Minister of Health and Minister of Indigenous Services Announce Funding & Federal Response to support efforts to address racism in health systems
June, 29, 2021 — Ottawa, Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada | Crown-Indigenous Relations | Health Canada
Strengthening access to culturally safe health services is integral to building a stronger and more culturally inclusive and supportive society. Racism resulting from Canada's colonial history remains embedded in Canada's health systems and continues to have catastrophic effects on First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
Increasing access to health services for Indigenous Peoples that are safe, respectful and culturally sensitive is a priority for the Government of Canada. Joyce's Principle, named in memory of Joyce Echaquan from the Atikamekw Nation in Quebec, aims to guarantee to all Indigenous Peoples the right of equitable access to health and social services, as well as the right to enjoy the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Consistent with Joyce's Principle, Canada recognizes that Indigenous individuals have "the right to access, without any discrimination, all social and health services" and that "Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health," as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to the co-development of distinctions-based health legislation and affirms its commitment that this legislation will be informed by the spirit and elements of Joyce's Principle. It has also pledged to support healthy and safe Indigenous communities and foster health systems free from racism and discrimination where Indigenous Peoples are respected and safe, and where access to culturally relevant mental health and wellness services is improved through the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced specific funding allocations of $126.7 million over three years, first announced in Budget 2021, to support efforts to address racism in Canada's health systems. This includes:
- $33.3 million to improve access to culturally safe services, with a focus on services for Indigenous women, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups who may experience intersecting discrimination. This includes expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives and strengthening funding for national Indigenous women's organizations, as well as regional and grassroots organizations.
- $46.9 million to support the changes to health systems through the integration of cultural and patient safety at all levels, as well as through increased Indigenous representation in health professions.
- This includes $14.9 million, which will be used by Health Canada to establish a program that will provide funding to Indigenous organizations and health partners to support projects that can implement distinctions-based solutions to address anti-Indigenous racism. This funding will also support much-needed capacity for Indigenous partners to undertake meaningful engagement on the development of policy and programs for health priorities.
- $37.8 million to improve supports and accountability by providing distinctions-based funding to Indigenous organizations for new Indigenous patient advocates that will allow Indigenous patients to more safely navigate federal and provincial health systems.
- $8.7 million to provide federal leadership, which includes convening national dialogues like this one today to advance concrete actions to address anti-Indigenous racism in Canada's health systems, and leading by example by evaluating and improving Indigenous Services Canada's programs and practices to ensure more culturally responsive and safe services.
"By engaging in these necessary conversations, by taking a stand against instances of racism against Indigenous Peoples, by confronting the truth together—however uncomfortable—we can continue to address past wrongs and make things right for the future through action. Today's National Dialogue ends with concrete actions to build health systems that recognize traditional knowledge, health systems that respect Indigenous ways of being and that are culturally safe for Indigenous Peoples. Together, we can make meaningful and lasting change for Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians."
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
"True systemic change requires a deep willingness to share power. It also requires humility to admit when we are not doing enough—and I can say unequivocally, as a government, we are not doing enough. Federal, provincial and territorial governments need to address the jurisdictional issues around Indigenous health funding, governance, and program and service delivery. Only then can we achieve health equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. I am eager to work with Indigenous Peoples and their governments to tackle these issues."
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
The two previous National Dialogues in October 2020 and January 2021 with National Indigenous Organization representatives, Indigenous health professionals, health system partners, and provincial and territorial representatives were the first steps in addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health systems.
The National Dialogues, together with extensive work already undertaken on this issue including through the Ignored to Death report, the In Plain Sight report and the findings of the Val-d'Or investigation on systemic racism, identified many root causes, exacerbating factors and gaps that need to be addressed.
The June National Dialogue on Anti-Indigenous Racism (June 28 to 29, 2021) is an opportunity to pursue collective actions related to increasing Indigenous representation in postsecondary health education, cultural safety and humility training, traditional approaches to health, and safe patient navigation.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
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