Indigenous health care needs won’t be served by Ford government’s plan

In its efforts to “modernize” Ontario’s health care system, the Ford government might have met its match in Ovide Mercredi, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Tanya Talaga writes.

After 150 years of colonialism — of Indian residential schools, of the Indian Act and the presence of Indian hospitals where First Nations and Métis people received second-class health care — the power of health-care decision making should not be left in patriarchal hands so clearly linked to the past.

Yet in Ontario, the Ford government is turning back the clock as it proceeds with the formation of the new super health care agency, Ontario Health. The new agency’s creation means blowing apart much of the current health-care delivery system — Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario and Local Health Integration Networks and others — and centralizing decision-making power to save money.

Or, as Health Minister Christine Elliott calls it, “modernizing” the system.

But by centralizing health care decisions, the Ontario government is doing exactly the opposite, returning to a top-down approach where health-care needs are decided by the few for the many.

The new agency threatens to derail nearly three years of negotiations between Ontario, the federal government and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) concerning turning over decision-making power about health care to 49 northern nations so they can bring health-care services closer to home. MORE

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