editorial: Canada’s NAHO folding because of budget-How is this right?
KJ Mullins-Toronto: Quietly on Thursday the Harper Government cut funding to the National Aboriginal Health Organization before Good Friday. Canadian citizen tax dollars appear to be needed more for military expenditures than for one of the most important Aboriginal programs in the nation.
In 2000 NAHO was founded overseeing research and outreach programs that deal with Aboriginal health. It is one of the most extensive collections of aboriginal health research anywhere on the planet. Health wasn’t the only focus, NAHO has a vast history of Canadian Aboriginal life with traditional tales recounted by elders on audio and video.
Despite the importance of NAHO their website posted:
“NAHO funding has been cut by Health Canada. It is with sadness that NAHO will wind down by June 30, 2012.”
In the world of government budgets where contracts for fighter jets can easily top $25 billion a program that works for the poorest group of peoples can find themselves without funding. In 2011 NAHO received $4,955,865 from the Harper Government.
How can a country that prides itself on diversity and freedom believe that there is money in the coffers for military planes that can cause destruction yet not have enough for their own people?
Perhaps the research found at NAHO was simply too shameful. In Canada services are provided for newcomers and those who dwell in urban settings readily. If you don’t have enough food on the table there are food banks to help see you through. If your children need help to stay in school there are programs. If you need clean drinking water……wait that’s not an issue for most Canadians. Unless you are First Nations. Those that walked this land before anyone from Europe bounded off of a ship are left out when it comes to programs to advance themselves and their children.
In Northern Ontario young teenagers, some just 13, have to move from their home in order to go to high school. It seems Canada doesn’t have enough money to pay for high schools in communities in the Far North. Is it any wonder that only 4 percent of First Nations people have an university education? One-third of aboriginals do not even graduate from high school.
Native Canadians have more diabetes, heart disease and tuberculosis rates than anyone else in Canada. HIV/AIDS rates are highest in native populations. In a nation where health care is provided to its citizens dysentery and shigellosis, diseases that are common in developing nations, thrive in native communities.
Why then would research dollars be cut when it is obvious they are so very needed?
The Budget Speech on March 29, 2012 delivered by Canada’s Finance Minster Jim Flaherty’s final statements don’t ring true in light of what is happening with NAHO:
“We see young Canadians, confident in their future; retired Canadians, secure in their senior years; Aboriginal Canadians, realizing their vast potential; new Canadians, strengthening our country as they have done in every generation. We see every region of the country, more prosperous than ever in our history. We see Canadian businesses and universities coming up with things no one has thought of before, leading to new opportunities and a better life for Canadians and for people around the world.”
When Flaherty stated, “We see Canada for what it is and what it can be—a great, good nation, on top of the world, the True North strong and free,” did he mean it or was his statement about stepping forward boldly really only meant for those who are lucky enough not to be born First Nations?