Province to partner on First Nations health authority

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The Manitoba government said it will partner with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and the federal government to develop a First Nations health authority for the 34-member communities.

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The Manitoba government said it will partner with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and the federal government to develop a First Nations health authority for the 34-member communities.

In a joint release, the SCO said the Manitoba government will sign a tripartite agreement-in-principle to establish a southern First Nation health authority to launch later this year.

“Guided by our ancestors and led by First Nation health professionals, throughout the pandemic we responded to longstanding health inequities by advocating, partnering, and leading delivery of services,” Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a release.

“With the signing of this historic agreement, we are taking the next step forward in closing the 11-year and growing gap in life expectancy between First Nation citizens and all others in what is now Manitoba.”

The agreement-in-principle will establish the relationship protocols and shared priorities for health care for southern First Nation citizens and formalize the commitment of all parties to a working relationship.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon called it a “monumental task.”

“We look forward to working together to establish a health system model for Manitoba that focuses on Indigenous-led and community-based health care,” she said in a release.

Culturally competent primary care, improved access to mental health services, enhanced services for elders, access to traditional healing, and local community access to health care have been identified as priorities for the organization.

NDP MLA and Indigenous affairs critic Ian Bushie said First Nations leaders and Indigenous health experts made great accomplishments during the pandemic but provincial cuts to health care have hurt Indigenous families.

“With Indigenous people at the helm, families will experience better health outcomes,” Bushie said in a statement. “The province should play a supportive role to ensure Indigenous Manitobans get the health care they deserve.”

— Staff

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