Grand Chief Ted Moses and Cree Board of Health and Social Services Chairman Bertie Wapachee met with Quebec Health Minister François Legault in Montreal Aug. 26 to address several outstanding health issues.
The meeting was short on specifics, but Legault promised announcements would soon be made regarding the Cree diabetes epidemic and housing for health personnel. Negotiations on compensation for a deadly outbreak of gastro-enteritis in the early 1980s are also continuing.
Legault said great improvements had been made in regional health and social conditions in the past 25 years. “Yet the depth and prevalence of health and social problems* [in Cree communities] remain well below the norms of other regions,” Legault added. “Disparities of this sort are not tolerable anywhere in Quebec.” Moses said the meeting was proof that the health ministry is serious about implementing Section 14 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. “The Cree Health Board has been deprived of resources in the past,” he said. “Now we can continue on and catch up.” Wapachee was also pleased with Legault’s personal interest in the progress of the Cree health file. “We look forward to seeing issues resolved on both sides,” he said. “It is good to have someone of the minister’s stature willing to come to the communities.” Legault attributed the new willingness to improve Cree health and social services to the Agreement signed with Quebec last winter, saying it “provides all the formal commitment that we need.”