A doctor writing on a chart. The recent court decision upheld the First Nations Health Authority’s decision to terminate its funding agreements with the Inter Tribal Health Authority, effective March 31st. (Pexels File)

Court approves First Nations Health Authority’s strong medicine

Lawsuit brought by three Vancouver Island chiefs, including Peninsula’s Tseycum loses in court

A judge has ruled against a suit filed by three First Nations chiefs, who sought to have the Inter Tribal Health Authority (ITHA) reinstated as the government’s chosen healthcare provider on Vancouver Island.

In 2013, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) took over from Health Canada to appoint and oversee Indigenous healthcare provision in B.C. When it took over, the ITHA fell under the FNHA’s umbrella of oversight.

Jan. 21, after a three-year audit, the FNHA terminated their funding agreements with the ITHA citing a litany of serious failings. They then appointed a temporary management group, Ganhada, to oversee health delivery to the 29 Indigenous member communities on Vancouver Island.

At the end of January, the ITHA won a temporary legal victory forcing the FNHA to release $412,170 worth of funds to them so they could continue to operate as the healthcare provider for the month of February, until the court case was heard on Feb. 19.

The ITHA lawsuit, brought in conjunction with the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Tseycum and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nations, was filed against Canada and the FNHA.

The Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw are located in Port Hardy, the Tseycum in North Saanich and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis come from Gilford Island.

On Feb. 28, the court ruled in the FNHA’s favour, upholding their decision to terminate their funding agreements with the ITHA, effective March 31.

The situation leading up to the court case has been somewhat acrimonious. The ITHA locked their offices to the FNHA and have, so far, limited cooperation with them.

In a statement before the court case, the FNHA said, “ITHA has failed to meet the most basic standards of transparency, accountability and service delivery, compounding this by making untrue and irresponsible claims to our clients.”

The FNHA say they received complaints from a third of all member communities about poor levels of care from the ITHA.

However, Chief Paddy Walkus of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nation is disappointed by the court’s decision.

“We would have preferred it to go differently,” he says. “The [original] audit was unjust as it only talked to a select few [First Nations], some had no input.”

Walkus says that he is wary of being cast as arguing against other First Nations and wants a consensus in the spirit of rebuilding and working together.

In the wake of the decision, the FNHA have begun the process of consulting with member communities, to hear how they would like their future health care provision to look. They say they have written to every First Nation and plan to meet with each one individually to discuss their views.

Walkus thinks trust has been broken, “It will be difficult to participate in any meaningful dialogue.”

The FNHA said in a press release, “Senior FNHA staff will continue to work with community leadership in the spirit of self-determination to ensure a seamless transition to new service providers.”

It went on to add, “At every stage of this difficult process FNHA has put the health and wellness of its clients first and will continue to do so.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Sexual assault charge dropped against former CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read