The Government of Alberta is making a major investment on National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

On Friday, the Province announced it is putting $27.1 million towards two grants: the Indigenous Primary Health Care Innovation Fund and the Indigenous Patient Navigator Program. 

The funding is and the programs are designed to remove barriers faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in accessing primary health care aligning with their cultural needs. 

Through the Patient Navigator Program, 18 organizations will receive up to $450,000 each in funding over three years.

“There is a significant amount of work we must do to rebuild trust with Indigenous Peoples – they face many challenges in accessing care, which has a profound impact on their health outcomes,” said Health Minister Adriana LaGrange. 

Some of the organizations receiving the grant include the Métis Nation of Alberta, Stoney Nakoda - Tsuut’ina Tribal Council, and Siksika Health Services.    

According to the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA), Indigenous peoples continue to face barriers in accessing health care, due to historic injustices and systemic obstacles still in the system. 

A lack of culturally sensitive care and language barriers are some of the issues Indigenous patients endure. 

In 2023, the Indigenous Primary Health Care Advisory Panel’s final report laid out 22 recommendations for improving health care for Indigenous peoples. This included addressing racism in the health care system, implementing a recruitment and retention plan for physicians in Indigenous communities, providing timely funding and delivery for medical equipment and supplies that are currently unfunded, and creating an Indigenous Primary Health Care Innovation Fund. 

The Province said in its announcement Friday that they’re investing $20 million over two years to support eligible projects under the Innovation Fund. 

“Partnering with Indigenous communities to achieve better outcomes is what reconciliation is all about,” said Minister of Indigenous Relations, Rick Wilson. “These grant programs will help improve health equity for Indigenous people across the province through Indigenous-led solutions.”