Ottawa – On Feb. 16th, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation reached out to the media in order to draw attention to the disproportionate number of band members’ affected by Oxycontin.  With a month’s end date to phase out the highly addictive opiate-based drug in Canada the Chiefs knew it was in for tough times when March rolled around.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation  is not alone in this struggle and First Nations who rely on the federal government for primary Health Care delivery are looking for immediate help, Carol Hughes told the House of Commons today.

“This is going to particularly impact First Nations communities,” said Hughes. “In Cat Lake First Nation alone, the addiction has affected 70% of the community, and in the Sioux Lookout Zone, of 25,000 members, 9,000 are addicted to Oxycontin”

Among the main concerns that public health officials are raising is that those affected will turn to other substances to fill the vacuum that will be created by the absence of oxycontin.  Without some form of assistance, the First Nations, for the most part, do not have the resources to help the sheer number of people who will be affected by serious withdrawal symptoms.

“Enforcement and health agencies are ringing alarm bells about the potential of a serious withdrawal crisis,” concluded Hughes. “What exactly is the government doing to work with enforcement and health agencies to deploy a plan to prevent this looming health crisis?”

The Minister brushed aside Hughes’ concerns and accused her of fear-mongering despite the fact that Hughes had brought the legitimate concerns of First Nations to the attention of the one person who has the ability to help.

“It speaks to the government’s lack of commitment to their primary responsibility to provide health care to First Nations,” said Hughes outside the House.   “I think they are being penny-wise and pound foolish if they can’t see the role they are obligated to play in this crisis.”





For More Information:


Jamie Burgess, Office of Carol Hughes, 613-996-5389 or hughec0@parl.gc.ca