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

Just Posted

Inspirational Parksville youngster Kaiden Finley dies after cancer battle

‘He was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Development cost charges considered to fund regional parks

DCCs to assist in funding land acquisitions and development

Parksville powerlifter qualifies for world championships

Buhler sets personal bests in both raw and equipped lifting events

Wires left dangling after van crashes into hydro pole in Dashwood

Road closed while BC Hydro crews dealt with situation

Police go on hunt for distracted drivers in Parksville Qualicum Beach

One motorist ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and using a cellphone while driving

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Most Read