Ottawa, Ontario – January 28, 2021
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami participated in a national dialogue this week with representatives from Indigenous organizations, as well as provincial and territorial governments and the Government of Canada. In a wide-ranging discussion that took place over the course of two days, participants discussed experiences of systemic discrimination within healthcare systems, whose effects are compounded by systemic discrimination in other areas of public service delivery.
In his opening address, ITK President Natan Obed said that systemic discrimination against Inuit in healthcare systems can only be curbed through systemic changes in the way governments administer healthcare services, as well as through major new investments in initiatives that reduce social and economic inequities linked to poor health outcomes.
ITK identified six key actions that the federal government can take to curb systemic discrimination against Inuit in healthcare:
- Development and implementation of a federal Inuit Nunangat policy to formalize the fiscal relationship between Canada and Inuit and ensure that initiatives intended to benefit Inuit do benefit Inuit
- Supporting access to health services in Inuktut in Inuit Nunangat regions where significant demand exists, through mechanisms set out in the Indigenous Languages Act
- A national distinctions-based data system developed by the federal government in partnership with Inuit and provincial and territorial governments to ensure data related to Inuit health status is captured in a comparable way across Canada
- National Indigenous health legislation that supports Inuit self-determination in the delivery of health services, and enables Inuit to oversee capacity development, staffing, quality standards and the administration of healthcare services
- Federal spending authority, provided for under section 36 of the Constitution Act, to ensure that governments provide reasonably comparable levels of public services, including health services, across the country
- Support for Inuit representation in healthcare systems, including federal partnerships to ensure more effective approaches to recruiting and training Inuit healthcare professionals