Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
In a document titled, Take A Stand - Prescription Drug Abuse Strategy, which was published by the Chiefs on Ontario in 2010, the authors said, "The abuse of certain prescription drugs has become an epidemic in First Nations communities. The epidemic is affecting communities and family structures through increased violence, theft, divorce, loss of needed human resources plus a host of other negative social problems."
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said tackling drug abuse is "a priority for our government and First Nations, and we are committed to working together with the provinces and territories to address this complex issue.
"Working with First Nations leadership, and our federal and provincial partners and agencies, Health Canada has been actively supporting the development of collaborative approaches to treatment and after-care programming that strengthen First Nations families and communities," she said in a press statement.
The newly-elected Chief of the Chiefs of Ontario welcomed the move.
"This is a good step," Stan Beardy said. "The solution has to involve all levels of government, as well as our own community leadership. Part of the solution must be to help reconnect the people, especially the young people, back to our basics, which is our special relationship to the land."
Health Canada says it will contribute an additional $2 million to support community-based programming in First Nations communities in Ontario this year and next.
This funding is in addition to the approximately $50 million annually which is provided to First Nations communities in Ontario to support mental health and addictions programming under various Health Canada programs including Brighter Futures; Building Healthy Communities; the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program; the National Youth Solvent Abuse Program; and the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.