Province gives Indigenous health care a boost

By Mike Stimpson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

KENORA – Area First Nations will continue receiving primary care services in their communities thanks to $3.6 million in funding from the provincial government, the executive director of Kenora Chiefs Advisory said on Friday.

First Nation communities have historically experienced a gap in physician care and other primary health care, especially on reserve, Jennifer Dreaver said Friday after KCA and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford made the funding announcement.

To help close the gap, KCA launched an inter-professional primary care team including physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and dietitians, among others, in 2020.

Friday’s announcement includes $710,000 in funding from Ontario Health for that primary care team, which delivers on-reserve services in First Nation communities.

The other $2.9 million in the announcement is “funding that’s continuing, meaning KCA has previously held this funding,” Dreaver said.

“This investment into primary care is going to make sure our elders, our youth, and our people will be able to get medical guidance and help from the comfort of their home community and close to family and support,” said Chief Lorraine Cobiness, president of the KCA board.

Dreaver noted that the province’s funding for primary care includes investments in traditional medicine and healers highly valued in First Nations.

“Our government recognizes the tailored and targeted investments that are required to ensure all community members have access to top quality primary care – when and where they need it,” Rickford said in a KCA news release.

“The new specialized funding for an inter-professional primary care team at Kenora Chiefs Advisory means residents have access to holistic, coordinated care from a range of health professionals, all under one roof.”