Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide an update on our plans to improve care and services for our residents by improving the Health and Social Services System.
On June 4th, 2015, Bill 44: An Act to Amend the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, received Assent in the Legislative Assembly. With the Assent of Bill 44 we now have the legislative mechanism to bring the NWT Health and Social Services System together.
This milestone is the result of years of work and collaboration between many different stakeholders, including the Chairs and Public Administrators of the Health and Social Services’ Authorities, Aboriginal and community governments and health and social services staff from across the system. We also heard from the public about how to improve patient care and client service delivery.
Mr. Speaker, our goal in the process of system transformation is to improve the Health and Social Services System’s ability to provide the best possible care to patients and clients. We want the System to focus on the needs of clients, and ensure it is as efficient, sustainable and accountable, as possible.
The current governance structure makes it difficult to improve our System. With eight different health and social services authorities, there has been a lack of coordination, communication, and an inefficient use of resources. We are working to improve the governance structure so that we can take advantage of new technologies, improve capacity, and continue to provide high-quality services and programs in the future - while ensuring that we provide a consistent level of care for all residents.
Mr. Speaker, on April 1, 2016 six health and social services authorities will be amalgamated into a Territorial Health and Social Services Authority. The legislation also provides for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority to become part of the Territorial Authority at a later date, pending the negotiations required to bring its employees into the public service. The Tlicho Community Services Agency will remain a distinct entity, as provided for in the Tlicho Agreement, but will continue to be an important partner in our system and participate in system-wide planning and decision- making.
Advisory Regional Wellness Councils will be established to replace the current Regional Boards of Management, with the exception of the Tlicho Community Services Agency. The Regional Wellness Councils will provide for a more effective regional voice at the territorial level. The Chairs from each region, including the Tlicho Community Services Agency, will be members of the Territorial Health and Social Services Board of Management, which will be known as the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council.
Mr. Speaker, the NWT is a large territory, with different regions and cultures, each with its own priorities and challenges. Residents will now have a greater voice and influence on the services they receive, both at the regional and territorial level.
Despite our regional differences, we share many of the same problems, and it is much better to work collectively to address these issues and meet the needs of our residents. That means recognizing our diverse cultures, respecting Aboriginal customs and traditions, and working in partnership with Aboriginal governments.
Mr. Speaker, we are working hard to achieve our vision of “Best Health, Best Care for a Better Future.” As a step toward the move in the new system structure, today I am pleased to announce that Mr. Jim Antoine has been named as the Chairperson-designate of the Territorial Health and Social Services Leadership Council. Mr. Antoine brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the design and development of the Health and Social Services System, and has been instrumental to this work over the last few years.
Leading up to April 1, 2016, a dedicated team is working with health and social services staff from across the system to develop detailed organizational structures for the Territorial Health and Social Services Authority and the Department of Health and Social Services and accompanying transition and implementation plans to move the current system to the proposed new structure.
Improving our Health and Social Services System is a process, not an event, and will not end with the establishment of the new governance structure. We will continue to improve our system to better support its clients, and make it easier for service providers to deliver effective, efficient, patient-centred care and programs.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.