Improving Health Outcomes


On January 23, 2018, Minister Jane Philpott and the Department of Indigenous Services Canada held a media briefing to outline the new department’s priorities since being created in Fall 2017. The media brief as presented can be viewed online via Facebook. Slides and background documents are available on the department’s website.

Improving Health Outcomes

Current Challenges

Although First Nations and Inuit health has improved in recent years, gaps remain in the overall health outcomes between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.

  • Life expectancy for Indigenous People is up to 15 years shorter
  • Infant mortality rates are two to three times higher
  • Diabetes rates are almost four  times higher for First Nations on reserve
  • Opioid-related deaths are up to three times higher for First Nations in British Columbia and Alberta
  • Tuberculosis rates are 270 times higher for Inuit

The Path Forward

The Government of Canada will continue to work with First Nations and Inuit, and provincial and territorial partners, to support:

  • First Nations health transformation
  • Improved quality and satisfaction of care
  • Children receiving necessary medical care in a timely manner
  • Sustainable and sufficient health resources in each community
  • The elimination of tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat

Points of Progress since November 2015

  • The federal government is working with First Nation, Inuit and Métis Nation partners at national and regional levels through bilateral and tri-lateral tables, and the permanent bilateral mechanisms process to advance their health priorities, and other means.
  • In July 2017 the federal government co-signed, with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Government of Ontario, a Charter of Relationship Principles to formalize a partnership to transform the health system in northern Ontario.
  • The Government of Canada continues to work with partners to ensure First Nations children receive the care they need through Jordan’s Principle – A Child-First Initiative. As of December 31, 2017, more than 33,000 services and supports have been approved for First Nations children since 2016.
  • As of December 31, 2017, investments in more than 140 infrastructure projects to build and renovate health facilities such as nursing stations, health centres, acute care facilities and drug and alcohol treatment centres, as well as Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve facilities, in First Nations and Inuit communities.
  • Investments continue to be made in training and education to support the number of Indigenous people entering health careers, and support the hiring and retention of more nurses working in First Nation communities.
  • Together in September 2017, the Government of Canada and Inuit leaders pledged to establish a task force to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat.  The next meeting is scheduled for winter 2018.
  • In July 2016, the Prime Minister announced funding for mental wellness and crises response teams, as well as the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line, available 24/7 in English, French, and upon request, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktut.  As of December 31, 2017, there were 43 teams supporting over 300 communities across Canada.

Facts & Figures

Budget 2017 pledged $828.2 million over five years towards improving the health outcomes of First Nations and Inuit. This includes:

  • $118.2 million over five years for mental health programming
  • $83.2 million over five years for maternal and child health
  • $72.1 million over five years for primary care
  • $50.2 million over five years for chronic and infectious diseases, including;
    • $13 million earmarked specifically for TB prevention and control
  • $184.6 million over five years for home and palliative care
  • $15 million over five years for harm reduction activities that form part of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy
  • $305 million over five years for Non-Insured Health Benefit

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