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Reserves declare health crisis

SASKATOON—Leaders of three Saskatchewan First Nations say they are declaring a health crisis, citing a three-year spike in deaths due to violence, addictions, and health issues.

The Keeseekoose, Cote, and Key First Nations hope their declaration will prompt the Sunrise Health Region, as well as the federal and provincial governments, to meet with the Saulteaux Pelly Agency Chiefs Health Alliance to discuss a plan of action.

Former Keeseekoose chief Ted Quewezance, now a senator with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, says lack of access to quality health care is the primary cause of the deaths.

He noted philosophical approaches such as the harm-reduction strategy, which aims to help drug-users manage their addictions in a safer way, have failed.

Members of the alliance want the federal government and health region to review the opening of a methadone clinic in Kamsack, Sask.

They point to a Health Canada report that found addiction issues escalated following its opening.

“The federal and provincial governments have become pushers of drugs as they fund narcotics and opioids under the government drug plan,” charged Quewezance.

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