Canada and The First Nations Health Authority are being taken to court by the Inter Tribal Health Authority, to challenge a decision to stop their funding as part of a wider decision to terminate their service contracts. Until recently, they acted as Vancouver Island’s health services provider to 29 Nations. (Pexels photo)

Canada and The First Nations Health Authority are being taken to court by the Inter Tribal Health Authority, to challenge a decision to stop their funding as part of a wider decision to terminate their service contracts. Until recently, they acted as Vancouver Island’s health services provider to 29 Nations. (Pexels photo)

Unhealthy disagreement sees three First Nations chiefs take government to court

Claim and counter-claim: B.C.’s First Nations health department and administrator end up in court.

An acrimonious situation seems to be getting worse as three First Nations chiefs have taken the government to court, over the decision by B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to change the healthcare provider serving 29 Nations on Vancouver Island.

In 2013, the FNHA appointed the Inter Tribal Health Authority (ITHA) to deliver health funding and services, but the relationship has soured in recent years.

After multiple disagreements and even a reported accusation of assault, the two organizations have ended up in court.

ALSO READ: Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

On Jan. 21, the FNHA appointed Ganhada Management Group to oversee health service delivery to their Indigenous member communities, after stating they had a “responsibility” to terminate their agreement with the ITHA. This came at the conclusion of a three year consultation process and independent audit. The FNHA cited a plethora of failings including no-shows by ITHA-appointed contractors, inadequate electronic medical records and the poor delivery of mental health services. They also said that the ITHA had provided inconsistent levels of care and had refused to provide financial and administrative information, as required in funding agreements.

The ITHA dispute their findings.

In a lengthy statement, 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. Allegations that clients will face harm from the termination of service agreements are completely false and terribly damaging to people who are then convinced they will lose vital medical support. This self-serving attempt to generate panic and confusion is another example of the lack of professionalism we have seen through this process.”

ALSO READ: Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

According to the FNHA, one-third of member communities had complained about the ITHA, but some clients have met the decision with dismay.

Three days after the decision to switch administrators was announced, the ITHA filed a lawsuit, in conjunction with the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Tseycum and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nations 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.

Coun. Rick Johnson of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation said “the services have been good and we have a good relationship with the ITHA. If it isn’t broken then leave it alone.”

The parties pursuing the case argue that as the nominated agent for Canada, the government would breach its fiduciary responsibility to the First Nations if funding to the ITHA was rescinded.

Johnson said remote communities, such as the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, have different needs to those in urban areas. He said that his community was worried about the new provider and had “confidence” in the ITHA.

When the FNHA terminated their agreement with the ITHA, they suspended payment of February’s healthcare funds as they intended them to be disseminated by their new third-party provider. This was partly due to the ITHA refusing to engage with the transition process and locking their offices.

The ITHA filed an injunction against the decision not to send them the funds and a judge ordered the FNHA to pay February’s money, in the meantime, before both parties go to court for their grievances to be heard. February’s funds are $412,170.

There has been no judgement of wrongdoing against the FNHA.

A media spokesman for the FNHA said that the hearing, between Feb. 19 and 21, is not to challenge the FNHA’s decision to replace providers but to see if they were correct to suspend February’s payment to the ITHA.

There hasn’t yet been a judgement in this case and it is expected early next week.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

Just Posted

The Greater Victoria School District has postponed its budget vote until further notice and will be seeking help from an independent advisor on how to proceed. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD61 budget vote postponed until further notice

District requesting independent advisor to help review process, make recommendations

Protesters seen here rallying against the injunction order on April 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP enforce injunction at Fairy Creek blockade

Protesters can remain but police will ensure open access for loggers

A building in the 300-block of Mary Street sustained significant damage Saturday night after a suspicious fire was started. Police arrested an arson suspect Sunday. (Courtesy of Victoria Fire Department)
UPDATE: Vic West shelter resident to be evicted following suspicious fire

Building in 300-block of Mary Street sustained significant damage Saturday night

The Victoria International Airport saw its revenues plummet in 2020. Officials hope a proposed warehouse will be a significant revenue generator. (Black Press Media file photo)
Head of Victoria Airport Authority makes economic pitch for Sidney warehouse project

Geoff Dickson said Sidney stands to earn $325,000 in annual taxes

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Cadboro Bay teen meets with minister after advocacy against Coastal GasLink

15-year-old Claremont student and George Heyman discussed the project for about 30 minutes

(Historica Canada)
VIDEO: Heritage Minute marks 100th anniversary of work to discover insulin

Video centres on Leonard Thompson, 13, the first patient to receive successful injections for Type 1 diabetes

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
‘Obviously, he’s a fighter’: Golden eagle, recovered from poisoning, back in Kootenay wild

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

A pedestrian wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 is bundled up for the cold weather as snow falls in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, February 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snow possible in mountain passes as cold front hits southern B.C.

Much of B.C.’s southern interior will see temperatures plunge from highs of 30 C reached over the weekend

A fledgling white raven was spotted near the end of Winchester Road in Coombs. (Mike Yip photo)
Legend continues as iconic white raven spotted once again on Vancouver Island

Sightings rare everywhere in world except for central Vancouver Island location

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Most Read