Band-Aid Solutions Won't Change Much for Aboriginal Communities Fighting Prescription Drug Use

Ottawa – The government’s solutions for the Neskantaga First Nation are temporary and insufficient, according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, MP, Carol Hughes.  Neskantaga declared a state of emergency last week to draw attention to suicide in the community which lost two members in the space of two weeks.

Hughes, the Official Opposition’s critic for Aboriginal Health, questioned the answer she received from the Minister of Health when she raised the community’s plight in parliament last week.   Hughes says the government is merely providing short term assistance for this one community, when there are many communities facing similar public health challenges that deserve a long-term response.

“The temporary government solution is totally inadequate,” said Hughes.  “When will the government come up with a serious strategy and long-term help for the fight against drug abuse, suicide, crime and violence in Aboriginal communities?”

The issue has been brewing for some time according to Hughes who points out the small remote community has publicly asked for support to deal with problems related to prescription drug abuse for years.  She also says the Minister’s assurances given in March of last year have proven to be premature.

“Instead of playing political games the Conservative should act to end this crisis and start working on real solutions,” said Hughes. “The sad truth is that in a non-Aboriginal community, a similar situation would not be tolerated and substantial resources would already have been deployed to deal with the situation.”

The government has committed to send additional nurses and counselors to Neskantaga, but Hughes says that Aboriginal communities fighting prescription drug abuse and related issues require long-term assistance, not band aids.

“Why won’t the Government deliver, long-term solutions that this community needs, and in a country such as ours, they deserve?” said Hughes.