Statement from Jane Philpott and Eric Hoskins, ‎following a meeting with northern Ontario First Nations leaders

OTTAWA, April 1, 2016 /CNW/ - As Ministers of Health, we are deeply troubled by the states of emergency declared in northern Ontario First Nations communities. These communities face many serious health challenges, ones that cannot be solved alone or in isolation, but must be met with collective action.

Yesterday we met with northern Ontario First Nations leaders to discuss how we can work together more effectively, now and over the long-term, to meet the pressing health needs of northern Ontario First Nations communities. We assured our Indigenous partners that we will do everything we can to ensure that First Nations have access to effective, sustainable and culturally appropriate health services and programs and to improve health and social outcomes.

The Government of Canada is resolved to provide a sustained investment in finding concrete solutions. Budget 2016 committed $8.4B for Indigenous programming including significant investments in education, water, housing and social infrastructure including investments to enhance recreational and health and early childhood learning facilities. This funding will include support for new health facilities in northern Ontario communities.

In order to address the immediate concerns of the community, the Government of Ontario committed to providing greater access to primary care, including additional physician days and additional support from nurse practitioners, and mental health and social workers. The provincial government also committed to provide support in implementing the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority Wellness model, to better understand the population health needs of First Nations communities and to take more proactive steps to improve health more holistically, in keeping with the community's values and traditions. This will also include public health nurses and ongoing funding for a Medical Officer of Health to oversee implementation of the model in partnership with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the federal government.

To find real, lasting solutions to these complex issues, a sustained effort by all partners is required. Both levels of government are committed to doing their part to facilitate positive change through a nation-to-nation approach based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

We directed our officials to begin working with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation leadership to assemble a joint action table to begin work immediately on the issues raised in our meetings . The precise membership and terms of reference for this table are yet to be established with our First Nations partners. We expect this group to begin work within the next two weeks.

Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, Government of Canada

Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Government of Ontario

SOURCE Health Canada

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