FSIN ‘annoyed, disrespected’ as Indigenous leaders excluded from federal health-care transfer talks

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations expressed disappointment with the lack of inclusion for the meeting with the prime minister next month on health care. File / Global News

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) expressed disappointment that Indigenous leaders were excluded from the prime minister’s invitation to premiers and other leaders for a meeting on health-care transfer funding.

“We’re annoyed and disrespected,” said FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear. “The prime minister said the most important relationship that he has is the relationship with Indigenous Peoples…. I hold the prime minister to that. If that’s the most important relationship, we need to do better.”

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On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he will meet with the premiers on Feb. 7 in Ottawa to hear their priorities for investment. According to FSIN, Canada’s premiers recently asked the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer payment to the provinces from 22 per cent to 35 per cent, while First Nations leaders are requesting inclusion in management decisions for their proportionate share of health-care funding in order to improve access to care and quality of care for First Nations people.

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“There is no reconciliation for First Nations when we continue to be excluded from these crucial discussions and decision-making processes,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron stated in a release.

“We are not treated properly in the provincial health care system. Our people don’t have access to services and care the same as non-First Nations. We expect and demand to be at the table every step of the way from beginning to end. And that’s what our people ask of us as First Nation leaders to continue to promote and ensure the implementation of our inherent rights and Treaty rights.”

Read more: Minister of Justice defends Sask. First Act, says it doesn’t challenge treaties

In an email response to Global News, the office of the minister of health acknowledged that Indigenous Peoples face unique challenges when it comes to having fair and equitable access to quality and culturally safe health-care services.

“We must continue to work in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis to properly address these gaps,” according to the statement.

“Our government continues to engage with Indigenous communities across the country regularly, whether through consultations on Indigenous data sovereignty, various FPTI meetings, anti-Indigenous racism in the Healthcare system, and other initiatives to ensure we are working collaboratively and in partnership together. We have also invested millions of dollars into healthcare initiatives that are culturally sensitive and Indigenous led at the community level, and we will continue these efforts.”

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The email did not contain a response to the FSIN’s demands for inclusion in meetings.

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