Over the past year, the North East LHIN has worked with its Local Aboriginal Health Committee (LAHC) to set priorities for the 11% of people in Northeastern Ontario who identify as Aboriginal. LAHC is comprised of senior representatives of Aboriginal health care organizations across the region. It advises the LHIN Board of Directors on health service priorities, opportunities for engagement, and better coordination of services within Aboriginal/First Nations/Métis urban and rural communities.
LAHC Chair, Gloria Daybutch, Health Director, Mamaweswen North Shore Tribal Council, says “as an advisory committee to the LHIN board, we value our relationship with the North East LHIN and our ability to quickly mobilize energies to help increase the health and wellness of the estimated 60,000 Aboriginal northerners living in Northeastern Ontario”.
A reflection on some recent North East LHIN achievements to increase access to care for Northern Aboriginal people includes:
- Cultural competency training for the North East LHIN Board of Directors. On June 10,Cheryl Hankard, an Indigenous Competency Trainer with N’Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Cutler, offered LHIN Board Directors a session to help increase their understanding of Aboriginal people, their language, culture, and history. The session is the first of many.
- Seniors at the Wahnapitae First Nation, who are no longer driving or don’t have access to a vehicle, can now get to medical appointments thanks to a wheelchair-accessible van funded by the North East LHIN. “We are very grateful for the wheelchair-accessible van. Eight seniors have used the van so far and it has made over 35 trips to Sudbury in two months for such things as medical appointments, shopping, banking and running errands,” said Lynn Cote, Health Director of the Wahnapitae First Nation.
- Implementing an Aboriginal Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) Strategy to help care for seniors with behavioural and dementia issues. The strategy has resulted in: 96% BSO community staff and 64% of long-term care staff trained in cultural safety training; over 500 staff from Aboriginal communities participating in training through BSO; over 20 clients supported from Aboriginal communities in the past year; and 30 partners from various organizations.
- In the James and Hudson Bay Coastal communities, the LHIN continues to work diligently with federal and provincial partners on a long-term strategy for mental health and addiction services in Attawapiskat in response to the community’s recent crisis with attempted suicides. It is anticipated that this plan will begin to be implemented this fall, and rolled out to other communities in the coming year. In addition, the LHIN has supported Personal Support Worker training in coastal communities with 26 graduates in the past two years.
- The North East LHIN and its LAHC are developing a Northeastern Ontario Aboriginal Health Care Strategy and Reconciliation Plan which will include specific actions to guide the LHIN’s work over the next three years. The plan will recognize the historical, contemporary and cultural factors that impact Aboriginal people, key to understanding their current health status and need for culturally appropriate health care services. Building on this foundation, the plan will help to address the health disparities of the Aboriginal population within Northeastern Ontario.
- Every year, the North East LHIN invests over $38 million to deliver front-line care to Indigenous people living in Northeastern Ontario. The NE LHIN holds accountability agreements with 37 Aboriginal providers, including:
o One Hospital (Weeneebayko Area Health Authority – WAHA, James Bay Coast)
o One Long-Term Care facility (Wikwemikong)
o One Community Health Centre (Misiway CHC, Timmins)
o 34 Community Support Service Providers, including three Aboriginal Health Access Centres
o Six Mental Health and Addiction Providers