Foundation for Change

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

October 19, 2010 - The Minister of Health and Social Services Sandy Lee provided Members of the Legislative Assembly with an update today on ‘A Foundation for Change.'

Mr. Speaker, I have often spoken about the importance of making careful change within the Health and Social Services System. Our 2009 to 2012 Action Plan, ‘A Foundation for Change’, provides the foundation for this careful change.

I launched ‘A Foundation for Change’ a year ago, and I am very pleased with the update I am able to provide you with today. The Health and Social Services system has remained very committed to this plan, and with very few exceptions, we are either on track or ahead of schedule.

The plan is divided into three main goals: Wellness, that communities, families and individuals make healthy choices and are protected from disease; Accessibility, that people get the care they need, and know where and how to find it; and Sustainability, that resources are used effectively and innovatively to ensure the health care system will be sustained for future generations.

We have provided quarterly reports on our work to date on the Health and Social Services website and at I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of our successes.

Under the goal of wellness, we have been successful in making a number of small but important changes in improving services for children in care. Adoption workers have received updated standards and training so they can better help NWT families through this life-changing process. The Foster Family Coalition of the NWT has worked with us to deliver new training to families in Fort Liard, the Beaufort Delta and Yellowknife.

Also under wellness, we continue to provide funding and education around a number of important healthy choices. Within ‘A Foundation for Change’, this has included health promotion funding approved for over 30 community-based programs in the last year that promote positive personal choices like healthy eating, physical activity and being tobacco free. In Tulita, a ‘Fun in the Sun’ program supported early childhood and family development last summer. In Inuvik, youth gathered to talk about the importance of staying tobacco free at a locally organized conference. In Fort Smith, residents joined together in a program to learn about losing weight and getting active. New projects to be funded for the next few months include a young leaders’ program in Nahanni Butte, a floor hockey program in Inuvik, and a breastfeeding project that will share stories from across the NWT.

The Wellness goal of ‘A Foundation for Change’ has also included education and vaccination programs against the spread of H1N1, a challenge that NWT health care professionals met as a unified and well-coordinated force.

One of the areas I am most proud of is the work we have done around Accessibility. Through funding from the non-profit organization Canada Health Infoway, we have been able to stay on target with our Electronic Health implementation activities, and have rolled out new telehealth systems, Digital Imaging, Picture archiving and communications, and Health Net. While we have a long way to go in this area, we are already hearing success stories from across the NWT. Many of these stories revolve around a theme of reduced travel and wait times, and increased accuracy of diagnosis and quality of care. In terms of sustainability, our greatest success has been in the work that has been done with our board chairs and CEOs working together as a system to meet our challenges. Health and Social Services Authorities and Senior Managers at the Department are exploring options to address the challenges as a system, and in doing so are improving the quality of decision-making and information available in NWT Health and Social Services.

Mr. Speaker, ‘A Foundation for Change’ is a three year plan. We have a lot of hard work still ahead, and challenging decisions to make, but we are on track. I would like to thank our staff, Authorities, the Joint Leadership Committee, the Members of this Assembly and our many partners in the support of this action plan to date, and for their ongoing commitment to this work.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

For more information, contact:

Press Secretary
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302