Access to health care for indigenous people in Canada

Access to health care for indigenous people in Canada

Several barriers hinder the indigenous people in Canada from accessing quality health care. Among them are the high levels of discrimination, racism, and financial constraints. Transportation and housing are also a major challenge for people living in rural areas, as they have to travel to urban areas for further treatment.

Discrimination of the indigenous people is evident in the health care system. Most physicians are hesitant to prescribe painkillers to them due to the stereotype that makes them believe that the indigenous people are addicted to them. In spite of the high prevalence rates of respiratory infections, cancer, diabetes, chronic diseases, and other infections. The number of indigenous people in the health care system is still low. This is because of disparities in the provision of health care.

Physicians believe that indigenous people are not able to express their health concerns well. Some of them depend on traditional medicine. There is also a lack of culturally relevant and safe care. Medical professionals should undergo indigenous cultural competency training to improve their skills in the provision of health care. Given that there is a transportation problem for those living in rural areas, health care providers should seek alternative ways to ensure they fund the transportation of patients from rural areas. The population of Canada is increasing and a large number of people have moved to the urban areas. Close to half of the population lives in urban areas. Urban areas are closer to social amenities and health care services.

Apart from discrimination, unemployment, low education and poverty have also contributed to a lack of quality care for most indigenous people. Poverty and unemployment make people buy affordable over the counter drugs even when they are suffering from serious illnesses that need medical attention. Low education has also contributed to the reluctance to seek quality health care.

Medical practitioners are providing poor quality health care. A research conducted in Canada revealed that physicians are hesitant to admit indigenous patients even when they are in serious health conditions. The non-indigenous patients receive more quality care compared to the indigenous. Hospital programs should cooperate with community support to ensure that referrals are completed and the needs of the patients are met.

The provision of health care to the indigenous people does not match that of the non-indigenous. It is characterized by inequalities, racism, discrimination, and disparities. Health care providers should bridge the gaps to ensure all people receive quality health care, including those living in rural areas.


Peiris, David, Alex Brown, and Alan Cass. “Addressing inequities in access to quality health care for indigenous people.” Cmaj 179.10 (2008): 985-986.

Marrone, Sonia. “Understanding barriers to health care: a review of disparities in health care services among indigenous populations.” International Journal of Circumpolar Health 66.3 (2007): 188-198.