NANAIMO, BC, Jan. 11, 2019 /CNW/ - On January 8, 2019, the Inter-Tribal Health Authority (ITHA) issued six Notices of Mediation to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) indicating ITHA's desire to trigger the Dispute Resolution Process to resolve the current dispute between FNHA and ITHA. The appropriate dispute resolution process is detailed in their funding agreements with FNHA.
On January 10, 2019 the Boards of FNHA and ITHA arranged to meet in Vancouver to discuss this matter. FNHA Board did not show up for this meeting.
Requests to resolve concerns amicably have repeatedly been shut down by FNHA Chief Operating Officer Richard Jock, who has ignored ITHA's requests for mediation and who unilaterally refuses to commit FNHA to a mediation process. ITHA views FNHA's actions, denying ITHA the opportunity to meet with and discuss the ongoing dispute, as oppressive and reminiscent of a colonial regime.
"We are shocked that FNHA is continuing to impose their will on more than 48,000 First Nation people, contrary to the wishes of many of our communities and our Chiefs and in a way that can only be described as oppressive, colonial and in violation of FNHA's own processes," stated ITHA Director of Operations, Marjorie Reid. "As Chief Operating Officer of the FNHA, Richard Jock's treatment of ITHA and our staff is reminiscent of an Indian Agent approach, with complete disregard for ITHA's culturally grounded practices and our commitment to our people and the communities we serve," she concluded.
FNHA has been withholding annual escalator funding from ITHA and its Member First Nations for the fiscal years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 in the amount of $922,146. Through this action, FNHA is not complying with its obligations under the funding agreements and the British Columbia Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nations Health Governance, and even more critical are the impacts on the Member First Nation's ability to access health program services dollars. In response, several Chiefs have called upon the Province to invoke Jordans Principle to ensure children in the communities are not punished by the hard-line tactics of FNHA.
In addition, FNHA has distributed defamatory claims and false information to ITHA Member First Nations about a draft performance audit that was undertaken in 2016 and never completed by FNHA. FNHA has ignored repeated requests by ITHA for meetings and mediation to resolve this dispute. ITHA has in truth enjoyed clean audits through an independent auditor for the last three years. Despite this fact, on December 21, 2018, FNHA communicated that two ITHA funding agreements would be terminated. ITHA views the attempted termination as unlawful as FNHA did not follow procedural fairness based upon the fiduciary relationships involved.
ITHA has concerns that FNHA is retaliating as a result of a WorkSafeBC Complaint that was filed against Mr. Richard Jock, Chief Operating Officer of FNHA by an Executive at ITHA alleging harassment and bullying. ITHA has witnessed unilateral actions by Jock and is concerned and seriously questioning whether a single individual at FNHA has the authority to make decisions impacting a ten year agreement that has a total contract value of more that 50 million dollars. Jock's signing of the termination letter placed him in a conflict of interest, thus the letter is void.
"There is a lack of protocol. We have respect for one another. We are gravely concerned with FNHA's oppressive approach in dealing with ITHA," stated ITHA Board Director Chief Paddy Walkus. He continued, "FNHA has ignored our requests to resolve this matter amicably and failed to communicate with us in a respectful way. Their actions are an afront to our own culture, practices and traditions. These are our people at risk, our families and our communities and we have made every effort to follow proper processes and procedures to resolve the dispute with FNHA. Continuity of critical health services for our Member Nations drives everything we do."
Chief Richard Dawson, ITHA Co-Chair stated: "FNHA's responsibility to oversee health governance in BC is subject to complying with the 7 Directives as ratified by our BC Chiefs in 2011. These directives are critical to ensuring FNHA's accountability to our people. FNHA's efforts to withhold funding from our Member Nations is in direct violation of Directive #1 (Community Based and Nation-Driven). ITHA was built by our communities, as an enhanced, responsive and evidence-based service model for health services for our Nations. We are committed to continuing and improving that quality of care."
With the support of its Member Nations, ITHA calls on FNHA to engage meaningfully with ITHA so that this dispute can be resolved in a positive way for the sake of the 48,000 First Nations people that depend on ITHA's services. There is an immediate need to restore confidence of ITHA's Member Nations that FNHA is accountable to First Nations people and respectful of the 7 Directives.
About the Inter-Tribal Health Authority
ITHA is the largest First Nations health delivery organization in Canada, providing service to 52 First Nations on Vancouver Island and Coastal Mainland and serving 48,000 First Nations peoples. For over 20 years, ITHA has been supporting its Member Nations by enhancing the quality of life and well-being through relevant health services, community development, and professional development. ITHA provides quality health programs and services that include culturally relevant and traditional values for each of our Member Nations. These services include a range of 2nd and 3rd level services; Tele-Ophthalmology Service, nursing and nursing supervision, mental health support and a number of other programs.
SOURCE Inter-Tribal Health Authority
For further information: or to arrange an interview with ITHA, please contact: Maia Schor, Castlemain Group, 604-336-8750, [email protected]