Mr. Speaker, in 2001 people from around the NWT gathered on the Hay River Reserve to develop a Social Agenda for the Northwest Territories. Addressing social issues was a priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories at that time, as it is for the 17th Legislative Assembly today.
Every day we hear concerns about addictions, early childhood development, school success, and family violence, among other issues. We all know that meaningful change happens when communities take control. The solutions to these issues come, not from government headquarters, but from communities themselves.
One of the recommendations from that gathering was that communities should build plans to enable them to access multi-year block funding for community wellness programs.
Mr. Speaker, it has taken some time and lengthy discussions with our partners at Health Canada, but, the time has come for this recommendation to be brought to life.
Our staff are building a schedule with our local and regional partners to support the development of community wellness plans in every community over the next few years. These plans will enable communities to access community wellness funding from Health Canada and our Department through a multiyear block agreement. The agreements will simplify reporting requirements and allow for long-term planning and local staff development. In addition, these community wellness plans will be a tool communities can use to document local priorities and to access funding from other sources. An added bonus is that these plans will help the Department ensure it responds to community priorities as it plans its prevention and promotion work.
Mr. Speaker, planning is not new to our communities. In 2010 every community completed an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan with support from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. Many of these comprehensive plans include reference to wellness programs as a community priority. This project builds on this kind of past work. Communities are not being asked to start from scratch. They are being encouraged to use work done in preparation for Self-Government, the pipeline, mines or other projects. The key is that they will develop their own processes where residents will ask themselves the following questions:
- Where are we now?
- What do we have to work with?
- Where do we want to be in the future?
- How do we get there?
Unlike, many other planning projects in recent years, we are not asking for a one size fits all in terms of process or reporting. We are encouraging our partners to build something that works for them.
Mr. Speaker, this will not be a GNWT or consultant-led process. The regional Aboriginal governments, community Aboriginal and municipal governments, or interagency committees are going to bring residents together to develop their community wellness plan.
For example, Mr. Speaker, in my hometown, the local Community Wellness staff will be involved in facilitator and report writing training in the next few weeks. These skills will be then used to lead the way in Fort Resolution. Taking the time to learn some new facilitation and reporting skills means that the capacity to do this work will stay with the community.
In the Monfwi Riding, the Tlicho Government’s Community Action Research Team will add a couple of extra days on to community engagement work they do every fall to lead this work.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Wellness Staff will be doing the same in their region.
Mr. Speaker, reaction to this project has been very positive. Many of our community leaders have said they are grateful that communities will have the chance to plan their own programs in a manner that works for them.
I look forward to updating Members on the progress of this initiative in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.