Supported by the Ontario government’s commitment to improving Ontario First Nations relations and health outcomes for First Nations people living on reserve, a meeting was held on November 24, 2010, between the Chair of Ontario Chiefs Committee on Health (OCCOH) on behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario (COO), Deputy Ministers (DMs) of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA), and Cabinet Office, Intergovernmental Affairs. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss opportunities to continue and strengthen government-to-government relations and to address First Nations health challenges; the parties agreed to focus on achieving progress on mutually identified priority areas (diabetes prevention and management, mental health and addictions, public health, and data collection/analysis).
It was further agreed that the Federal government be engaged as an active participant given its historical and continuing role with First Nations. Health Canada, representing the Federal government is committed to participate in a trilateral process with Ontario First Nations and the provincial government to improve health outcomes for First Nations, in a manner that is guided by the honour of the Crown.
These discussions have lead to the establishment of a Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee (TFNHSOC) to work collaboratively in identifying and implementing practical measures on specific priority areas. COO maintains that: “First Nations have a right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and environmental) through their Inherent Rights including Treaty Rights” and aspires to the development and implementation of an Ontario-First Nations Health Accord. Notwithstanding this aspiration, the parties agree to continue and strengthen existing government-to-government relationships regarding First Nations health in Ontario. The parties (Ontario, Canada, and COO) agree to work collaboratively in identifying and implementing practical measures in specific areas over the short term to begin to address the health program and service gaps that exist while exploring ways to continue and strengthen the government-to-government relationship over time.
The parties agree that the TFNHSOC will develop approaches to protect and promote the health of First Nations people by:
- undertaking targeted activities in the priority areas of mental health and addictions with a focus on prescription drug abuse; public health; diabetes prevention and management; and data collection and analysis;
- collaboratively identifying health service gaps for First Nations people living on-reserve in relation to identified priority areas;
- advancing the availability and effectiveness of services for and within First Nations communities in Ontario;
- improving the integration and coordination of federally and provincially funded health services for First Nations communities in Ontario which focus on improving health outcomes;
- providing practical recommendations on how to improve collaboration on federally and provincially funded health services in the identified priority areas for First Nations communities in Ontario ; and
- exploring ways to continue and strengthen the government-to-government relationship between First Nations, Ontario and Canada.
- attempt to address the unique geographical and socio-economic concerns of many First Nations communities in Ontario