The Harper government is cutting a Manitoba program that aims to save the lives of infants.

The Strengthening Families Maternal Child Health program, which has been hailed by the Health Council of Canada as a best practice, is on the federal government’s chopping block.

In spite of the its past successes, the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch recently announced its plan to wind down the program in 2015.

Churchill Manitoba NDP MP Nicki Ashton says this is another example of the government’s disregard for First Nations women.

“What we clearly have is a prime minister whose government is hypocritical in deciding to give $3.5 billion to mothers worldwide and for newborn health and at the same time they are willing to cut the same kind of program, the exact same kind of programming for Aboriginal people at home,” she says.

Ashton adds the Harper government has a double standard when it comes to which communities it is willing to serve.

“Despite the fact that many First Nations people in Canada live in third world living conditions, Mr. Harper and his government is turning his back on the health of Aboriginal women and their children. It is unacceptable and that is why we in the NDP are speaking out against these cuts and pointing to the hypocrisy of this government.”

In Manitoba, infant mortality rates for Indigenous babies are twice as high as those for non-Indigenous babies.