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1979 - Policy of the federal government concerning Indian Health Services, states that there are no statutory or treaty rights to health

January 2, 1979

The 1979 policy removed the issue of treaty rights from health policy considerations, and then assigned it to Indian Affairs. A further important aspect of the new policy was the recognition that First Nation and Inuit communities could take over any or all aspect(s) of the administration of their own community health programs, at their discretion and with the support of the Department of National Health and Welfare.-



"The Federal Government's Indian Health Policy reflects these features in its approach to programs for Indian people. The over-riding concern from which the policy stems is the intolerably low level of health of many Indian people, who exist under conditions rooted in poverty and community decline. The Federal Government realizes that only Indian communities themselves can change these root causes and that to do so will require the wholehearted support of the larger Canadian community. Hence, the goal of Federal Indian Health Policy is to achieve an increasing level of health in Indian communities, generated and maintained by the Indian communities themselves."

- Indian Health Policy of 1979




Digging Deeper


Waldram, J. B., Herring, A., & Young, T. K. (2010). Aboriginal health in Canada: historical, cultural, and epidemiological perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


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