Jane Philpott is living proof of the adage that when one door shuts, another one opens — and sometimes it opens to the direction you were always meant to travel in.
Philpott, the former Liberal MP who resigned from cabinet over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s treatment of now Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould during the SNC-Lavalin scandal, is going to work for Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
The former Indigenous Services minister will be a special adviser in health care to the organization, which represents 49 communities in Treaty #9 and parts of Treaty #5 in northern Ontario.
Although it covers an area roughly the size of France, NAN territory includes just one hospital — in Moosonee — and health care services are nearly non-existent. Children who live there have died from strep throat, a treatable illness, due to a lack of qualified health workers and medications. A lack of mental health care has also led to desperately high rates of youth suicide.
“This is about the most meaningful thing I can imagine doing,” Philpott said on Thursday. “I will be at the service of NAN and where they see I can make a contribution.”
Philpott believes the time is right to build a health system in the north that’s run by First Nations.
NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Ovide Mercredi, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, have led the drive to wrest control of health care funding away from Ottawa and into the hands of NAN communities. Mercredi has often said that “white men in ties” should not be making decisions on First Nations health care, but it remains a federal responsibility under the Indian Act, a racist piece of legislation that has been on the books since 1876. NAN has been in negotiations for the last several years with the federal and provincial governments on an initiative known as Health Transformation to transfer health-care responsibilities.
Now Philpott will be joining that fight after losing her re-election attempt in the riding of Markham-Stouffville. “This is a good spot for me to jump in to,” she said. “Time will tell if I ever go back to politics as an actual politician.” SOURCE