Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

First Nations Health Authority one step closer to realization

B.C.'s interim First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has received the green light from chiefs and leaders to begin the transition into a permanent healthcare operation.

According to a press release, B.C. First Nations agreed to move forward in creating a separate health authority at the fifth annual Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey forum on May 15 to 17.

FNHA representative Doug Kelly said speed bumps slowing down the process disappeared after a change in the makeup of the First Nations Health Council, which will oversee the creation of FNHA.

Originally the council was made up of appointees of political institutions within the First Nations. The FNHA is set up along the same regional lines as the provincial health authorities, and now each region sends three representatives to the council.

"Since we've made that change, the work has gone very well. Because they own their representatives."

Kelly said FNHA is now working on completing the transfer of power from the federal government to the First Nations. The health authority is hoping to begin operating April 1 next year, but acknowledged that it may have to push that date back to October.

This new system of healthcare delivery for B.C.'s First Nations is the first of its kind in Canada -- a provincial health authority specifically managed by First Nations, separate from the provincial government.

However, ties with other B.C. health authorities are not completely cut.

The FNHA is divided into regional offices the same way current health authorities are. Within those five regions, First Nations authorities have formed partnership agreements with their fellow B.C. health authorities. For example, Kelly said, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has signed a formal partnership accord with the region's First Nations, through the First Nations Health Council. This partnership will work to combat a number of health issues, including youth suicides, which have prompted Chief Alphonse to declare a state of emergency.*

According to Kelly, these partnerships allow both First Nations and provincial health authorities to ensure the best quality care is available to First Nations people. The FNHA includes traditions, ceremonies, culture and tribal medicines in healthcare delivery, in addition to provincially-delivered services.

"We want to blend the best of two worlds," Kelly said.

Kelly said he hopes the FNHA will significantly change attitudes toward healthcare.

"We want to make sure that we develop our own standards. What we have in B.C. and Canada isn't what I would call a health system. It's a sickness system. You go there when you are sick, you don't go there to become well," he said.

Health Canada is funding the FNHA through a 10-year health plan and funding agreement, but Kelly notes that over time the institution will work towards creating enterprises whose profit will be used to enhance the existing budget.*

"That is part of our vision," Kelly said.

Story updated June 1 at 3:02 p.m.

Hanah Redman is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus