Territorial Health Leadership Sign Declaration of Commitment to Embed Cultural Safety within the NWT Health and Social Services System

Yellowknife — February 26, 2019
News Releases

As part of the Department of Health and Social Services’ official release of the Caring for Our People: Cultural Safety Action Plan 2018-2020 today, a Declaration of Commitment was signed to embed cultural safety within the Northwest Territories’ health and social services system.

 

Signatories to the Declaration of Commitment included:

 

  • Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy,
  • Chair of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority Leadership Council Jim Antoine,
  • Chair of the Tlicho Community Services Authority  Ted Blondin, and CEO Shannon Aikman
  • Public Administrator for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority Brian Willows, and CEO Erin Griffiths,
  • CEO of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority Sue Cullen, and
  • Deputy Minister for the Department of Health and Social Services Bruce Cooper,

Through the implementation of the Cultural Safety Action Plan, the Government of the Northwest Territories aims to improve the health outcomes Indigenous residents and all Northerners.

 

An engagement process with Indigenous and northern residents, including health and social services clients, the NTHSSA Leadership Council, Regional Wellness Councils, and non-government organizations, four objectives were identified for the Action Plan.

  1. Creating an organizational culture of cultural safety.
  2. Strengthening staff capacity for cultural safety.
  3. Honouring traditional knowledge and healing approaches in care.
  4. Improving client and community experience.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to taking action to improve the lives of Indigenous residents and to working in partnership with Indigenous people and governments to improve the health outcomes of all residents. The Caring for Our People: Cultural Safety Action Plan 2018-2020, and the Declaration of Commitment align with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action for all health systems to ensure cultural competency training, support multiple mandate commitments of the 18th Legislative Assembly, and the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Culture and Heritage Action Plan.

Quote:

 

“We have listened to what northerners have told us and know that cultural competencies, cultural training and building a system based on strong relationships between clients and those providing care, is what is needed to achieve our goal of Best Health, Best Care for a Better Future. The signing of the Declaration of Commitment shows that we are committed to creating an organizational culture of cultural safety and to putting the needs of clients and their families first.”

- Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services

 

Quick Facts:

 

  • In the NWT, Indigenous peoples make up 50% of the population and experience greater health disparities in comparison to other residents.
  • Systemic racism occurs when institutions, such as health care, give space to discrimination whether it is intentional or not.
  • Cultural competency refers to the skills, knowledge and attitudes of service providers and reflects the process of building effective relationships with Indigenous patients.
  • Cultural safety is an outcome and refers to the ability of an organization and its staff at all levels, to provide care and services that are equitable and respectful of diverse cultures and practices. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination where people from all cultures and identities feel safe. 
  • The Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) sought advice from nationally recognized experts over the past four years in developing Caring for Our People.
  • In creating the Action Plan, health staff, leaders and elders visited other jurisdictions (Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, Ontario, regions of the United States) where cultural safety practices have been developed. 
  • The Health Services Integration Fund is federal funding intended to improve the access to, and quality of, health services available to Indigenous peoples. Since 2015-16, the HSS has received $1,476,387 to support and embed cultural safety across the Northwest Territories’ health and social services system. This includes the development of Building a Culturally Respectful Health and Social Services System document released in October 2016, the establishment of the Indigenous Advisory Body, and the development of the Cultural Safety Action Plan.
  • Through the Territorial Health Investment Fund, the federal government has provided $1 million annually for 4 years (2017-18 to 2020-21) for the development of cultural competency training.

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Media Contact

Damien Healy
Manager of Communications
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
1-867-767-9052 ext. 49034
Damien_Healy@gov.nt.ca