AMC Calls for Collaborative Action with Provincial Government to Shape Responsive Indigenous Health Department

December 13, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) calls for joint efforts with the provincial government to ensure that the recently announced Indigenous Health Department is tailored to address First Nations citizens’ unique needs, experiences, and perspectives. This call comes a day after the province released the citizens panel recommending thirty-seven improvements to primary care, including an Indigenous Health Department.

“Acknowledging the positive step of unveiling thirty-seven recommendations for improving Manitoba’s healthcare system, the province must address urgent matters concerning First Nations representation and anti-racism by engaging the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick.

Grand Chief Merrick says the report should incorporate a more inclusive strategy to address the targeted racism, bias, and stereotyping experienced by First Nations, specifically. The AMC proposes a collaborative effort with First Nations Leadership to formulate and implement a comprehensive health and human resource strategy aimed at nurturing the development of First Nations healthcare professionals. The expansion of the First Nations health professionals’ workforce will ensure the provision of equitable, culturally safe, and discrimination-free health services.

“First Nations must be included in this work to address the discrimination and racism within the healthcare system. This is not the type of situation where a pan-indigenous approach will work,” said Grand Chief Merrick. “First Nations have distinct experiences incomparable to those of our Inuit and Metis relatives. The practice of grouping us together and presuming it can cater to our distinct needs underscores a significant opportunity for ongoing learning and training.”

The AMC continues to advocate for healthcare policies and programs that are culturally sensitive, First Nations-driven, and responsive to First Nations citizens’ unique needs and perspectives. Although the thirty-seven recommendations do not explicitly address Access to Health Transformation dollars, it is crucial to allocate resources appropriately to facilitate the implementation of these recommendations. Ensuring sufficient resources and funding for this department is essential to effectively address health disparities.