Glen Abernethy: Health and Social Services System Transformation Implementation

Mr. Speaker, the Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories commits to improving care for our people through integration of the health and social services system. We are working towards building a unified Health and Social Services System that will deliver the best possible care for our residents. We have made significant investments in this work through our system transformation and I am pleased to announce that we are now reaching some important milestones.

We have announced the members of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council and Regional Wellness Councils for this new system. With this important step complete I would like to remind us all of the vision that brought us to this point and provide an update on how this work will progress leading up to the August 1st implementation date.

Health and Social Services system transformation is a change in governance that is designed to reorganize the way we manage and administer our system. This new governance model is the foundational piece from which future changes and innovations in our system will flow.

The new system will see regional knowledge brought to the Territorial Leadership Council table through participation by the Chairs of the Regional Wellness Councils. This approach was designed based on broad stakeholder engagement.

We heard through our public engagement that many changes were needed in access, consistency, and cultural appropriateness of care and services in our system. Come August 1st we will be looking at a new structure that will help us address these issues and break down systemic barriers.

On August 1st we will put in place the Territorial Authority with an excellent leadership team that can start to focus on making changes in key priority areas including:

  • Child and Family Services,
  • Mental Health and Addictions, and
  • Quality and Safety

We will also have the opportunity to consolidate finance and procurement, setting the stage to achieve immediate efficiencies, and improve our ability to track and maintain costs.

Over the next three years we will see each of these areas addressed and changes made to help improve care and service delivery and make our system more efficient.

As we find efficiencies in the system, such as shared procurement and contracting, we will be able to streamline how these services are delivered. While I continue to emphasize that this isn’t a cost-cutting exercise, it is clear that in order to deal with increasing pressures, we must find ways to contain costs.

In communities and regional authorities across the territory there are program teams and individuals who are doing great work and innovating to provide the best care and services possible. Under our current system, we don’t have a formalized mechanism to take those lessons and best practices and implement them across regions. The new Territorial Authority, supported by the Leadership Council and the Regional Wellness Councils, will change this. On August 1st our ability to apply these lessons and best practices consistently throughout the territory will increase for the benefit of all residents.

We are aware that change doesn’t happen overnight. System transformation is a process and it will take time for us to see improvements in health outcomes. I am confident that through these changes we will build a health and social services system that provides for the best outcomes possible for NWT residents.

As we come closer to the implementation date we will continue to work with current health and social services authorities to communicate with all staff in the system about the upcoming changes. We will also be working with the Tlicho Community Services Agency and the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority to ensure we carry strong partnerships forward as the new Authority comes online.

Finally, I would like to recognize the great work of all those in the current system including CEOs, board members and chairs, administrators and all of the staff working to provide the best care and services for residents. I know many of these individuals will continue on in the new system in new roles on the Regional Wellness Councils and Territorial Leadership Council, and I look forward to working with all of these individuals.

I will provide further updates on this work as it progresses, and I look forward to August 1st when our new Authority comes into force.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.