Ministers Meeting Report
On Friday April 4th, the HCOM Committee including Chief representatives from Treaty six, Treaty seven, and Treaty eight met with the Federal Minister of Health for the first time in over four years. The Honourable Rona Ambrose met with the Chiefs to discuss health service issues that included the possible transformation of on-reserve health care delivery in Alberta, the Treaty right to health, the renewal of 'upstream’ health programs and Non-insured Health Benefit concerns. The meeting included presentations by Treaty seven Chief Charles Weaselhead , Treaty Eight Chief Rose Laboucan and Treaty six Chief Rusty Threefingers amongst others.
The major highlights from the meeting include:
- The recognition for the need to think further about three-party relationships with First Nations. System integration with the Federal and Provincial governments will be key to sustainability.
- An AFN National Review on NIHB will focus on systemic issues. , Minister Ambrose has committed to work with Chiefs in Alberta based on the outcome of this review.
- Minister Ambrose requesting further education for the complex issues regarding the Treaty relationship.
- Recognition that the TRC spent $250M nationally over 4 years on health supports, and the need to do more for what is an incredibly difficult issue for many First Nations communities. Minister Ambrose committed to work together with the Treaties to see what can be done with existing programs to continue to address the social issues.
- Discussion of the major issue of prescription drug abuse across Canada on First Nations. A decision that there has to be a culturally sensitive approach taken to solve the issue.
- A commitment from Minister Ambrose to meet more regularly with Alberta First Nations to develop a formal process and working plan moving forward. The recognition of the work that needs to be done to achieve a sustainable system transformation.