Leaders with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in Saskatchewan are expecting the new First Nations Health Ombudsperson to be extremely busy.
“Time and time again, almost on a daily basis, we had our people calling and saying that they were mistreated or subjected to some type of racism,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “No one should be treated like that when going into the hospital but our First Nations people are.”
The FSIN signed a landmark agreement for the new office with the federal government during meetings last week–something the chiefs said, has been needed for years.
The FSIN cited a case that happened two years ago.
Cameron said that a James Smith First Nation woman suffered severe burns after being injected with potassium when she went to a Prince Albert hospital for a broken ankle.
At the time, the FSIN described what Janette Sanderson went through as “torture.”
Cameron said it’s just this type of case the new health ombudsperson will look at.
According to Sanderson’s daughter, Janel Kinch, her mom has limited use of her arm and hand.
“From her arm to her elbow, it burns every day. She has to put a cream on her, some kind of hospital cream they prescribed to her to settle the pain. So, she’s in pain every single day,” Kinch said.
Kinch told APTN News the family has until June to pursue a legal case for damages and is working to find a new lawyer after their legal counsel retired.
At the time of the incident, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said an investigation was ongoing.
APTN asked the health authority for an update on what has been done about her case, but in a brief emailed statement this week they said they can’t comment, due to patient privacy concerns.
The federal government committed $1.17 million to the First Nation’s Health Ombudsperson and it’s hoped staff can be hired and the office running within the year.
“This is our way of putting the health care system here on notice, it will not be tolerated anymore,” Cameron said. “We’re going to start building human rights cases, we’re going to start taking legal action.”