Mr. Speaker, over the past few years there has been an increased understanding and awareness that in Canada there is a disparity between the health status of indigenous people and other Canadians. Acknowledging this reality forces us to confront difficult issues, including the legacies of colonization and the residential school system, and the fact that mainstream institutions have often not served indigenous people effectively.
Mr. Speaker, one of the commitments the Government of the Northwest Territories has made for investing in early childhood development includes improving access to and outcomes of early intervention services by continuing pilot projects in the Dehcho, Tłįchǫ and Beaufort Delta regions. I am pleased to report that the three early childhood development intervention pilot projects established as part of the GNWT’s Framework and Action Plan for Early Childhood Development are well underway.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Glen Abernethy, issued the following statement regarding concerns recently expressed in local media. While the Minister cannot comment with respect to specific individuals, the Minister makes the following general comments:
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.
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Colleagues and visitors in the gallery are wearing purple to promote awareness for this important day.
Mr. Speaker, our work towards eliminating Elder abuse is done in partnership with the NWT Seniors Society and the NWT Network to Prevent Abuse of Older Adults. I would encourage all Members to read Creating Safe Communities for Older Adults: A Five Year Strategy for the Northwest Territories 2015-2020 prepared by the NWT Network to Prevent Abuse of Older Adults.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its Mandate to continue implementing the Building Stronger Families Action Plan to transform child and family services, including work around the Child and Family Services Act.
The main purpose of the Child and Family Services Act is to protect children in situations where they may have been harmed, or where there is a risk of harm. The Act serves the best interests of children by protecting them from exposure to abuse and neglect.
Mr. Speaker, in February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that certain provisions in the Criminal Code related to physician-assisted dying were unconstitutional. June 6th is the day the Supreme Court’s ruling takes effect across the country. Medical assistance in dying is an option for eligible Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, this Assembly has made it a priority to focus on culturally appropriate delivery methods for mental health and addictions services in our communities. To accomplish this we need to improve the services and supports that are provided to residents. We know that the current system needs improvement, and we must rethink the way mental health and addictions services are delivered.
Mr. Speaker, supporting quality early childhood development in collaboration with other organizations is a priority for the 18th Legislative Assembly. We all want the children of the NWT to have the best possible start in life so that they can reach their full potential. To realize this goal, the Early Childhood Development Action Plan was developed to address gaps in services delivered to children aged zero to five, by creating new programs and improving existing ones.