Health Canada

Health Canada

August 28, 2007 13:06 ET

Canada's New Government Announces $1 Million to Support Aboriginal Nursing Program at the University of Lethbridge

STANDOFF, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Aug. 28, 2007) - Today, Rick Casson, Member of Parliament for Lethbridge, on behalf of Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Tony Clement, announced $1 million over three years under the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative to help increase the number of Aboriginal nurses working in Canada's health care system, particularly in First Nations communities.

"Canada's New Government understands the importance of ensuring that there are enough health care workers in Canada who can provide communities with the best health care possible," said Mr. Casson. "That's why we're introducing new programs like the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative, which will focus on recruiting and retaining Aboriginal nurses to First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities."

Funding for this project is spread over three years and will receive $360,000 for 2007 and $320,000 for each subsequent year. This investment will be used to support students who are interested in entering a nursing program or pursuing a career in the health care field. It is expected that outside funding will be secured for the fourth year of the initiative and ongoing funding thereafter.

"The School of Health Sciences, with generous support from Health Canada, is delighted to introduce this Support Program for Aboriginal Nursing Students," said Dr. Christopher Hosgood, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge. "The program will create an academic support network that will incorporate existing nursing education with science education that is respectful of Blackfoot traditions."

The program will improve access to training, create a culturally appropriate context for learning, and provide tools to help students reach their academic goals. In addition, the University of Lethbridge has established a partnership with the Blood Tribe Health Centre where students can take their clinical practicum. Through a pre-nursing program, a buddy system, a social network and a bridge between the academic curriculum and the student's traditional culture, the University expects to have 70
Aboriginal students who have completed, or are in the process of completing, the Bachelor of Nursing program.

"This is an excellent opportunity for First Nations students to further their education in a way that respects and maintains our culture," said Chief Charles Weaselhead. "The program is an important step to help our communities recruit the nurses they need and improve the health of our people."

In the longer term, Health Canada will continue to work with the First Nations, provinces, and territories, to identify the best options and approaches for improving the health outcomes of all Aboriginal peoples through these and other innovative initiatives such as the Aboriginal Health Transition Fund.

The funding for this Program is provided under Health Canada's Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative, which aims to increase the long-term supply of First Nations, Inuit and Metis health care providers.

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    Suzanne Sauve-Hiron
    Regional Communications Officer
    University of Lethbridge
    Robert Cooney
    Communications Director