Manitoba government says it wants clarity on First Nations health care

The Manitoba government is seeking a judicial review of a human rights ruling involving health care provided to a disabled boy in a First Nations community.

Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke says the federal government is responsible for health care on reserves and the ruling has confused the issue.

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Last month, a Manitoba human rights adjudicator ruled the province discriminated against Alfred (Dewey) Pruden by not providing adequate health care and ordered it to pay the boy and his mother $42,500.

Pruden was born with a neurological disorder, is on the autism spectrum and suffers from vision loss and poor motor skills.

The hearing was told the province provided some health-care services but denied others on the basis that the federal government is responsible for health care in First Nations communities.

Adjudicator Robert Dawson said Pruden, who’s a member of the Pinaymootang First Nation 220 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, received less help than a non-Indigenous person in his situation would have.

Clarke said the province will pay Pruden’s family the money and offer health services until the judicial review is heard.

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“All Manitobans deserve to know what services they can access when they need them, and we believe this ruling confuses rather than clarifies which level of government is responsible for providing health care and related services to First Nations people living on reserve,” Clarke said in a news release Wednesday.

“Canada has assumed responsibility for providing health-care funding for reserves in recognition of its historical relationship with First Nations people, and it’s now time to also own its role to bridge the health gap between those living on reserve and other Canadians.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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