Impact of Federal-Provincial Jurisdiction Debate on Access to Healthcare for Indigenous Peoples Living in Canada 

Indigenous peoples living on-reserve in Canada have long been burdened with inequitable access to healthcare services when compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. As a result, significant health disparities exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. While there exists a plethora of social, cultural, and economic reasons for such disparities, this essay focuses on the ambiguity in defining government-level responsibility for healthcare services. This ambiguity ​comes largely from the BNA Act of 1867 and the Indian Acts of 1876 and 1985, which fail to clearly establish jurisdictional responsibility. This essay analyzes the 2002 Romanow Report, the 2015 Auditor-General Report, and the case of Jordan River Anderson of House Cree Nation, in order to establish the negative impact of this persistent federal-provincial quarraling. Findings indicate that the ongoing federal-provincial jurisdiction debate has had a deeply negative impact on the ability of Indigenous Peoples living on-reserve to access healthcare services that are made easily available to non-Indigenous Canadian. Indigenous self-governance is briefly examined and proposed as a solution to the problems created by jurisdictional ambiguity and, more particularly, the implementation of a third order of government, in which Indigenous Peoples would be viewed as distinct political entities.

Written by Kathryn Nicassio

Kathryn Nicassio is in her final semester of the Community, Public Affairs, and Policy Studies program with a minor in Law and Society. Next fall, she will begin a Masters program in Public Policy and Administration at Concordia University. Her academic interests are in disability policy, health policy, and neoliberal globalization. Outside of academics, you can find Kathryn fighting for the rights of marginalized communities, speaking out against all forms of social injustice and oppression, and cooking up a storm​⁠—​ often simultaneously.

Edited by Chloe Hughes-Légaré & Stella Forbes 

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