AMC Expects Collaboration with the Province to Prioritize Bed Security for Medivac’d First Nations

April 9, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Cathy Merrick expects to work with the province to ensure that bed security is prioritized for First Nations individuals requiring medical evacuation to the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg. This request follows yesterday’s announcement of plans to add more beds to the HSC over the next two years as part of ongoing efforts to enhance inpatient capacity, alleviate pressure on emergency departments, and boost surgical capacity.

“So often, when our people are transported via medical evacuation from more rural parts of the province, there isn’t a place for them to go,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “Yesterday’s announcement changes this. I look forward to establishing a process with the province to guarantee beds for First Nations brought into the city by emergency medical evacuation while we work on longer-term solutions to First Nations healthcare reform.”

Data collected from a 2022 study confirms that First Nations continue to experience long-standing health disparities compared to the non-First Nations population in Manitoba. Barriers to timely and accessible healthcare exacerbate these disparities, which have worsened with severe staffing shortages and spending cuts to public healthcare. In Manitoba, urban First Nations populations access healthcare at a greater rate than other demographics and face a disproportionate amount of adverse health events while waiting for services in Manitoba’s emergency rooms.

“We need to ensure our people have somewhere to go when they come here,” continued Grand Chief Merrick.

Monday’s announcement also underscores the complexities arising from the differences in jurisdiction between provincial and federal governments.

“Treaty and self-determination agreements hold the federal government accountable for providing health services to First Nations,” said Grand Chief Merrick, “However, jurisdictional issues create barriers to accessing care when we are forced to leave our Nations for medical treatment within the provincial health system. Our rights are meant to be portable, but we don’t fully see that right now. So, what I would eventually like to see is for First Nations to have the capacity in their Nations to provide these essential services. In the meantime, I am glad there will be more beds for our relatives forced to come to the city to access these services.”

The AMC is committed to improving the health status of First Nations citizens by promoting improved access and continuity of care by advocating for the inherent and Treaty Rights of its 62-member First Nations. “I look forward to working with the Premier to discuss how this announcement can better suit the needs of First Nations across the province to ensure that Manitoba lives up to the promise of leaving no one behind,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.