The Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.) while optimistic by the tone and actions to date of this new federal government is worried that soft commitments such as closing the gap will lose sight of many in critical need.
“Our association has seen a lot over the 40 years we have been in existence, yet we are seeing only marginal improvements in health outcomes.” Says Lisa Bourque Bearskin, President
The system is broken, especially when there are much higher levels of chronic disease and most government programs are under-funded. Bourque Bearskin notes “One reserve in New Brunswick gets funding from both Health Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs to cover 2 salaries for home and community care, yet that same community has needs for about 8 seniors, all in need of support.”
A role that the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada can play is to work collaboratively with federal and other levels of government, as well as partners such as the Canadian Nurses Association to ensure that the system is getting fixed. The Auditor General for example has repeatedly identified shortfalls for northern and remote community nurses, yet no progress seems to be made.
A.N.A.C. struggles to keep its doors open, and yet nurses are often the first contact any person has with the healthcare system. Indigenous nurses especially can offer much to identifying practical solutions that will do much more than just close the gap.
If properly supported financially, A.N.A.C. could be building the capacity of non-Indigenous nurses who work in Indigenous communities to strengthen cultural competencies as one example.
We proudly acknowledge the efforts to improve the lives of Indigenous children especially and the continued investments to education and housing. These steps will do much to reach the spirit and intent that was lost when the Kelowna Accord died.
The Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, celebrated 40 years in existence is the longest serving Indigenous health professional organization in Canada.
For more Information, contact: Lisa Bourque Bearskin, President
Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada 50 Driveway
Ottawa ON K2P 1E2