Insights from a Jordan’s Principle Child First Initiative in Alberta: Implications for Advancing Health Equity for First Nations Children

Alison J. Gerlach, University of Victoria 

Meghan Sangster, McGill University  

Vandna Sinha, University of Colorado, Boulder 

First Nations Health Consortium  

In 2016, Canada was ordered to implement Jordan’s Principle by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In response to the order, Canada created the Child First Initiative to provide federal funding for provincial and territorial organizations supporting First Nations children’s health, education, and social service needs, including service coordination. In the shifting national landscape of Child First Initiative funding, there is a lack of evidence on how pediatric healthcare services are addressing the serious health and healthcare inequities experienced by many First Nations children. This paper describes the implementation of a Child First Initiative by the First Nations Health Consortium in the Alberta region and research findings that provide insights into the complexity and challenges of advancing First Nations children’s health and health equity within the current federal Child First Initiative mandate in this province. This paper highlights the need for transformative pediatric healthcare approaches that expand beyond an individual and demand-driven system and orient towards practices and policies that are socially-responsive. Also, this paper highlights that First Nations leaders and Jordan’s Principle initiatives play a leading role in the design and delivery of all pediatric healthcare services with First Nations communities, families, and children across Canada. 

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