|Pikangikum – Google maps.|
The proposed solution: rush in 20 full-time “mental health workers” at a cost of $1.6 million. This adds to eight already there.
Pikangikum has a population of 2,100.
Over the longer term, we are told, the proposed solution is a “fundamental rethink of the way care is delivered on reserves.”
Yeah, that ought to do it. We’ll “rethink.” We’ll have a committee.
“The health-care system … First Nations people receive is not equal,” a local physician explains, noting “Canada has grown accustomed to witnessing this injustice.”
“It is inferior …. It is not equitable.”
This is obviously not true. One mental health worker for every 75 people? The people of Pikangikum clearly have access to more mental health help than anyone in Canada who does not live on a native reserve.
“Communities know what is going to work for them,” says local MP Bob Nault. “Why can’t we help support those plans?”
“Indigenous health has been focused on measuring the number of dollars spent as opposed to health outcomes,” adds Dr. Alika Lafontaine, the past president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.
In other words, the solution proposed by politicians and the press is to send yet more money to band leaders, with less accountability.
Yeah, that’s never been tried before. That ought to work.
To make things worse, that is. Obviously, no lack of mental health workers has caused the mental health crisis on this and so many other remote reserves. Nor has mucking about or oppression by the white man: these are the very places where the white man is not. The problem has to be the reserve itself; and its leadership.
Far from sending more money to the reserve leadership, increasing their power and control over the band members, the obvious solution is to get these poor kids off the reserves.
Apartheid is not an idea with a promising past.