A new partnership will look towards solutions to healthcare and social issues facing Lethbridge and the Blood Tribe. The Intergovernmental Health Table is a collaboration between the city, Blood Tribe Health and the provincial government which will see the different levels of government meeting regularly to talk about major issues facing the communities and what can be done about them.
“We have been hit with some pretty tough times these past couple years with COVID, with the addictions and working together with this health round table, we are looking at solutions moving forward. How we can work together, what we can do to better the community for all and it’s something that I am absolutely thrilled that we are at this point. It’s been a long time coming and it really speaks to one thing I noted in our meeting earlier — the calls to action for truth and reconciliation,” says Mayor Blaine Hyggen.
Board member for the Blood Tribe Department of Health Martin Heavy Head says the collaboration gives an opportunity to cross jurisdictional boundaries between the city, Blood Tribe and the province.
“As we continue to be confronted with crisis after crisis, from addictions and homelessness and other socioeconomic factors, we have faced the most serious public health emergency in the modern area with the global COVID-19 that has devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of our people and exposed fundamental gaps and systemic problems within our healthcare systems that we are working hard to address,” he says.
The group had its first meeting on Nov. 22 and says it is working to be transparent and share information that comes out of it with the public. Charles Weasel Head, vice chair for Blood Tribe health, says they will look at opportunities for public hearing and meetings in the future.
“You will see a very close partnership with AHS and Blood Tribe Health occuring in the city, you’ll see supports for individuals who do not have a family physician, we are already starting that here in Lethbridge. We’ll have Indigenous physicians working with that clinic, we will also be working on some outreach to support people,” says Colin Zieber, senior operating officer at Alberta Health Services.
Blood Tribe Health is currently in talks to take over the Lethbridge homeless shelter and Weasel Head says they are just working out the details.
“The concept is there, the willingness is there and we think we are going to incorporate a program that’s definitely going to go above and beyond what we refer to as a shelter so we are quite excited about that. We know the challenge is going to be there but fortunately we have experience from the city of Lethbridge and individuals who have worked there before and we have made leaps and bounds with regard to education and capacity of our workers as well,” he says.