Health Canada branch shipped to new Indigenous Services Department

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott speaks with reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons before Question Period Thursday Nov.30, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott has officially been given responsibility for overseeing the delivery of First Nations and Inuit health services.

The federal government says the First Nations and Inuit health branch at Health Canada has been formally reassigned to Philpott's new department.

In the last year, the branch has been subject to criticism from Indigenous leaders for its handling of the suicide crisis plaguing Aboriginal youth across the country.

Philpott says the structural changes will allow the federal government to work more effectively with Indigenous partners to provide services.

This past summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initiated a major shakeup in how his government handles the Indigenous Affairs file, an effort critics say had stalled out.

He put Carolyn Bennett, who was named Indigenous affairs minister in Trudeau's original cabinet, in charge of the Crown's relationship with Indigenous Peoples, with Philpott focused on service issues, including fixing long-term water quality problems, First Nations education and housing.

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