Friday, September 18, 2009

Stop the Presses, breaking news: Feds finally do something right.

Health Canada has decided they should speak to First Nations about H1N1 concerns and is hoping it will stop the F*** ups. What a revolutionary thought. They are so excited about this ingenious new idea, that they will hold a Press Conference all about it tommorrow. Well, it's not much, but it's a start. Hopefully the government will follow up with other super smart and clever ideas - like access to clean water, safe housing, schools, doctors and nurses, economic development.... Now that would be worthy of a news conference. The one bizarre twist in this story is INAC flack Ted Yeomans' insistance that the body bag incident had nothing to do with this announcement. Uh-huh. Christ Ted, just say your sorry and stop being an ass.

Full story below.

Tories reach out to First Nations after body bag blunder
By Sue Bailey (CP) – 1 hour ago

OTTAWA — The Harper government is reaching out to First Nations with a flu communications strategy after this week's body-bag fiasco was blamed on a misunderstanding.

Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, will join Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl for an unusual weekend news conference here Saturday.

Sources say chiefs of some of the most vulnerable communities across Canada will soon have a conduit to raise flu concerns with Ottawa health officials.

The ministers are expected to outline a plan for regular meetings between assembly and government staff. Federal willingness to ease the exchange of such information is seen by some as an olive branch to outraged chiefs.

Ted Yeomans, a spokesman for Strahl, said that's going too far.

"Tomorrow's announcement is not a result of what issues were dealt with this week in regards to H1N1. What will be announced has been worked on for a number of weeks and has been planned for some time."

There is also talk of a virtual summit to allow First Nations with online access to ask questions of flu experts.

Not all communities will be able to take part, said one source close to the planning. But it's a start.

Atleo has expressed frustration with how Ottawa deals with far-flung, often remote First Nations.

He reacted with "disbelief" when Manitoba reserves hard hit by the H1N1 flu received several body bags from Health Canada this week.

A department spokesman said the shipment was part of "routine restocking" - not linked solely to a potential new wave of flu.

Atleo said the badly timed blunder shows why native leaders have been calling since last spring for a new approach.

"This incident demonstrates the urgent need to ensure pandemic planning is developed in partnership with First Nations," he said in a statement.

"I am urging the responsible federal ministers to work with First Nations leadership nationally, regionally and locally to ensure effective communication, clear planning and full engagement and attention on this matter."

Aglukkaq has vowed to get to the bottom of the body bag deliveries as native reserves brace for a second outbreak of H1N1 this fall.

Starting last spring, the flu pandemic disproportionately hit native reserves grappling with lack of running water and overcrowded houses.

Chiefs from some of the most stricken Manitoba reserves accused Ottawa of abandoning them. Some leaders travelled to the nearest cities to buy hand sanitizer and other supplies in bulk after federal shipments were delayed over concerns residents would drink alcohol-based cleanser.

Aglukkaq has repeatedly insisted that the federal government has a pandemic response plan to help all communities should the flu return in force.

At least 76 Canadians across the country have died from H1N1, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Other posts on this topic:

September 16, 2009: Expecting flu assistance, native reserves get body bags from Ottawa
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


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