Canada Confirms Protocol On H1N1
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (INAC), and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief, Shawn Atleo, met today to sign a Communications Protocol to affirm their commitment to work together on pandemic planning efforts.
"Health Canada and INAC are committed to providing seamless support to First Nation communities as we prepare for an anticipated surge in H1N1 incidence," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Sound pandemic planning efforts are the cornerstone to surmounting this challenge and we are working together along with the support and guidance of First Nation leadership at all levels to help protect First Nation communities."
"The health and safety of First Nation communities is a priority for our government and we are taking real, concrete action that makes a positive difference," said Minister Strahl. "Coordinating our efforts with other federal agencies and the Assembly of First Nations will go a long way to help prepare for and respond to pandemics like H1N1 in First Nation communities. Once again, our government is showing its commitment to partnerships and collaboration to help improve the lives of Aboriginal Canadians."
"The Communications Protocol is an important step in improving communications and having more direct involvement in the pandemic planning in First Nations communities. First Nations communities will now have stronger communications options which will also ensure communication at the highest levels as issues arise in the course of planning and response, plus a forum to raise concerns. We hope the virtual summit will also improve transparency and access to information about H1N1, control and management for First Nations on and off reserve," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief, Shawn Atleo.
The Communications Protocol: Working Together on H1N1 Preparedness commits the Government of Canada and the AFN to work together to plan for and respond quickly and effectively to an H1N1 flu-virus pandemic in First Nation communities.
As the first demonstration of this commitment, the Minister of Health and the National Chief of the AFN will co-host a virtual summit specific to H1N1 in First Nation communities. The virtual summit will be used as a forum to provide First Nations with a comprehensive overview of pandemic preparedness tools, strategies, policies and guidelines in an interactive and ongoing format, bringing together key players and partners in a single, convenient forum to enhance communication and network with partners in all jurisdictions.
The three parties also reviewed a Joint Action Plan between Health Canada and INAC that outlines how the two federal departments are working together to ensure on-reserve First Nation communities are well-prepared to respond to H1N1 and pandemic issues. The Plan details a range of activities currently underway by INAC and Health Canada to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated approach to pandemic planning.
The federal government is also working with Inuit, Metis and urban Aboriginal partners to support the health and well-being of their people. Ministers have met with leaders of the Metis National Council as well as provincial Metis organizations. Also, the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians recently invited various government departments and agencies to discuss H1N1 as it relates to urban Aboriginal and Metis communities.