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Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott and MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee announced in Winnipeg on Thursday that Manitoba will receive $42 million to improve health-care delivery in First Nations communities. (Jaison Empson/CBC) The federal government has taken another step in transferring control over Indigenous health programs to First Nations.

Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott announced $68 million over three years for Indigenous communities in Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan in Winnipeg on Thursday.

The money follows up on plans first announced in the 2017 budget to boost First Nations-led health services in sometimes remote communities.

"The idea is to increase the control and the design of health systems in the hands of First Nations governments," Philpott said.

"The health outcomes for First Nations are vastly different, in many cases, from non-Indigenous Canadians. If you look at the rates of diabetes, if you look at rates of infectious diseases.… The disparities are absolutely there."

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who represents dozens of northern Manitoba Indigenous communities, said the funding will help set up more services in communities, which will mean less travel for patients.

"We can bring these services to the north that are so, so needed," he said.

The initiative is somewhat similar to the move in 2013 to transfer Indigenous health programs in British Columbia to a First Nations health authority, Philpott said.

"The evidence is there that the health outcomes have improved considerably," Philpott said.

The funding announced Thursday will be split between the provinces, with Manitoba getting $42 million, Saskatchewan $13.6 million and Ontario $11.9 million.

Final funding amounts to each First Nations organization are still being worked out, Philpott said.

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