Federal/Provincial/Territorial Meeting on Health: First Nations Governments Must Be at the Table
WENDAKE, QC, Feb. 7, 2023 – The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) find it totally unacceptable that the federal, provincial and territorial governments have not considered it essential for First Nations governments to speak on their own behalf on an issue as important as health.
While significant improvements have been made over the past decade, many communities continue to have troubling health statistics, from early mortality, to chronic disease, to mental health, to diabetes, to name a few.
“The federal government seems to be talking out of both sides of the mouth,” said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard in response to the exclusion of First Nations from the “Big Table”. The federal government passes laws that recognize our capacity to govern and our inherent right to self-determination, such as the Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“Bill C-15”) and the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families Act (“Bill C-92”). Yet this same government feels that we have no place alongside other governments. “This is a flagrant contradiction, especially in the context of the federal government’s funding of a broad-based consultation across the country to co-develop distinction-based Indigenous health legislation. This is nonsense,” continued the Chief of the AFNQL.
“How is it possible to talk about health transfers that affect us in our absence, when our people are the ones who are most affected? We are the only governments that have the expertise to present the challenges facing our populations in the areas of health and wellness,” said Derek Montour, Chairperson of the FNQLHSSC’s Board of Directors.
What actions will First Nations governments need to take to ensure that the government-to-government relationship is an integral part of all decisions that affect them?
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together the 43 chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
About the FNQLHSSC
The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission is a non-profit organization that supports First Nations in Quebec in achieving their objectives in terms of health, wellness, culture and selfdetermination.
For further information: Marie-Celine Einish, Communications Advisor, [email protected], 418-254-4620