Assembly of First Nations Supports Call for Immediate Action to Address Health & Public Health Emergency in Nishnawbe Aski Nation Territory

OTTAWA, Feb. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, today expressed support for prompt and sustained action by the Ontario and federal governments to implement immediate, intermediate and long term strategies to address the current health and public health emergency in First Nations in northern Ontario.

"We fully support the call for the Ontario government and the federal government to work together with leadership from Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Sioux Lookout region to address the chronic failures in health care systems that are creating illness and deaths that can be prevented among First Nations in the region," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  "First Nations across the country face similar challenges in health care and well-being.  We need action today and for the long-term.  Lives are at stake."

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and representatives from the Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs Committee on Health declared a health and public health emergency this week for First Nations in the Sioux Lookout region and across NAN territory – an area covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario and home to 49 First Nation communities.  The leaders are calling for immediate action including:  a meeting with health ministers to develop an investment and intervention plan; detailed plans to be provided by the federal government indicating how safe, clean and reliable drinking water will become accessible for First Nations communities; detailed plans on how Health Canada will fulfil recommendations outlined in the Spring 2015 Auditor General's report.

"First Nations require, deserve and demand stable, sustainable and culturally appropriate access to health care, just as other people in this country and no matter where they reside," said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, who leads the national health portfolio.  "The minimum standard of Jordan's Principle must be implemented to avoid the jurisdictional disputes that delay and deny care to First Nations on a daily basis."

Jordan's Principle is a child first principle intended to ensure that First Nations children don't experience denials, delays, or disruptions of services ordinarily available to other children in Canada because of jurisdictional disputes over which government should pay for and provide services that are ordinarily available to other children in Canada.  It is named in honour of Jordan River Anderson, a young boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, who encountered tragic delays in services due to governmental jurisdictional disputes that denied him an opportunity to live outside of a hospital setting before his death in 2005.

As part of the Health Accord renewal discussions last month, leaders from the AFN, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and ministers from the federal, provincial, territorial governments committed to developing a formal process within the broader Health Accord discussions inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit to better determine how provincial, territorial and federal governments can meet health needs in their respective health systems. 

For more information on specific health needs in Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory please visit:

For more information on First Nation health priorities across the country please visit:

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Jenna Young Castro AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or; Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or

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