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Health Canada and First Nations Health Authority Joint Letter to the Editor

Regarding article, “As B.C. readies $2.5B transfer to First Nations Health Authority, questions arise about unclear programs, missing $4M” (National Post, January 21, 2013)

2013-08
January 22, 2013

Your article, “As B.C. readies $2.5B transfer to First Nations Health Authority, questions arise about unclear programs, missing $4M,” is unfortunately a textbook example of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

The article does not portray the true picture of the British Columbia First Nations Health Tripartite Agreement and leaves out key facts that were provided to the reporter before the story was published. It is surprising that the reporter chose to put his full faith in an unnamed “source” rather than three on-the-record interviews with Health Canada, the concrete information found in financial statements, working plans and annual reports from the First Nation Health Authority as well as a comprehensive and independent audit from Deloitte and Touche.

The article was based solely on an incomplete, internal Health Canada working document that provides an out-dated and thus inaccurate analysis.  The working document showed areas that were not yet completed; all of these areas have since been completed to the satisfaction of Health Canada’s financial administrators.

There has never been an issue of misappropriation of funds or unaccounted expenditures. Independent auditors reported no concerns with the quality of documentation or accounting procedures and systems for either organization.

Contrary to information contained in your report, financial records that were shared with you clearly demonstrate there are no financial irregularities.  These audited financial statements are available online, which further reinforces the commitment to financial accountability our organizations share.

This tripartite agreement with the First Nation Health Authority and the government of British Columbia is an excellent example of how the Government of Canada is working with First Nations to help get results that improve the health of First Nation communities.

All partners have committed a tremendous amount of time, energy, resources and effort to achieve the progress made to date and we continue to make significant progress implementing our new governance relationship.  Health Canada, the First Nations Health Authority and the province of British Columbia will continue to ensure proper financial oversight continues on this initiative.

It is disheartening and most unfortunate that your story attempts to discredit these efforts.

Sincerely,

Michel Roy
Assistant Deputy Minister
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch,
Health Canada

Lydia Hwitsum
Chair
First Nations Health Authority

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