February 24, 2024

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Quebec bill to require Indigenous ‘cultural safety approach’ in health

5 min read

All institutions would be required to adopt an approach that takes into account Indigenous peoples’ cultural and historical realities.

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QUEBEC — The health and social services network could soon be obliged to take into account the cultural and historical realities of the First Nations and Inuit in all interactions with them.

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The Minister Responsible for Relations with the First Nations and the Inuit, Ian Lafrenière, presented Bill 32 on Friday “establishing the cultural safety approach” in health.

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It provides that all institutions will be subject to the obligation to adopt a cultural safety approach toward Indigenous people. This approach consists in taking into account their cultural and historical realities.

“Indigenous persons must be distinguished from other users … since they form nations with distinct histories and cultures,” the bill’s preamble reads.

Thus, any establishment must adopt “safe” practices, promote partnership with Indigenous people and be welcoming and inclusive of them.

Institutions will have to adapt “where possible” the service offer by means such as:

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— The hiring of Indigenous personnel;

— Access to support resources for Indigenous people, including within the framework of any complaints examination system;

— Mandatory training for all employees on the cultural and historical realities of Indigenous people;

— Consideration of the specific realities of Indigenous women and girls.

Furthermore, within three months of the end of their fiscal year, institutions must inform the minister of the reassuring practices implemented.

Indigenous people who do not meet the conditions for issuing a permit from one of the professional orders could potentially exercise certain reserved professional activities such as:

— Evaluating a person within the framework of a decision of the director of youth protection or of the court in application of the Youth Protection Act;

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— Assessing a young person as part of a court decision under the Youth Criminal Justice Act;

— Determining the intervention plan for a person suffering from a mental disorder or presenting a suicidal risk.

The objective is in particular to promote access for Indigenous people to professional mental health services, and to promote the culturally safe nature of these services, according to the bill.

The Legault government had undertaken to legislate on the issue of cultural security in the wake of the death of Joyce Echaquan on Sept. 28, 2021.

Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, died after being insulted in a degrading way by employees of the Joliette Hospital, as evidenced by a video that was widely distributed.

In 2019, the Viens Commission recommended the implementation of the cultural safety approach in the health network.

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