health legislation in 2 territories and 4 provinces contain no provision to clarify their responsibilities. In provinces where provisions exist, they broadly focus on jurisdiction. Few Aboriginal-specific policies and policy frameworks exist. Generally, these apply to some Aboriginal peoples and exclude others.
 
Conclusion: Although some Aboriginal-specific provisions exist in some legislation, and some policies are in place, significant gaps and jurisdictional ambiguities remain. This policy patchwork perpetuates confusion. A national First Nation, Inuit and Me´tis policy framework is needed to address this issue.
Date of Resource: 
17 May 2014
State of Resource: 
Published (Available to Public)