Ontario Taking Action on Indigenous Health Care
Partnership Between Province and Indigenous Communities Key to Efforts
Ontario and Indigenous partners are working together to improve access to care and increase the involvement of Indigenous communities in developing and delivering their health services. This includes direct funding for communities to enhance access to care, funding for services as well as training opportunities, and identifying opportunities for greater First Nations control over the design and delivery of health care services in the future.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, spoke at the First Nations Health Transformation Summit today to provide an update on the province's engagement with Indigenous partners since the launch of Ontario's First Nations Health Action Plan and The Journey Together: Ontario's Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and to announce a number of new initiatives, including:
- Home care: Providing funding directly to each of the 133 First Nations communities in Ontario to strengthen access to culturally appropriate home and community care services, including at-home nursing visits, help with bathing and preparing meals, or transportation for people with mobility challenges. Ontario is also expanding access to home and community care services at nearly 25 delivery sites across the province to help Indigenous people living in urban areas connect more easily to the services they need.
- Primary care: Creating 16 new or expanded Indigenous-governed and community-driven interprofessional primary care teams across Ontario. These will provide culturally safe primary health care services and programs to over 70,000 Indigenous people -- including individuals and families living in remote and fly-in communities. These teams can include traditional healers, nurse practitioners, dietitians and mental health counsellors. The province is also partnering with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Matawa First Nations Management on a new Remote First Nations Family Medicine Residency Program to recruit and train up to four family doctors annually to work in remote First Nations communities.
- Palliative care: Training up to 1,000 health care workers living and working in First Nations communities, or for Indigenous health care organizations, who are providing palliative care. This training will help First Nations and urban Indigenous people get the care they need and allow them to stay at home or in the community for as long as possible if that is their wish.
- Mental health and wellness: Funding 34 Indigenous-led mental health and wellness programs across the province that include traditional healing, to provide enhanced, culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous youth, adults, families and communities. These programs include funding over 100 new mental health workers that will serve more than 69 First Nations communities, as well as urban Indigenous communities in cities such as Toronto, Kenora, Thunder Bay, Barrie, Midland, Sudbury, Ottawa and London.
- Healing and Treatment Centres: Funding to establish or expand 10 Indigenous-led Healing and Treatment Centres across Ontario, which will offer over 50 new culturally safe treatment beds for Indigenous people. Available services will include substance use disorder services, holistic mental health counselling and cultural supports.
Ontario also recently signed a Charter of Relationship Principles with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Canada, and is working with other Political Territorial Organizations and First Nations partners on similar relationship documents. These will express Ontario's commitment to collaborate with partners in creating new health systems for First Nations communities that will be led, planned and delivered by First Nations themselves.
Investing in the health and wellness of Indigenous communities is one of many steps on Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government's commitment to work with Indigenous partners, creating a better future for everyone in the province.
- In 2015, the Chiefs of Ontario and the Government of Ontario signed a historic Political Accord to guide the relationship between First Nations and the province. The Accord creates a formal bilateral relationship framed by the recognition of the treaty relationship.
- Ontario funding to establish or expand Indigenous-led Healing and Treatment Centres across the province is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
- Ontario’s First Nations Health Action Plan is investing up to $222 million over three years (2016-17 to 2018-19) and $104.5 million annually thereafter to ensure that Indigenous people have access to more culturally appropriate care and improved outcomes.
- The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples outlines the province's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
“These historic investments to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous communities have only been possible through respectful partnerships between Ontario and Indigenous partners. We know more work still needs to be done and our government is committed to continued investments in meaningful and lasting Indigenous-led solutions guided by evidence-based research, so communities can access the health services they need to heal and enjoy the high quality of life they deserve.”
Dr. Eric Hoskins
“Improving the health, healing and wellness of Indigenous people through culturally appropriate services and programs is an important step on the journey of reconciliation and can only be done by working hand in hand with Indigenous partners. The investments our government announced today will help lead to changes that will benefit the lives of Indigenous people across Ontario.”
“Working with Indigenous partners, we are increasing our support for Indigenous-led Healing and Treatment Centres. Providing culturally appropriate services to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people in safe environments across the province is an important part of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
Dr. Helena Jaczek
“The additional Ontario funding for home and community care will enable First Nations to enhance home care for citizens who need assistance to remain in their homes and to enable First Nations to pay a comparable wage. I very much appreciate the cooperation First Nations have received. Hats off to the Government of Ontario for this initiative and for their commitment to new long-term care beds and making First Nations a priority to address a backlog of need.”
Chief Donald Maracle
“The Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle’s Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team, an Indigenous-led and -governed initiative, will build on the long history of collaborative relationships of the Indigenous communities in the North Simcoe Muskoka region. This clinic will incorporate traditional healing knowledge and clinical practice to create a holistic, culturally safe system that respects patients and improves health.”