Good morning everyone. I want to extend a special welcome to Parliamentary Secretary Blair and thank MP McLeod for bringing us together for this important announcement.
Our government is committed to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of NWT residents by making sure they have access to insured health services.
This investment by the Government of Canada will help make sure that residents will receive the services they need in key areas. It will allow more patients who require critical medical services that are only available outside the territory to have access to that care.
It will support NWT’s oral health program and help prevent oral disease, especially in young people.
It will also allow us to continue our work to build a culturally respectful health and social service system.
On behalf of the residents and Government of Northwest Territories, I want to sincerely thank the federal government for your partnership and for this important investment, which will make a vital difference in the health care that northerners receive.
I would like to speak to you in more detail about the three programs this investment will support, but let me first set the stage on how we got here.
Our residents and the Federal Government understand that the Northwest Territories is unique and we appreciate Canada’s ongoing willingness to make special arrangements to ensure NWT residents get services comparable to southern Canada.
The unique demographic composition of our population, supported by years of government-to-government cooperation and negotiated land, resources and self-government agreements, means the GNWT has a legitimate and accepted role in providing public services to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Northerners alike.
I have travelled throughout the Northwest Territories, and met with many stakeholders and listened to their concerns. Some common themes were found:
Residents wanted better access and program support for Medical Travel, improve the health outcomes for our residents and providing education to our residents regarding cultural competency.
Medical travel is necessary due to the uniqueness of the NWT. The realities are that we need to go south for specialized services. To assist this program, we are committing $5 million dollars per year for the next four years to support patient transportation to receive the services they need to become healthy again.
For the next four years we will be investing $2.1 million dollars per year to continue the development of our oral health strategy and supporting our work in cultural competencies.
Improving oral health outcomes for children aged 0-5 is a priority of the 18th Legislative Assembly.
- Funding for oral health will be used for three objectives:
- Creating an integrated oral health program for all children within the NWT;
- Prevention and promotion activities that emphasize oral health as a part of overall health; and,
- Reduction of costs to the health system associated with acute dental treatments through increased prevention activities.
The final area of reinvestment will focus on improving cultural competencies.
I am truly proud of the work we have accomplished in this area. A key component of our commitment to Building a Culturally Respectful Health and Social Services System is being realized through the roll-out of cultural safety training for front-line workers.
This training will help eliminate gaps and barriers to services that some residents experience while receiving services. Ideally our staff will be better trained to provide culturally respectful health care programs and services.
Once again thank you to the federal government, Parliamentary Secretary Blair and MP McLeod for this investment.