Bioethics Blogs

Canada’s Biggest Health Problem: Indigenous Health

Alison Reiheld calls attention to André Picard’s assertion that Indigenous health is currently the most urgent issue in Canada.


In a recent interview in Chatelaine with André Picard, a well-known Canadian health columnist for the Globe and Mail, Picard discusses the deficits and merits of Canada’s healthcare system. For anyone working on Canadian healthcare or on health policy anywhere, it is worth reading. He discusses dental care, home care, long-term care, the effect of an aging population, and more. One of his takeaway quotes no doubt is “Nearly 40 countries in the world have universal healthcare, and it’s all more universal than ours.” But something interesting, important, and under-attended is raised when the interviewer asks Picard, “What is the most urgent issue in Canada right now?” Picard’s answer:

Indigenous health. It’s been a problem for more than 100 years. There’s a real opportunity to make a dramatic difference, quickly. The indigenous community is young and the fastest growing by far – more than 50 percent of indigenous people in Canada are under the age of 15. This is the time to stop generation after generation of disaster, poverty, isolation, addiction and suicide – we’ve created all that. We have an apartheid system designed to oppress people and it’s given the exact results it was designed to produce. Take away their culture, their language, their ability to earn money, their ability to have land, and then, oh, we’re surprised they’re the most unhealthy people in our country? It’s not a surprise at all.

Island Lake, First Nations Community

The problems are many for Canada’s indigenous people (Aboriginals, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.