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 in connection to provider’s ouster rejected 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

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo Airport’s $14-million expanded terminal officially opens

Departure lounge, security and baggage areas improved

Nanaimo athletes shine at B.C. Winter Games

Youths from Nanaimo win 19 of Vancouver Island team’s 44 medals

Officials say no drought worries with below-normal snowpack

Snow pillow nearest to Nanaimo at 69 per cent of normal levels, says B.C. government official

Affordable apartments planned for Nanaimo’s Brechin Hill neighbourhood

Proposed development would be near Terminal Park plaza and B.C. Ferries’ Departure Bay terminal

Storm score a Game 2 win against Buccaneers

VIJHL playoff series between Nanaimo and Campbell River tied 1-1

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Francophone festivities in Nanaimo this weekend

French Canadian culture and cuisine highlight Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre d’Érable

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Most Read