We call upon all levels of government to:

  1. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health care field.
  2. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities
  3. Provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress?”

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) through the Indigenous Health Human Resources Task Force develops strategies for increasing the recruitment and retention of Indigenous health care professionals, and supporting cultural competence training for all health care professionals. In addition, the Association of Faculties of Medicine, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and The Canadian Nurses Association have all made recommendations to address this Call to Action.

Aboriginal Nursing in Canada Fact Sheet: 2016

Aboriginal health professionals include physicians, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, occupational therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, speech pathologists, dieticians, nutritionists, physiotherapists, audiologists and registered nurses, etc.

  • There are 13,010 health professionals identifying as Aboriginal of which 9,695 are nurses
  • 1.2% of all Canadian health professionals are Aboriginal health professionals.

The Association of Faculties of Medicine and the Canadian Nurses Association have both made commitments to increase the number of aboriginal healthcare professionals.


Association of Faculties of Medicine

Founded in 1943, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) represents Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in this country. Our member faculties graduate over 2,700 MDs per year; teach over 11,500 undergraduate medical students; train over 15,000 postgraduate trainees; employ nearly 48,000 full and part-time faculty members and undertake over 3 billion dollars of biomedical and health care research annually.

AFMC Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health – May 23, 3019

First and foremost, we need to stop thinking of Indigenous health as an optional topic…We have an obligation to respond to the Calls to Action of the TRC… We must be training a medical workforce in Canada that can contribute meaningfully to closing the gaps in Indigenous health, through all of the CanMEDS roles and in each arena of physician work.

Top 10 Prioritized Statement and Related Themes include:

Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment) # 4 Medical schools invest in the development of a critical mass of Indigenous Faculty and Staff with the appropriate supportive infrastructure to lead all aspects of Indigenous medical education including admissions, student recruitment and retention, curriculum development and implementation, and with structured presence on key decision-making committees within the medical school

Social Accountability and Community Engagement # 6 Medical schools focus on the development of meaningful relationships with the Indigenous communities that they serve using rights-based approaches to the co-creation of the terms of the relationship. Indigenous communities are recognized as expert resources for the medical school and are provided with the opportunity and resources needed to participate in all aspects of the admissions process, teaching, hosting learners, research and scholarship, and faculty development.

Stop Talking, Start Doing: The Social Accountability of Canadian Medical Schools and Indigenous Health

April 29, 2017 -. Since 2016, the AFMC Board has held open sessions to discuss areas of common concern and for pan- Canadian collaboration from the 17 medical schools and their partners. The 2017 session was held on the topic of the Social Accountability of Medical Schools in Addressing Indigenous Health.

The Objectives of the session were:

  1. To share knowledge and improve cultural sensitivity about indigenous health in Canada.
  2. To describe the progress that has been made and future directions in the contribution of medical schools to the health workforce in addressing indigenous health needs.
  3. To advance strategies in community engagement and community-based education.
  4. To share best practices and facilitate advocacy for indigenous peoples health in Canada.

Key Themes

In taking leadership in Indigenous Health, what are we trying to achieve?

  1. The emphasis, promotion, and integration of cultural safety in Canadian faculties of medicine
    1. Authentic and continued engagement between faculties of medicine and Indigenous communities and leaders
    1. The increased representation of First Nations, Métis, and Indigenous medical students and physicians
    1. The development of a core curriculum on Indigenous health as part of undergraduate medical education

Is there alignment between the health needs of Indigenous Persons in Canada and the Missions of our Medical Schools? Can we be more explicit about our Social Accountability?

1)   Integrating the needs of FNMI communities explicitly into FoM mission statements/social accountability mandates is warranted

2)   Resourcing, funding, advocacy, and research will be essential to embed FNMI needs as a priority area within Faculties

3)   There may be existing alignment between FoM missions and FNMI needs, but engaging and collaborating with FNMI communities must take place in order to identify those areas of alignment

Royal College of Physicians and and Surgeons

We share our expertise and maintain close working relations with Canada’s 17 university medical schools, national professional associations, national specialty societies, voluntary health organizations and government agencies. Our voice is respected and influential in critical discussions on issues that affect medical education, medical research and the delivery of high-quality health care to Canadians.

On October 26, 2017, the Royal College’s Council endorsed a resolution proposed by the Indigenous Health Committee of the Royal College (IHC) to include Indigenous health across all residency training programs, a step towards fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, including numbers 23 and 24.

The IHC, an independent body that comprises Indigenous physicians, scholars and other health care professionals, led the development of two flagship documents that underpin the Royal College’s actions to improve Indigenous health.

  • The Indigenous Health Primer (2019) provides core information about Indigenous health through stories and case studies of Indigenous experiences and essential knowledge for Fellows, health care providers, learners and educators in caring for Indigenous Peoples.

    Download the primer (pdf)

Additionally, the Royal College recommends the following resources to all on a journey to become a culturally safe provider to Indigenous patients: The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety online training:

  • Increases knowledge of the history of Indigenous people in Canada
  • Builds self-awareness of biases and assumptions
  • Strengthens the skills of those who work both directly and indirectly with Indigenous people to ensure they have access to culturally safe care

The overall goal is to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people and close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous British Columbians

Core Indigenous Cultural Safety Health training is designed for health authority and Ministry of Health employees as well as other professionals working in the health care field. This training was developed in British Columbia, but portions of the training are relevant across Nations. 

This training is designated as an accredited self-assessment program by the Royal College for up to 8.0 section 3 credits as defined by the maintenance of certification (MOC) Program.

Enrollment in Faculties of Medicine

  • 2003     1.0% out of a population of 3.8% (2006 census)
  • 2016     2.7% out of a population of 4.3% (2011 census)

See the San’yas homepage for further detail: http://www.sanyas.ca/

Canadian Nurses Association

CNA is the national professional voice of over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners across Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

CNA works to advance Indigenous health and nursing through its partnership accord with the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) and through its Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties.

https://www.cna-aiic.ca/en/policy-advocacy/indigenous-health – sthash.apy7nFJi.dpuf

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) participates in the Indigenous Health Human Resources Task Force under the Federal Provincial Territorial Committee on Health Workforce. The task force develops strategies for increasing the recruitment and retention of Indigenous health care professionals and supporting cultural competence training for all health care professionals. As a result of close collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial representatives, an environmental scan was conducted to take stock of current and notable past initiatives across Canada to increase the recruitment and retention of Indigenous health professionals and provide cultural safety training to health professionals working with Indigenous communities, patients and families within health care systems.

ISC included cultural competency training for new registered nurses and nurse practitioners employed by its First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. ISC also financially supports and works with the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association and other Indigenous health organizations to explore ways to recruit and retain more Indigenous health professionals and to develop cultural competency training for all health professionals.