Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Philpott Looks to Bring Indigenous Health Delivery to New Department

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Philpott Looks to Bring Indigenous Health Delivery to New Department

Article excerpt

Indigenous health could be in new department

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OTTAWA - Newly minted Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says her new department will likely include the delivery of health services for First Nations and Inuit -- an area previously under her watch at Health Canada.

Philpott said consultations and legislation will be required for the creation of her new ministry, but she said the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples clearly suggested a new department should handle health delivery on a gradually diminishing basis.

"The royal commission structure that was recommended is fairly similar to the approach that we are taking, suggesting that all health services would be managed through a new department and a minister that was responsible for delivery of those services until such time that self-governing First Nations or other Indigenous communities were ready, willing and able to take over those areas," Philpott said in an interview.

She also said the current federal approach -- dividing Indigenous health care and the delivery of other social services that drive health outcomes -- is an "artificial separation", while the new department affords an opportunity to bring this all under one roof.

"Health services fits very strongly in with other social determinants like education and child care and so many other issues that will be under the portfolio," Philpott said.

"In a way, my job is a step in the process necessary in the short term in order to fix many things that are not working right and to address many injustices in terms of the level of services that are being provided, but it is not intended that the department of Indigenous Services will be around forever."

Self-determination of communities, including the ability to control health services, was the vision behind an agreement recently inked by Ottawa, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and the province of Ontario, she said, noting it looks to put control and direction in the hands of the communities needing the services. …

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