Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The office of the minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit, Ian Lafrenière, has not yet specified when the committee's work on Bill 32 should resume.
After hearing the harsh criticisms made by several Indigenous speakers, Minister Ian Lafrenière now says he wants to take “the time to think about what happens next” before going further with his bill on cultural security in the network of health.
More than a month after having passed the stage of special consultations, the bill establishing the cultural security approach within the health and social services network has still not returned to the menu of the Committee on Institutions of the National Assembly of Quebec.
In response to questions from The Canadian Press, the office of the minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit did not specify when the committee's work on Bill 32 should resume.
For the moment, the minister says he is analyzing the submissions received. In two days of consultations, 14 people and organizations were heard. In addition, seven organizations submitted briefs without having been invited to testify before parliamentarians.
Ian Lafrenière said he “clearly heard the concerns” of the various speakers. The criticism focused in particular on the refusal to recognize the systemic racism suffered by Indigenous people and to adopt the Joyce Principle developed by the Attikamekw community in the wake of the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan at the Joliette Hospital in September 2020.< /p>
Several witnesses denounced a “paternalistic”, even “colonialist” approach, devoid of real co-construction with the First Nations and the Inuit. There have been numerous calls for withdrawal, postponement or rewriting of the bill.
- The network of health must take into account indigenous realities
- Bill 32 on cultural security receives a lukewarm reception at the AFNQL
- Three years after the death of Joyce Echaquan, “the fear is still there”
- Quebec is content with “piecemeal” initiatives for Indigenous people
A month later, Minister Lafrenière maintains that we must “work better together”, which partly explains his desire to take the necessary time before going further.
Coming down to four pages, Bill 32 only has five articles. Very non-binding, it asks health establishments to adapt their service offering “where possible” by, for example, hiring indigenous staff, offering support resources, offering training to their staff or by “taking into account the realities specific to indigenous women and girls.”
Indigenous voices see this as a new attempt to place the burden on the shoulders of individuals without carrying out real systemic transformations.< /p>
Urgency to act
Despite calls to step back and his own desire to take time, the minister repeats that there is still “urgency to act” in this matter. The latter recalls that legislating on cultural security is one of the recommendations of the Viens commission report.
Former judge Jacques Viens, who chaired the “Commission of Inquiry on Relations between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Quebec: Listening, Reconciliation and Progress,” also took advantage of the public hearings to declare that he is “ impossible to deny the systemic discrimination suffered by First Nations and Inuit.”
He warned the minister that without this recognition, it will be very difficult for him to move forward “despite all (his) good will and (his) laudable efforts.”
At the beginning of the month, the Public Protector added to this issue by presenting a report that was not very complimentary for the Coalition Avenir Québec government. It revealed that barely 11 of the 142 calls to action of the Viens commission had been fully implemented.
Marc-André Dowd then affirmed that “systemic discrimination against members of the First Nations and Inuit continues” in Quebec. He said he considers it “imperative that the state and society alike put an end to it.”
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