Ontario announces Indigenous health care funding

The Ontario government announced this week it will invest $222 million over three years, and more than $104 million annually after that, to improve health care in Indigenous communities.

Plan an important first step, NAN Grand Chief says

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the province needs to ensure it can offer culturally appropriate health care to all people in Ontario. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Ontario government announced this week it will invest $222 million over three years, and more than $104 million annually after that, to improve health care in Northern communities.

The First Nations Health Care Plan will target a myriad of programs in the North, and is designed to provide access to more culturally-appropriate care for residents of Indigenous communities.

"It's a significant first step," said Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. "The important thing here is that we have a relationship with both Ontario and Canada in terms of how we want to bring about improvements to health care in the North."
Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, says the new funding is a good first step in solving health issues in remote communities. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

The plan was announced in Thunder Bay at the Anishnawbe Mushkiki Thunder Bay Aboriginal Health Centre on Wednesday.

The First Nations Health Care Plan targets primary care, public health and health promotion, seniors care, hospital services, and crisis support.

Among the specific initiatives named in the plan are suicide prevention, the creation of a senior's care plan, diabetes management and prevention, expanding the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program, funding and training for front-line health care workers, and the expansion of home and community care in remote communities.

"My job as health minister is to ensure that every person in Ontario has equal access to high-quality, culturally-appropriate health care, no matter where they live or who they are," said Eric Hoskins, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Right now in this province, in Ontario, that is not the case."

Federal Government must get involved

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day called on the federal government to get involved.

"Surely, this raises the bar, and the feds must respond," Day said. "While this is significant, it's only a part of the work and investment that is still needed across the board."

"If we don't deal with the social determinants of health, if we don't start dealing with the Indian Act and the legacy of the Indian residential school, this funding is only going to be reactionary in nature. It's only going to be throwing good money after bad."

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