SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan MLA who is also a doctor says more needs to be done to close the health gap between First Nations and non-indigenous people.
New Democrat Ryan Meili says he sees First Nations patients who have been dealing with poverty and generations of struggle for so long and medication can't help fix their ills.
Meili told an aboriginal health summit in Saskatoon about attending the funeral of a 24-year-old woman from a reserve north of Prince Albert, Sask.
He said he had given the woman medication for HIV, but it was poverty that had put her there in the first place.
He said the treaty right to health care shouldn't just focus on First Nations people, but on everyone providing care and keeping people healthy.
Meili suggested a policy approach that would consider the quality of health when looking at any changes to education, governance and within other ministries.
"That might sound a little bit arcane, but it's really the idea that ... whether it's in education, in environment, in justice or health itself, all decisions go through the lens of will they improve or worsen the quality of our health," he said Thursday on the last day of the summit.
"Working ... with communities that are marginalized and largely First Nations and Metis, it's really difficult to watch people struggle — young people who should be healthy and in the prime of their lives —dealing with chronic and often fatal illness."