Photo: Minister Greg Rickford makes a $3.6 million funding announcement Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation on April 5, 2024.

Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory) is sending a huge Miigwetch to Minister Greg Rickford, the Ministry of Health, and the Ontario Government for a $3.6 million investment to support our communities and our people in need of healthcare services.

First Nation communities face a huge gap in service when it comes to the delivery of health care especially on reserve, and the goal of Kenora Chiefs Advisory is to ensure patients are seeing a regular care provider.

To help close the gap for First Nations people not connected to primary care in the community, the province is supporting Kenora Chiefs Advisory with $3.6 million in funding that will support the interprofessional primary care team.

“We are very grateful and excited to be here today for the announcement of this major investment into health care services on reserve,” said Chief Lorraine Cobiness, Board President of Ogimaawabiitong on behalf of the Board of Directors.

Chief Cobiness made her comments during a ceremony in Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, which included a feast of our Grandmother Drum to honour all the work done by KCA on this initiative,  a prayer from Elder Allan White, and remarks from Minister Greg Rickford, Kenora Mayor Andrew Poirier, Wauzhushk Onigum Chief Chris Skead, and KCA Executive Director Jennifer Dreaver.

“This is a service that has been so needed for such a long time and to see all the hard work of our people coming to fruition is a wonderful thing,” adds Chief Cobiness. “This investment into primary care is going to make sure our elders, our youth, and our people will be able to get medical guidance and help from the comfort of their home community and close to family and support.”

Interprofessional primary care teams connect people to a range of health professionals who work together under one roof, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered and practical nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitians, among others.

This funding will allow us to expand these teams within community, so community members can get support on reserve. Timely access to primary care helps people stay healthier for longer with faster diagnosis and treatment, as well as more consistent support managing their day-to-day health while relieving pressures on emergency departments and walk-in clinics.

This investment in Primary Care services throughout our communities will not only see expanded services from a Western medicine lens but will also include investments into traditional medicine and healers. Our interdisciplinary teams will work closely with those identified individuals from the communities to ensure a smooth harmonization of care for all members.

The $3.6 million in funding is broken down as:

–  $2.9 million in annual funding for Kenora Chiefs Advisory to continue providing proactive, coordinated care, and strengthening primary care capacity; and
– $710,000 thousand in new funding to support the sustainability of KCA’s interprofessional teams based care service delivery

“Our government recognizes the tailored and targeted investments that are required to ensure all community members have access to top quality primary care – when and where they need it,” said Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River.

“The new specialized funding for an Interprofessional Primary Care Team at Kenora Chiefs Advisory means residents have access to holistic, coordinated care from a range of health professionals, all under one roof,” he adds.

Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory) would like to again send a huge Miigwetch to the Ontario government for continuing to support vital access to primary care throughout northwestern Ontario, and to our frontline healthcare staff who continue to work tirelessly for our youth, families, and elders. We look forward to further collaborations with Ontario to continue strengthening our healthcare system.

We also want to take the time to say Miigwetch to the Chiefs for all their incredibly hard work and advocation, this would not have been possible without their strength and guidance. As well as a Miigwetch to the teams who go to work in our communities and fight for more robust services. We could not be where we are today without the support of the physicians, nurses, health staff, and everyone who makes up our primary care teams.