Opposition parties are still pushing the Quebec government to acknowledge that systemic racism exists and to adopt Joyce’s Principle.
This is the document written by First Nations chiefs after the death of Joyce Echaquan, who died in hospital in September while staff uttered racist slurs at her.
It aims to assure all First Nations people have access to health care free from discrimination.
Friday morning, Quebec opposition parties again urged the government to reconsider adopting Joyce’s Principle into law.
The minister responsible for Indigenous affairs says he agrees with the principle — except for one thing.
“We don’t have the same definition of systemic racism,” said Minister Ian Lafrenière.
On Tuesday, Lafrenière announced the government would not support a Liberal motion to adopt the principle.
On Thursday, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) released a press release.
Chief Ghislain Picard is cited: “I appeal to all political parties in the National Assembly to join forces to adopt and rapidly implement Joyce’s Principle. What is at stake here, on a human, social and political level, must leave no room for partisan pettiness.”
However, on Friday, Lafrenière said he has been in talks with First Nations chiefs:
“We agree to disagree on the systemic approach,” he said.
“They might be disappointed, but they cannot be surprised.”
Opposition parties do not agree.
“I think it’d be time for the CAQ to just accept the concept,” said Liberal MNA Greg Kelley. “Accept it and let’s move forward. And I think it will make a lot of gains. I think it will push the ball forward.”
“The most important — and that’s what the Principle of Joyce is asking — if you do not recognize the systemic racism, how could you have a systemic solution? It’s impossible,” said Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson, Manon Massé.
Lafrenière continues to stick to his promise to take concrete actions. He said he and Health Minister Christian Dubé are working to put in place the recommendations to improve health care for First Nations people.