Special Meeting of First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders

Improving Aboriginal Health: First Ministers’ and Aboriginal Leaders’ Meeting

OTTAWA - September 14, 2004 - First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders agreed on the need for an action plan to improve health services for all Aboriginal peoples and adopted specific measures to close the gap between the health status of Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian public.

Although improvements have been achieved, the health status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada continues to lag behind that of other Canadians. At their meeting in 2003, First Ministers recognized that addressing the serious challenges to the health of Aboriginal peoples will require dedicated and continuous efforts. Broad engagement is required at all levels, both on the broad determinants and within the health sector. Recognizing existing constitutional and fiduciary responsibilities, First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders agree that all governments have an important role to play in improving the health of and the delivery of health services to Aboriginal people.

Today, First Ministers and the Leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Native Women’s Association of Canada reached an agreement to work together to develop a blueprint to improve the health status of Aboriginal peoples and health services in Canada through concrete initiatives for:



  • improved delivery of and access to health services to meet the needs of all Aboriginal peoples through better integration and adaptation of all health systems;    
  • measures that will ensure that Aboriginal peoples benefit fully from improvements to Canadian health systems; and    
  • a forward looking agenda of prevention, health promotion and other upstream investments for Aboriginal peoples.

The blueprint will recognize that programs and activities to be undertaken must recognize and respect the unique, specific and different needs of all Aboriginal peoples regardless of age and gender.

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Health and Aboriginal Affairs have been tasked to work in partnership with Aboriginal Leaders to develop a blueprint. As part of the development of this blueprint, they will explore practical ways to clarify roles and responsibilities of the various parties and report back to the First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders within one year. Further, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments are committed to working with Aboriginal Leaders to convene a First Ministers Meeting dedicated to Aboriginal issues including the critical determinants of health.

First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders agreed that this is an important beginning, that the work on the blueprint must proceed quickly, and must focus on the needs of all Aboriginal peoples for better health care and better health results. This will require a cooperative approach that all are willing to endorse.

The Government of Canada announced:

  1. An Aboriginal Health Transition Fund to enable Federal-Provincial-Territorial governments, First Nations governments who deliver health care services, and Aboriginal communities to devise new ways to integrate and adapt existing health services to better meet the needs of all Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis.    
  3. An Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative to increase the number of Aboriginal people choosing health care professions; adapt current health professional curricula to provide a more culturally sensitive focus; and to improve the retention of health workers serving all Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis.    
  5. Programs of health promotion and disease prevention, focussing on suicide prevention, diabetes, maternal and child health, and early childhood development.

The Government of Canada committed to further invest in the health services that it has historically provided to First Nations and Inuit.

The Government of Canada will explore, with other orders of government and Métis leadership, Métis health issues.

First Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders are pleased with the discussions today and look forward to proceeding with the work that lies ahead.

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Également disponible en français
For background information: www.aboriginalcanada.gc.ca

For additional information, please contact:

Government of Canada
Scott Reid
Director of Communications
Telephone (613) 957-5555

Government of Ontario
Chris Morley
Office of the Premier of Ontario
Cellular (416) 605-8143

Assembly of First Nations
Don Kelly
Director, Communications
Telephone (613) 241-6789, ext 320

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Stephen Hendrie
Director, Communications
Cellular (613) 277-3178

Métis National Council
Miles Morrisseau
Director of Communications
Telephone (613) 232-3216

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Bob Gairns
Telephone (613) 224-1451
Cellular (613) 769-3938

Native Women's Association of Canada
Sheldon Cardinal
Senior Policy Analyst
Telephone (613) 722-3033 ext. 229
Cellular (613) 290-5680

Government of Alberta
Marisa Etmanski
Press Secretary
Telephone (780) 427-2251

Government of British Columbia
Carol Carman
Public Affairs Bureau
Telephone (250) 952-1889
Cellular (250) 889-1121
E-mail carol.carman@gems2.gov.bc.ca

Government of Manitoba
Riva Harrison
Director of Cabinet Communications
Telephone (204) 945-1494

Government of New Brunswick
Chisholm Pothier
Press Secretary to Premier Lord
Cellular (506) 476-3196
E-mail chisholm.pothier@gnb.ca

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Carolyn Chaplin
Director, Communications
Ministry of Health
Cellular (709) 682-5093
E-mail CarolynChaplin@gov.nl.ca

Elizabeth Matthews
Premier’s Communications Director
Cellular (709) 690-5500
E-mail elizabethmatthews@gov.nl.ca

Government of Northwest Territories
Julia Mott
Coordinator, Cabinet Communications
Cellular (867) 444-3456

Government of Nova Scotia
Robert Batherson
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
Cellular (902) 478-1685
E-mail batherrk@gov.ns.ca

Government of Nunavut
Bill Clay
Press Secretary
Telephone (867) 975-5059
Cellular (867) 975-1317

Government of Prince Edward Island
Pat Dorsey
Executive Assistant to Premier
Telephone (902) 368-4400

Government of Quebec
Marie Claude Champoux
Attachée de presse
Bureau du Premier ministre
Telephone (418) 563-5321

Government of Saskatchewan
Anna Willey
Chief of Communications to the Premier
Telephone (306) 787-9268
Cellular (306) 536-5750

Government of Yukon
Andrea Buckley
Director, Communications
Telephone (867) 667-5270
Cellular (867) 333-1561