Call to Action # 18

We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.

Why “Stalled”?

“If you want to measure the effect of Canada’s racist and colonial policies toward Indigenous Peoples you only have to look at the fact that while Canada was recently level one in the international quality of life indicator, Indigenous Peoples within its borders languished at level seventy-eight.” 
Manuel, A. (2017). The Reconciliation Manifesto Recovering the Land and Rebuilding the Economy. James Lorimer & Co. Publishers. Toronto: ON, p. 78. 

This Call to Acton is stalled for three main reasons:

  1. Jan. 25, 2023: Despite the commitments made by all levels of government in each of the Three National Dialogues on Indigenous Health convened after the death of Joyce Echaquan, the governments have refused to invite any of the leaders of the national Indigenous advocacy groups to participate in the national health funding meetings being held in Ottawa beginning Feb. 7. As usual, decisions will be made on their behalf without any consideration for their opinions or input on how those decisions will impact Indigenous people.
  2. First Nations, Métis and Inuit have had major issues with the federal government and a majority of provinces (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador) around ongoing systemic racism in health delivery
  3. “Joyce’s Principle” released after the death of Joyce Echaquan in Québec listed specific recommendations for the federal and Québec governments to eliminate systemic racism in the delivery of health care. The Québec government refused to adopt Joyce’s Principle

Nov. 1, 2023: The ruling Ontario PCs voted a “unanimous ‘nay'” 74 to 34 (Liberals, NDP, Independents) to reject Motion 60 to recognize Indigeneity and colonialism as Indigenous Determinants of Health. Mamawka feels the PCs …” didn’t want to acknowledge colonialism as an issue”.

On Jan. 28, 2021 at the end of the two-day meeting to address systemic racism in healthcare, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced the co-development of distinctions-based health legislation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit aimed at giving First Nations, Metis and Inuit people control over the delivery of health care in their communities. The Fall Economic Statement committed $15.6M over two years to support that effort.

Of the two parts of Call to Action # 18, the federal government and some provinces have “acknowledged that the current state of Aboriginal health is a direct result of previous government policies”. Only BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Yukon and the NWT have explicitly made an official policy statement to that effect.

With respects to “recognizing and implementing the healthcare rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law and under the Treaties”, only the federal government, BC and the Northwest Territories have each formally made any legislative commitment i.e. implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government addresses fundamental Indigenous rights – including Treaty rights – through the “Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples”

Current Status


Call to Action
last updated

February 15, 2024

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Background Content

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Bringing Reconciliation to Health Care

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Principles…Canada’s relationship

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Indigenous Health Organizations

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First Nations Wellness Initiative

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