Government of Canada actions to reduce anti-Indigenous racism in healthcare systems
All Indigenous peoples must have fair and equal access to quality and culturally safe healthcare services, from any medical professional, anywhere they are and any time they need it.
Support for those affected by anti-Indigenous racism in healthcare systems
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On this page
It is unacceptable that First Nations, Inuit and Métis continue to endure systemic racism and discrimination when seeking the health care they need.
The Government of Canada is acting to address racism. We will work together with Indigenous partners and health professionals, governing bodies and provinces and territories to:
- end racism and systemic discrimination
- ensure equal and compassionate care of Indigenous peoples
What we are doing
On October 16, 2020, after the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, the Government of Canada convened an urgent meeting with Ms. Echaquan's family and her First Nation's leadership, Indigenous health practitioners and medical students, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation leaders, federal, provincial and territorial government representatives, health system partners and Indigenous experts.
The objectives of the meeting were:
- to listen to lived experiences of Indigenous peoples and health care professionals regarding systemic racism in federal, provincial and territorial health systems
- to reflect upon the information shared to inform concrete measures that governments, educational institutions, health professional associations, regulatory colleges, and accreditation organizations can take
- to commit to a second gathering in January 2021 where these proposed or implemented measures would be presented by governments and health care organizations
While the federal government can directly influence the provision of services on reserves for First Nations, Canada must work in partnership with provinces and territories, health system partners and educational institutions to advance anti-racism and cultural safety for all Indigenous peoples accessing services through those systems as well.
Real and effective change requires all of our collective actions in a spirit of trust, commitment, cultural humility and reconciliation.
On January 27 and 28, 2021, a second national dialogue was held, focusing on engaging federal, provincial and territorial governments, health system and Indigenous partners.
While continuing to honour the legacy of Joyce Echaquan and many other Indigenous individuals who have faced traumatic experiences of racism in health systems, the objective of this meeting was to discuss concrete measures to eliminate anti-Indigenous racism in Canadian healthcare.
On February 10, 2021, the Government of Canada highlighted funding of $2 million to the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw and the Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan, Joyce's community, to advance their work and advocacy for the implementation of Joyce's Principle. With this funding, the Atikamekw, including the community members of Manawan, will be able to develop tools and training, promote Joyce's Principle to healthcare professionals, and educate First Nations on their rights when using the healthcare systems.
For more information:
- February 10, 2021: Government of Canada provides $2 million to the Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan and the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw for the development of Joyce's Principle
- January 30, 2021 statement in response to calls for action to prevent and address anti-Indigenous racism in health care in Canada
- January 28, 2021 statement from the ministers on the work to eliminate racism against Indigenous peoples in the healthcare systems
From this meeting, and with our collective commitment to this work, we will develop and implement strategies to reform services and ensure that health systems are free of anti-Indigenous racism.
In working with Indigenous partners and health professionals, institutions and accreditation bodies, as well as provinces and territories, we are committed to instilling a zero tolerance approach to racism against Indigenous peoples across all healthcare systems in Canada.