October 13, 2011
For immediate release
VANCOUVER - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minister of Health, British Columbia Minister of Health Michael De Jong, the B.C. First Nations Health Council and the B.C. First Nations Health Society today signed a landmark legal agreement that will ensure B.C. First Nations have a major role in the planning and management of health services for First Nations through a new First Nations health governance structure.
"Today marks an important and historic milestone for the Harper government, B.C. First Nations and the province of British Columbia", said Minister Aglukkaq.
"This will streamline administration, encourage the integration of the federally and provincially funded health services and allow healthcare decisions to be made closer to home. We're proud to partner with B.C. First Nations and the province of British Columbia on this important initiative."
The British Columbia Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance paves the way for the federal government to transfer the planning, design, management, and delivery of First Nations health programs to a new First Nations Health Authority over the next two years. The First Nations Health Authority will incorporate First Nations' cultural knowledge, beliefs, values and models of healing into the design and delivery of health programs that better meet the needs of First Nations communities.
"This agreement is the first of its kind in Canada and advances B.C.'s New Relationship commitments to close the gaps, including health, that separate First Nations people from other British Columbians", said B.C. Health Minister Michael de Jong.
"The relationships we've built between governments, First Nations and communities are the foundation for improving the health of First Nations communities that benefit all British Columbians."
B.C. First Nations Chiefs overwhelmingly endorsed the agreement in May, moving another step toward assuming greater control over their health and wellness.
"B.C. First Nations are demonstrating incredible leadership", said Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Chair of the First Nations Health Council.
"We will be the first in Canada to take over province-wide health service delivery from the federal government and will work closely with the provincial health system to enable it to better meet First Nations health needs and priorities. Through this new health governance approach, we will see remarkable improvements in the health and well-being of First Nations people in B.C. within one generation, and contribute to the health services accessed by all British Columbians."
"This Agreement is a result of years of work by B.C. First Nations to bring forward a First Nation vision of health care," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.
"We cannot be passive observers in our own lives and the lives of our families and communities - this Agreement enables First Nations to take a step forward in taking back responsibility for our own lives and for our own communities and Nations."
"As Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and as a Member of Parliament for British Columbia, it is great to see this agreement coming to fruition. This Agreement means that First Nations will have a strong voice in determining their health care needs, and the power to address those needs as they see best", said federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan
Today's signing of the B.C. Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance is a key milestone in the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan which was signed in 2007 with the goal of improving the health and well-being of First Nations in B.C. and closing the gap in health between First Nations people and other British Columbians.
Editors' Note: The First Nations Health Society was formed to serve as the operational arm of the First Nations Health Council, and provide support services to the First Nations Health Directors Association.
Please visit Health Canada's website for a full copy of the agreement.
Signatories of the Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance: (standing L-R) the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health; the Honourable Michael de Jong, Minister of Health for British Columbia ; Grand Chief of the First Nations Health Council, Doug Kelly; and Joe Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Health Society. Witnesses to the signing were also present: (seated L-R) Ian Potter, Chief Federal Negotiator; Graham Whitmarsh, Deputy Minister of Health for British Columbia; Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Assembly of First Nations National; and Pierre Leduc.
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