Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that Ottawa will now pay for someone to travel with indigenous women who need to leave their communities to give birth.
Health Canada estimates $22-million will be spent on the measure in the 2017-2018 budget year.
“It is a major policy change for us,” Philpott said. “It requires significant resources in order to be able to do that, but it is absolutely a wise investment.”
Indigenous women without proof of a medical need to have someone escort them have long been forced to have their children alone and far from their land, language and heritage, said the minister.
Philpott said recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission included acknowledging the state of indigenous health and the fact it’s the result of decades of ill-informed government policies.
“There are a whole bunch of negative outcomes of that,” Philpott said. “What happens at birth has an impact on the rest of peoples’ lives for the whole family. So to have a positive, healthy birthing experience is extremely critical.”