(Toronto, February 27, 2019) – Yesterday, the Provincial Government tabled Bill 74, The People’s Health Care Act, 2019. This legislation is set to create a new Agency called Ontario Health, which will be formed by dissolving the province’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and merging their duties with those of six other health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario.
A brief preliminary look at the Bill was done, and various mentions of engaging Indigenous peoples, were found such as; the “Minister shall establish an Indigenous Health Council to advise the Minister about health and service delivery issues related to Indigenous peoples.” As well for the Agency “to engage the prescribed Indigenous health planning entities in a manner that recognizes the role of Indigenous peoples in the planning and delivery of health services in their communities.
Unfortunately, the Bill does not contain recognition of First Nations jurisdiction in the health area and specifically Articles 18 and 23, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, have not been recognized, as there has been no consultation with First Nations in developing this legislation. With that being said, the Bill does leave some areas to be explored and we will be looking for further details in relation to First Nations engagement and participation on these issues.
“First Nations have experienced discrimination and stigma within the health care system. Research has proven that our First Nations people have poor health outcomes compared to Ontario citizens. Since Minister Elliot states she is focused on reducing hallway medicine by making sure that people find the care they need, and then I encourage Minister Elliot to dialogue with First Nations. We have ideas on integrated proven solutions and best practices.” said Chief Elaine Johnston, BScN RN, Serpent River First Nation, Co-Chair, Ontario Chiefs Committee on Health
“As the Regional Chief, my primary focus is on ensuring the health, safety, and well being of First Nations and the voices of First Nations and health care providers in Ontario are being heard. Health care providers need to be culturally aware; this starts from the foundation up. First Nations must be involved in the conversation if we are to improve the overall health of First Nations in Ontario,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “We hope for a continued collaboration between First Nations and the Government of Ontario, so First Nations can provide a recommended approach that will lead to overall healthcare improvement and address the gap within First Nations healthcare. “
The Chiefs of Ontario will continue to review the legislation and how First Nations perspectives and experiences will be represented within this new agency.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.
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