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Nishnawbe Aski Nation gets $17.8M from Ottawa for community health transformation

The Canadian government on Thursday announced millions in additional funding for health transformation initiatives in Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities.

Funding will help NAN First Nations take ownership of health services

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler hopes Thursday's announcement of additional federal funding will help kickstart First Nations health transformation process. (CBC)

The Canadian government on Thursday announced millions in additional funding for health transformation in Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) communities.

The $17.8 million announced by Pam Damoff, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Indigenous Services, will help NAN's 49 member communities achieve greater control and ownership over their health-care services.

"Our shared goal is to ensure the voices of First Nations patients are heard, their rights respected and their health needs met in a responsive, effective and culturally safe way," Damoff said during a teleconference on Thursday afternoon.

She said the funding is part of the government's budget 2021 plan to provide $107.1 million to First Nations to transform how health services and programs are delivered.

"It is our goal to improve access to reduce the gaps in health status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across the country."

"Every First Nation, Inuit and Métis community deserves to have quality health care."

COVID-19 has shown health gaps: Fiddler

NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said the current health system is "simply not working."

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, "in a very real way," the gaps in health care for Indigenous people.

"We need to try as much as we can to bring these services closer to home ... or even right in our home communities," Fiddler said. "Long-term care is a really good example of that.

"All of the things that we've talked about over these last four years, when they began this health transformation journey, we need to start to deliver on these things," he said. "So I hope that today's announcement will kick start the process again."

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