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FNHC reacts to Federal government’s CDSA announcement

June 2, 2022

Coast Salish Territory | Today, the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) expressed its disappointment about the manner in which the federal and provincial governments announced changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). To take effect in BC in January 2023, the change will decriminalize small amounts of certain hard drugs for personal use as part of government efforts to destigmatize substance abuse.

“As advocates for health and wellness of First Nations people, we know our Chiefs and leaders were not meaningfully engaged in determining how these changes will be rolled out in First Nation communities,” said Wade Grant, Chair of the FNHC. “Canada and BC need to hear directly from BC First Nation Chiefs, leaders and health leads on this matter in a way that respects the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, as well as their Nation’s own interests and vision for change for health.”

Deputy Chair Wayne Christian added: “The FNHC has requested a meeting with Ministers Bennett and Malcolmson to review this announcement, discuss how our communities can help inform the implementation plan and how we collectively best support our peoples’ mental health and wellness.”

The toxic drug crisis. This is a complex public health crisis that disproportionately affects First Nations people. While we know that there are no easy answers, it’s clear that a top-down approach hasn’t worked for our people and that healing requires reclaiming traditional approaches. The FNHC advocates for a wholistic, systems-based approach that recognizes the role of the social determinants of health; its 2018 Tripartite MOU contains a joint commitment to develop a long-term strategy to make progress on these factors that affect health outcomes.

The First Nations Health Governance Structure in BC.  Our model is the only one of its kind in Canada and one of only a few in the world. Our structure is autonomous and rooted in the wisdom and decisions of Chiefs and leaders who, in 2011, gave a direct mandate to the FNHC to be an advocacy organization directly accountable to them.

About the First Nations Health Council (FNHC). The FNHC is one of four pillars of the First Nations Health Governance Structure in BC, along with its partners at the FNHA, the FNHDA and the Tripartite Committee on First Nations Health, which includes the BC and federal governments. Its advocacy journey began in the early 2000s, including the 2007 signing of the Transformative Change Accord to address health disparities between First Nations people and other BC residents. The FNHC’s mandate is to oversee transformation of the health system, make progress on the Social Determinants for Health and advocate for First Nations decision-making in health and wellness. The FNHC provides political leadership for implementation of Tripartite commitments and supports the health priorities for BC First Nations. For information, visit FNHC.ca.

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