Canada and The First Nations Health Authority are being taken to court by the Inter Tribal Health Authority, to challenge a decision to stop their funding as part of a wider decision to terminate their service contracts. Until recently, they acted as Vancouver Island’s health services provider to 29 Nations. (Pexels photo)

Three Island First Nations chiefs take government to court in health care dispute

Move comes after First Nations Health Authority dumps Vancouver Island service provider

Vancouver Island First Nations have a new health provider.

And an acrimonious situation seems to be getting worse as three First Nations chiefs have taken the government to court over the B.C. First Nations Health Authority decision.

In 2013, the FNHA appointed the Inter Tribal Health Authority (ITHA) to deliver health funding and services to the Island’s 29 member nations, but the relationship has soured in recent years. After multiple disagreements and even a reported accusation of assault, the two organizations have ended up in court.

ALSO READ: Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

On Jan. 21, the FNHA appointed Ganhada Management Group to oversee health service delivery to their Indigenous member communities, stating they had a “responsibility” to terminate their agreement with the ITHA. This came at the conclusion of a three-year consultation process and independent audit. The ITHA dispute the findings.

The FNHA cited a plethora of failings including no-shows by ITHA-appointed contractors, inadequate electronic medical records and the poor delivery of mental health services. They also said that the ITHA had provided inconsistent levels of care and had refused to provide financial and administrative information, as required in funding agreements.

“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. Allegations that clients will face harm from the termination of service agreements are completely false and terribly damaging to people who are then convinced they will lose vital medical support. This self-serving attempt to generate panic and confusion is another example of the lack of professionalism we have seen through this process.”

ALSO READ: Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

According to the FNHA, one-third of member communities had complained about the ITHA, but some clients have met the decision with dismay.

Three days after the decision to switch administrators was announced, the ITHA filed a lawsuit in conjunction with the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Tseycum and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nations 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.

Coun. Rick Johnson of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation said “the services have been good and we have a good relationship with the ITHA. If it isn’t broken then leave it alone.”

The parties pursuing the case argue that as the nominated agent for Canada, the government would breach its fiduciary responsibility to the First Nations if funding to the ITHA was rescinded.

Johnson said remote communities, such as the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, have different needs to those in urban areas. He said that his community was worried about the new provider and had “confidence” in the ITHA.

When the FNHA terminated their agreement with the ITHA, they suspended payment of February’s healthcare funds as they intended them to be disseminated by their new third-party provider. This was partly due to the ITHA refusing to engage with the transition process and locking their offices.

The ITHA filed an injunction against the decision not to send them the funds and a judge ordered the FNHA to pay February’s money, in the meantime, before both parties go to court for their grievances to be heard. February’s funds are $412,170.

There has been no judgement of wrongdoing against the FNHA.

A media spokesman for the FNHA said that the hearing, between Feb. 19 and 21, is not to challenge the FNHA’s decision to replace providers but to see if they were correct to suspend February’s payment to the ITHA.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Individuals chosen to begin ‘road to recovery’ at supportive housing facility

Orca Place at 222 Corfield St. is expected to open this summer

Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, Qualicum partner on studying child care needs

Union of B.C. Municipalities provides $125,000 grant

RCMP make arrest following break-in at Parksville’s Log Cabin General Store

Police credit tips from public for helping with case

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident well eating you could be penalized

Delta cat severely injured in animal trap was likely stuck for days, owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read