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OTTAWA — The decades-long push to aboriginal self-government in Canada will cross a major threshold Tuesday with a historic, and potentially risky, change in the management of health services in B.C.
The federal government, which is responsible for health services on reserves, is handing over the budget, 134 staff, and the office keys in B.C. to a new entity called the First Nations Health Authority.
The authority will move into Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Pacific regional office in Vancouver on Oct. 1, and at the same time assume control of Health Canada’s several dozen nursing stations and health centres in B.C. Eventually, the authority hopes to build its own head office in a Lower Mainland First Nations community.
The new authority, with just under 300 staff, takes over the federal government’s $377.8-million annual budget that funds nurses, health care-focused social workers, dentists and, eventually, doctors serving roughly 150,000 aboriginals across the province.