Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping was in Alexander First Nation this afternoon announcing a second intake for continuing care capital cost funding.
But Copping said details for seven projects that applied for funding through the initial Indigenous grant stream are still in the process of being finalized. Negotiations are ongoing, he said, despite the intake being closed in December 2021.
The project proposals come from seven different First Nations that will offer continuing care both on and off reserve, the majority through new facilities. Funding will come from the $310 million figure allocated by the UCP government over three years in 2021. Copping could not say what percentage of that total funding was included in the Indigenous stream.
“We are still working through the exact amount…We do the evaluation and then we do the final contract…We haven’t targeted a specific amount,” he said.
He also could not say how much the projects would receive for operating costs.
“Once we do the capital grants, part of the conversation is also entering into operating costs because you can’t have one without the other. So that’s part of the assessment, the analysis that’s done, so that’s why it takes some time to finalize the agreement,” said the minister.
Operational funding will come from the continuing care budget. Budget 2023, he pointed out, highlights a “continuing care transformation” with $1 billion being invested over three years.
“A piece of that… is actually investment…we’re announcing today,” said Copping.
He said Alberta was the only jurisdiction to have an Indigenous stream for funding for continuing health care capital costs.
He added that as Budget 2022 included $200 million more for continuing care funding, there was the possibility of more than seven Indigenous projects getting the go-head in this next intake.
Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson said the program was part of his government’s reconciliation measures.
“This program incurs the best of both worlds. We’ve got Indigenous-led solutions…(that) allows Indigenous leaders and communities to build the facilities that best meet the needs of their members and in partnership with government,” said Wilson.
Today’s announcement was made in the Kipohtakawkamik Elders Lodge, which Alexander First Nation has operated for about 16 years. The First Nation is one of a few in the country to have a long-term care facility, said Alexander First Nation Chief George Arcand, Jr.
“As a leader in Indigenous care we recognize the importance of taking care of our Elders and our neighbours. When Elders are kept close they nurture and sustain our families. Elders pass on their knowledge, language, and Indigenous ways of living to the youth. Healthy Elders are the future of our nations,” said Arcand.
He said culturally appropriate health care that keeps families close together, provides dignity and respect for Elders.
“Sustainable on-reserve health care will ensure that our families will lead strong, healthy and connected lives for next seven generations,” said Arcand.
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Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.