New Indigenous Services ministry aiming to improve health, quality of life

Jane Philpott’s briefing documents show the difficult job ahead for her new department.

The new Indigenous Services ministry has identified five “key” priorities Minister Jane Philpott hopes to address moving forward.

They are improving health, education, child welfare, better infrastructure (housing and water) and a new fiscal relationship.

“It doesn’t help anybody to be in denial,” said Philpott Tuesday at a media conference describing for far too long the federal government has underfunded these key areas.

Watch APTN’s Todd Lamirande’s report from Ottawa:


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in August he was splitting the Indigenous Affairs department in two with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs handling land claims and self-governance and Philpott’s new department taking over government programs on health, child welfare, education and infrastructure.

The priorities will also focus on self-determination, meaning the goal is for the department to disappear.

“This department should disappear over time. Services to Indigenous people should… be delivered by Indigenous organizations,” said Jean Francois Tremblay, deputy minister.

Philpott looked to the West Coast as a template moving forward.

“One of the best examples of that is British Columbia where we have seen the tremendous success of the British Columbia First Nations Health Authority which has entirely taken over the leadership, the management and delivery of health services for First Nations in British Columbia,” she said

Later this week, Philpott is hosting an emergency meeting on child welfare on reserves, which she said is the most pressing issue for her new department.

“The meeting this week is not going to be about finding blame, the meeting this week is saying nobody thinks that what’s happening now is right, who’s prepared to look at alternative models? How are we going to fund those alternative models? How are we going to change policies so that kids can be with their families?” she said.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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