Nurses demand progress on removing racism from health-care system

·2 min read

The Manitoba NDP are reacting to a letter sent out yesterday by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) that is asking for all levels of government to take steps to address anti-Indigenous racism and inequities facing Indigenous people, and to fund and deliver services needed to “redress the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.”

"As frontline health-care workers, nurses see the impacts of systemic anti-Indigenous racism in Manitoba every day and they’re fed up with inaction from all levels of government,” NDP Health-care critic Uzoma Asagwara said in an email on Wednesday.

“The PC government needs to listen to the expert advice of nurses and the voices of those with lived experiences of racism, and provide safe drinking water and address other social determinants of health, while delivering culturally-appropriate and respectful healthcare to all Indigenous people.

“And they must fully implement Jordan’s Principle immediately to ensure all Indigenous children have the health-care supports they need to thrive."

The Government of Canada states on their website that Jordan's Principle is a “basic principle used in Canada to ensure that First Nations children living on- and off-reserve have equitable access to all government-funded public services.”

The statement from Asagwara comes one day after CNA put out a scathing letter asking for issues of Indigenous inequality, both in and outside of the health-care system, to be addressed by all levels of government.

In the letter CNA wrote that “damning historic injustices are very much alive today,” and that

“Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike are fed up. Longstanding, racist policies need to be tackled with the highest urgency and nurses intend to amplify our demand for meaningful action until it happens.

“The fact that in 2021, so many Indigenous people do not even have reliable access to safe drinking water is a purely discriminatory outcome that would never be tolerated in non-Indigenous communities in Canada.”

CNA are now asking for “urgent action in three priority areas,” with those areas being clean drinking water, better health and safer care, and for the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle as a way to “protect, honour, and nourish the lives of children.”

The Tories said Manitoba is continuing on the path of reconciliation.

"The department of Indigenous and Northern Relations is reviewing the letter we received yesterday and will be responding to the CNA. Our work to advance reconciliation is guided by the TRC calls to action and we will continue to listen, learn and work collaboratively with Indigenous leaders, communities and all Manitobans to advance reconciliation," said a government spokesperson in an emailed statement.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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