First Nation set to build private hospital

Blog, Healthcare & Welfare, Joseph Quesnel

Innovation in health care is coming from an unlikely place.

A First Nation in British Columbia is using its unique constitutional position to create what is taboo in the rest of Canada.

The self-governing Westbank First Nation is set to build a 100-bed hospital to serve medical tourists and the wealthy.

According to this piece in the National Post, the Canada Health Act prohibits provinces from charging for medical services by threatening federal transfer payments. However, because reserve lands are within federal jurisdiction, that cannot be done in this case. There is also no penalty mechanism in place to prevent it.

Some sources say the move will be challenged on constitutional grounds.

The piece also mentions that several First Nations in Alberta openly considered setting up a fee-for-service facility in that province.

Let’s hope the hospital is a success and more First Nations use their unique position to challenge our system.