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First Nations | Health
First Nations denied hand sanitizer despite flu


The Canadian government refused to provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers to First Nations even though the use of the product was recommended to prevent the spread of flu.

Native communities have been hard hit by the flu and the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. But Health Canada spent "days" debating whether Native people should receive an alcohol-based product, a physician who works for the Assembly of First Nations said.

“We heard that ... people were spending days discussing the pros and cons of a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer versus an alcohol-based one because of the concerns about addictions in communities,” Dr. Kim Barker told lawmakers, The Daily Globe and Mail reported. “It was absolutely outrageous.”

Native leaders also said the government failed to provide other products that are part of the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan. Garden Hill First Nation Chief David Harper said he ended up buying some himself before the government delivered them, 2-1/2 weeks later.

Get the Story:
Alcohol-based sanitizers for flu-hit First Nations delayed over substance abuse fears (CBC 6/23)
Alcohol fears led Ottawa to withhold hand sanitizer withheld from flu-ravaged reserves (The Globe and Mail 6/24)

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