Cullen concerned about Auditor-General report on First Nations health

OTTAWA – MP Nathan Cullen expressed concern following the release of a damning report Tuesday from Canada’s Auditor General on the state of health services for remote First Nations communities. The report, entitled Access to Health Services for Remote First Nations Communities, focused on the state of care and facilities for remote First Nations communities in Ontario and Manitoba. But Cullen noted that the Conservative government’s underlying disregard for the health of Indigenous peoples is putting communities across Canada at risk.

“Three years ago, the Conservatives pulled $100 million in funding and axed the National Aboriginal Health Organization, and today we are learning the government isn’t even trying to deliver services based on need,” said Cullen.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson found that Health Canada is falling desperately short of the mark on a number of its obligations to First Nations communities. For example, the report concludes that Health Canada is not ensuring that nurses working in First Nations health centres had completed mandatory training courses, and that many are working beyond their legal scope of practice.

The report also noted that health facilities are failing safety requirements and building codes, and that Health Canada is failing to ensure the capacity of nursing stations to provide essential health services.

Finally, the audit revealed Health Canada is not meeting its objective of ensuring that First Nations individuals living in remote communities have comparable access to care as other provincial residents living in remote communities.

“First Nations individuals are being forced to seek care from crumbling clinics with undertrained nurses and no guarantees they will be able to receive the services they need,” said Cullen. “In Canada, in the 21st century, delivering healthcare in this way is completely unacceptable. It’s time for this government to step up and start listening to First Nations to identify the needs of communities and ensure that they can be met.”

 

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