Provincial Cuts Worsen Métis Healthcare Crisis
November 30, 2016
In a shocking and unforeseen announcement on Nov. 29, 2016, the Government of Manitoba cut all funding for Métis-related health programs and services, effective immediately.
Each year the provincial government spends over $6 billion on healthcare, with the portion previously allotted to the Métis being a mere $650,000. Statistically, for every hundred dollars spent on healthcare by the province, this equates to a meagre one cent being allotted to the Métis for proactive research and preventative care.
Now, the Government of Manitoba is choosing to pay for their budget cuts with the lives of Manitoba Métis Citizens, who are already widely underserved and undervalued when it comes to government programs and services. The Métis are facing a severe healthcare crisis and it is a fact of which the provincial government is fully aware.
According to the Profile of Metis Health Status and Healthcare Utilization in Manitoba: A Population-based Study conducted over a four year period by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and the University of Manitoba and published in 2010, Métis are 21% more likely to die prematurely (before age 75) than all other Manitobans, 34% more likely to develop diabetes, 40% more likely to develop heart disease, and 49% more likely to have a lower limb amputated. These statistics indicate a frightening number of healthcare issues faced by the Manitoba Métis.
After years of no provincial healthcare support, the MMF was able to secure $650,000 from the Manitoba Government in 2012 to invest in Métis healthcare and preventative care. The $650,000 funding continued annually for four years – until now.
“That’s four years in a row we’ve been getting that funding. Prior to that, we didn’t get anything,” said President David Chartrand. “We finally had a breakthrough in 2012 because the government could no longer discount the results of this study. They were able to see with their own eyes that Métis were – and still are – in a crisis situation.”
The MMF has spent the last four years working in partnership with the Province to put in place a preventative healthcare plan. By hiring staff across Manitoba to build and deliver programs such as the Housing First program managed by Health & Wellness staff at the MMF’s Southwest Regional Office, the MMF and the provincial government were moving toward decreasing the number of Métis in hospitals, and lessening the long-term effect of poor healthcare on provincial taxpayers. With this sudden cut in healthcare funding, a critical hole has been left in the lives of Manitoba Métis Citizens who relied on these programs and services for their health. The preventative care plan and shared goals the MMF and the Province had once been working toward have effectively been rendered obsolete.
Despite knowing the Métis in Manitoba are in a dangerous healthcare crisis and already receive among the worst healthcare services province-wide, the provincial government has indicated in this decision the Manitoba Métis Community does not matter. The Government of Manitoba has chosen to allow this health crisis to continue, without any path forward to ensure programs or services will be delivered to address the dire reality of so many Métis Citizens.
“This was our only conduit to ensuring we at least mattered, and they’re taking that completely away from the Métis now. We will be paying the price of this ill-formed decision with more crises, more illnesses, and earlier deaths of our seniors,” stated President Chartrand. “To offset healthcare costs through false austerity measures such as this, they are instead going to be paying for these cuts with the lives of Métis people. We’re going to hold them accountable for this, and we’re going to hold Canada accountable for this, because we do matter – and they know full well that there is a healthcare crisis for the Métis in the province of Manitoba.”