Globe and Mail: How to improve Indigenous health? Address jurisdictional disputes
Josée Lavoie, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, and director of the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, at the University of Manitoba, wrote an article for the Globe and Mail as part of a series the newspaper is running on health care.
In 2017, there remains a health-care system in Canada excluded from the shelter of the 1984 Canada Health Act. Funded by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada (FNIHB), Canada’s 14th health-care system operates outside of the legislative framework of the 13 provinces and territories. It operates on First Nation reserves across Canada and in the Inuit communities of northern Quebec and Labrador.
Ample evidence shows that Canadians faced with serious health issues experience considerable challenges navigating their provincial health-care system. For First Nations and Inuit patients, this is compounded by having to continuously cross jurisdictional boundaries to access the care they need – They are faced with additional challenges because federal and provincial authorities often disagree on which system should pay for which services.
Studies have shown that jurisdictional confusion creates barriers to First Nations and Inuit accessing services other Canadians can expect. Despite having been involved in the funding and delivery of health services to First Nations and Inuit since 1945, the federal government has yet to clearly define its obligations to First Nations and Inuit in relation to the provision of health services.