AFN National Chief Calls for Urgent Government Action in light of recent WHO Report

    OTTAWA, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Phil Fontaine is urging the Government of Canada to take immediate action in
light of the recommendations presented in the recent World Health Organization
(WHO) Report entitled "Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through
action on the social determinants of health" issued this week. The three
overarching recommendations of the report are particularly applicable for
First Nations in Canada. The AFN has repeatedly called on the Government to
adopt a social justice approach to achieve fairness, equity and improve the
quality of life for First Nations.
    Among the recommendations, the report states: "Inequity in the conditions
of daily living is shaped by deeper social structures and processes. The
inequity is systematic, produced by social norms, policies, and practices that
tolerate or actually promote unfair distribution of and access to power,
wealth, and other necessary social resources."
    In light of the current state of government inaction to level the playing
field for First Nations, National Chief Fontaine challenges this Government to
work with the AFN to effectively address the challenges and issues that exist
in First Nation communities and which continue to impede First Nation
citizens. The WHO report also notes that unsafe drinking water, access to
housing, high suicide rates and the inequitable distribution of power, money
and resources directly impacts life expectancy.
    National Chief stated that "we have been calling on the Government to
address these and other determinants the WHO report accounts for the inequity
and social justice gap. First Nations have been facing these challenges for
too long. We hope that the international spotlight on the very same issues
that plague First Nations as a result of Government inaction will encourage a
change in Government response. It is now time for action. It is now time for
change. The Government has an obligation to tackle the serious issues that
affect the lives of First Nations. Canada is not necessarily 'the best country
in the world' for all its citizens."

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national political organization
representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, Director of Communications, (613)
241-6789, ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329,

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