Improving health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis seniors

senior ab report

A new report by the Health Council of Canada says that governments must make a greater effort to collaborate to improve health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis seniors. The report, Canada’s most vulnerable: Improving health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis seniors, shows they often do not receive the same level of health care as non-Aboriginal Canadians because of poor communication, collaboration, and disputes between governments about who is responsible for the care of Aboriginal people.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) contributed the following passage to the report:

One third of all Aboriginal people in Canada are Métis, a fact few people in Canada realize. The Métis population is also an older population compared to other Aboriginal groups. Our research has shown that many Métis seniors are experiencing significantly higher rates of chronic disease and other complex conditions compared to non-Métis Ontarians. There are also unique barriers to Métis seniors receiving the care and support they require. For example, Métis people fall under a different legislative and regulatory structure than do other Aboriginal groups and do not have access to programming supports such as the Non-Insured Health Benefits available to many Aboriginal peoples. Many Métis seniors also live in remote and rural areas, where access to services and supports can be limited. For Métis seniors with limited incomes, things like transportation to see doctors and specialists, and having the means to fill expensive prescriptions, can also serve as barriers to care. Finally, access to culturally safe care can be a challenge for older Métis citizens.

It is for all these reasons and more that the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) provides programs and services at the community level. Situated in 18 Métis communities distributed across the province, and based on a wholistic, family-centred model of care which is firmly rooted in Métis culture and way of life, MNO community centres serve as important cultural and service hubs that link our Métis citizens to each other, and to essential health services and supports in their local areas. The MNO community centres are especially important in providing our Métis seniors with the kinds of culturally grounded services and supports they need, along with help in accessing medical services. Some of our MNO centres also offer specialist services such as foot care clinics for seniors and other Métis people suffering from diabetes. MNO community centre workers do much in the way of outreach to Métis seniors in need of assistance, visiting their homes to help with things like meal preparation, house maintenance, and other tasks of daily living, while at the same time providing that important cultural connection and support. Through the MNO Community Support Services program we are also able to provide transportation services to help Métis seniors travel to and from their medical appointments.

For the many Métis seniors who are suffering from significantly higher rates of chronic diseases and other conditions, MNO community centres provide a place where they can meet with other Métis community members and receive much-needed support and care, and get help in linking to essential services and programs within the broader community. The centres also provide a haven for culturally safe community care, essential to the well-being of all our Métis citizens.

Click here to view the entire report.