Libby urges the Health Minister to reinstate funding for First Nation health programs

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

Minister of Health

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6

April 24, 2012

Dear Minister,

I am writing you to express my concern over your government’s recent decision to cut funding to a variety of health organizations serving First Nations people, including the National Aboriginal Health Organization, the Native Women’s Association, the First Nations Statistical Institute, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.  All of these organizations provide invaluable research and services to improve the health of Canadians’ First Nations people.

First Nations people face many adverse health issues on a daily basis, and have the highest rate of chronic health conditions in Canada.  Some of the health challenges faced by First Nations people include high rates of HIV and tuberculosis; higher risks of suicide; and higher infant mortality rates.  First Nations women live almost six years less and First Nations men close to 8 years less than their non-Aboriginal peers.

The Native Women’s Association (NWAC) lost all funding related to Aboriginal health improvement programs. NWAC provides programs, research, and policy initiatives to identify and support the health needs of First Nations women.  They have worked tirelessly for over 30 years to improve the health outcomes of First Nations women and reverse the grave health inequities that exist for these women. 

The First Nations Statistical Institute, who provide statistical information on the demographics of First Nations communities, lost 50% of its operational funding and will lose all of its funding by 2013. Effective immediately the Assembly of First Nations will its health services by 40%, impacting its supportive and facilitative role in informing the development of health policies and programs. The Pauktuutit’s Inuit Women of Canada’s national Inuit health projects were also eliminated due to funding cuts.

Investing in these organizations’ work is critical to improving the health outcomes Canada’s most vulnerable population, as their innovative projects and programs provide desperately needed front-line services.  These funding cuts will create devastating health outcomes for First Nations people and will increase healthcare spending in the long-term.

I urge you to reinstate funding for the health research and programs coordinated by  National Aboriginal Health Organization,  the Native Women’s Association,  the First Nations Statistical Institute,  the Assembly of First Nations,  Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.  Reinstating their funding would show that the health of First Nations people is a priority for this government. 

Sincerely,

Libby Davies, MP

Vancouver East

NDP Health Critic

This Open Letter to Ministers & Public Officials was posted on April 24, 2012
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