Ottawa signs agreement with Nova Scotia First Nations chiefs on health services

Ottawa signs agreement with Nova Scotia First Nations chiefs on health services

The federal government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq chiefs on the transfer of federal health services.

Friday’s agreement with the 13 chiefs continues a process that will ultimately transform the design and delivery of health services for Mi’kmaq throughout the province.

“This is about making sure there is support from the province and the federal government to transform health-care delivery and reinstate self-determination in the delivery of health care to Mi’kmaq,” Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told CBC’s Mainstreet Halifax in an interview on Friday.

As a result of the signing, Mi’kmaw chiefs, the federal government and the government of Nova Scotia are to work toward a framework agreement to complete the transfer process over the next several years.

The end result will see the delivery of health services through Tajikimɨk, a Mi’kmaw health and wellness organization guided by the 13 chiefs and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council.

Last year, Indigenous Services Canada committed $8.96 million over two years to support Tajikimɨk and it announced an additional $6.79 million in funding in March.

A woman with long brown hair and glasses wears a pink blazer with a pink shirt.  She is standing at a podium with microphones.
Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul speaks to reporters after the announcement Friday. (Daniel Jardine/CBC)

Hajdu and the 13 First Nations chiefs participated in the signing ceremony in Millbrook, NS

“We can now lead the way in transforming and making sure that the programs that are being delivered are the ones that we need, not the ones we’re being told we need,” Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said at the signing.

One of the key goals of Tajikeimɨk is to make sure health care is trauma-informed and culturally safe.

Hajdu said health services improve when First Nations are involved. “This agreement lays the groundwork to build a culturally safe and high-quality health system for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia,” she said.

Mainstreet NS9:46Federal health services transferred to Mi’kmaq in new agreement

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu joins host Jeff Douglas to talk about a new memorandum of understanding that will help transform the design and delivery of health services for Mi’kmaq throughout Nova Scotia.

She acknowledged the discrimination Indigenous people had faced when trying to access health care.

“There’s a path forward here and what’s really exciting is that it’s a path with the province so it’s not setting up a separate system, it’s setting up a system that can be delivered by Indigenous people but also integrated with the province’s general services for all Nova Scotians,” Hadju said.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Michelle Thompson said the Department of Health and Wellness already has a “very good” relationship with Tajikiimɨk.

“We’re really going to do a continuation of that,” Thompson said.

In addition to Nova Scotia, federally funded health transformation initiatives are underway in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

Last week, Ottawa announced $8.2 billion over 10 years to help the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia improve health and wellness.

The BC authority — the first of its kind in Canada — took over planning, management and delivery of health care for that province’s First Nations from Ottawa in 2013.

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