The provincial government is allocating $15 million to improve the quality of health care services for Indigenous Quebecers, Minister of Indigenous affairs Ian Lafrenière and Health Minister Christian Dubé announced in a press conference on November 6.

The move comes on the heels of widespread outrage over the treatment and death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who recorded staff at a Joliette hospital using racist and derogatory slurs toward her on Facebook Live.

It is also based on recommendations from the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services, says a news release

Lafrenière said the funding program, dubbed 'J'ai espoir,' is part of the government's plan to fight Indigenous racism and discrimination in Quebec

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With this approach, we hope to forge a new path that will improve our relationship with First Nations and Inuit [communities], and ensure quality services for all.

Quebec's minister of Indigenous affairs, Ian Lafrenière, in a press conference on November 6.

The funding is set to be allocated through the province's centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) and centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) networks over the next five years, said Dubé.

The allocation also includes the addition of new liaison staff on-site in institutions to guide Indigenous peoples through Quebec's health care system. The 'navigators' will be recruited in partnership with First Nations organizations.

Dubé said the funding is the first step of the Indigenous reconciliation process in Quebec and is in line with the recommendations of First Nations advisors.

"We must implement measures that are necessary for First Nations [peoples] and Inuits so that they can have more equitable access to services and feel at ease," he said.

"I am very happy to be able to address important collective issues [and] I believe that it is urgent to [offer] concrete actions that will make a real difference."

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