WHAT’S being called the first ever health care agreement of its kind in B.C. was signed Oct. 21 between the Nisga’a Nation of the Nass Valley and the North West Regional Hospital District.
It sets out the ability of the Nisga’a Lisims Government to ask the hospital district for financial assistance for either construction of health care facilities or in the purchase of medical equipment within its jurisdiction.
The Nisga’a joined the hospital district in 2015 and properties within the Lisims government jurisdiction began paying hospital tax that year.
Hospital district chair Harry Nyce said the memorandum of understanding is unique because it is between a First Nations government and a hospital district.
“It’s the first one to my knowledge,” said Nyce. “We take pride in providing services to outlying areas,” said Nyce in citing the potential the memorandum brings to the Nass Valley.
“It’s good to partner up with the Nisga’a on this.”
Nisga’a Lisims Government senior Collier Azak, who signed the agreement along with Shirley Morven, the chair of the Lisims government’s Council of Elders, called the document “exciting” for his government.
“We look forward to working together with the regional hospital district to improve the health infrastructure in our region,” he said.
Both Azak and Nyce said the document is as important for its ability to share in health care costs as it is to establish and grow relationships between the two organizations.
“The hospital district grew by 2,000 square kilometres in 2015,” noted Azak of the size of the core Nisga’a lands and of the year the Nisga’a signed on to the hospital district.
Health services in the Nass Valley are provided through a stand alone health authority which has a main clinic offering basic primary care in Gitlaxt’aamiks and satellite clinics in Gitwinksihlkw, Laxgalts’ap and Gingolx.