According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the rate of tuberculosis among Status Indians is 31 times higher than Canadian-born non-Natives and for the Inuit the rate is a walloping 186 times higher.
Issues such as inadequate housing, as a result of overcrowded and poorly constructed homes unsuitable for the climate, and a lack of access to healthy and affordable food have been cited as contributing factors, particularly amongst the Inuit.
According to the statistical data provided by the PHA, it is almost as though a line can be drawn between the north and the south in Canada and between Natives and non-Natives. Natives in the south who live off reserves can expect proper living conditions and adequate access to healthcare, but for those in the north and on reserves, it is the diametric opposite. Poverty is abundant and the lack of access to healthcare contributes to a myriad of preventable healthcare issues, such as TB.
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization, has called out the federal government, demanding to know where the funding is to fight TB in the new federal budget.
While Liberal health critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett has expressed concerned about the rates and has called the figures “an embarrassment to our country”, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has spoken in the Conservative government’s defense about its financial transfers to the provinces and territories.