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Glen Abernethy – Enhancing Accountability in the Health and Social Services System

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social services is committed to publicly reporting on the performance of the health and social services system and our progress towards achieving the Legislative Assembly’s goal of an effective and efficient Government. The Department of Health and Social Services uses a number of different reports to ensure we are accountable to this Assembly and to the residents of the NWT. The Northwest Territories Health Status Report is published every five years and presents updated information on the health status of the NWT population. It is an important resource to help understand health trends, the changing burden of disease, and the effect of lifestyle choices on chronic disease and mortality. Physician Services and Hospital Utilization reports are also published every five years and provide profiles of the top five reasons or conditions, for which treatment was required. This again helps to provide a profile of our population, the burden of disease and the system’s response. An addictions and substance use report is published every three years and reports on behaviors in the population and the effectiveness of policy and programs, in changing behaviors. Health Services Client Satisfaction Surveys are conducted and reported on every two years. In 2013/14, we also undertook a client satisfaction survey of the Community Counselling Program.

Glen Abernethy – Community Wellness Plans

Mr. Speaker, having healthy, vibrant and safe communities is a key priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. This is why over the past year, we have worked with communities as they developed wellness plans, to set priorities and guide how wellness funding should be directed. I am pleased to announce that all of our communities are on track to complete their plans by March 31, 2014. These are living documents. They speak of the importance of supporting families and child development, celebrating culture, eating good food, being active, promoting mental wellness, building local capacity and building on community strengths. They identify priorities and will be the basis of work plans. Mr. Speaker, the Department receives eight million dollars from Health Canada to support health and wellness in Aboriginal communities. This year, we will allocate five million directly to Aboriginal communities on a multi-year, block funding basis, to support this important work. Funding can be used to support projects in three areas of vital important to our communities. These priority areas include healthy children and families, mental health and addictions, and healthy living and prevention. Communities will determine their own priorities, based on their wellness plans. The remainder of the funding is used to support the ongoing work of the new Division of Aboriginal Health and Community Wellness in the programs and services they provide to community and Aboriginal Organizations in their implementation of their plans. This work will also include the organization of territory-wide events.

Drop the Pop 2014 campaign begins with announcement of 2013 winners

YELLOWKNIFE (February 13, 2014) – The Department of Health and Social Services’ annual Drop the Pop campaign has begun in schools across the NWT.

This is the ninth year of the pan-territorial campaign, which is part of the Healthy Choices framework. Schools across the North that participate are eligible to be acknowledged with a cash award for their efforts to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.

Glen Abernethy – Pathways to Wellness: An Updated Action Plan for Addictions and Mental Health

Mr. Speaker, a key priority of this government is to make sure that NWT residents have access to the right tools and supports that they can choose from to help overcome addiction issues and poor mental health. As a government, we are committed to ensuring that our residents have as many options as possible to help them move forward on their path towards wellness. The updated Action Plan, Pathways to Wellness, which I will be tabling later today, combines the actions contained in the 2012 action plan, A Shared Path Towards Wellness with the recommendations from Healing Voices, the report of the Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness. It reflects actions the Department of Health and Social Services has committed to undertaking over the next two years and describes our progress to date. It describes how we will better utilize our $23 million dollar budget that supports mental health and addictions programs.

Glen Abernethy – Response to Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness

Mr. Speaker, the 17th Legislative Assembly identified the need to enhance addictions treatment programs as a key priority. Our government is committed to making sure that NWT residents have the tools and support they need to overcome their addictions challenges. Addictions is linked to poverty and to educational achievement. Addictions can affect parents’ ability to care for their children and meet their needs. Their impact goes well beyond the individual. Families, communities and even our economy can be affected. Mr. Speaker, we asked twelve respected community leaders to come together, to travel to communities, and to learn from our people’s experience of what solutions are most effective in this battle against addictions. I want to thank Mr. Paul Andrew, the Chair of the Forum, and all the members for their efforts. After the Minister’s Forum completed its work last year, 67 recommendations were put forward in the final report on how to move ahead with a plan of action to help people heal and recover from addictions. Many of these recommendations perfectly align with what is already laid out in our Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, A Shared Path Towards Wellness. The report also identified a need for new services and approaches. Initiatives that focus on spiritual and cultural healing are being incorporated into our approach to mental health and addiction service delivery. We are also focusing on the need for streamlined intake and fast turn-around in accessing treatment services.

Glen Abernethy – Anti-Poverty Roundtable and Next Steps

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to this Assembly’s goal of helping our residents become healthy, educated people free from poverty. A strong territory needs a strong society and all residents of the NWT should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of living in a prosperous, well-governed territory and to participate fully in a healthy, just society. Last June, I was pleased to table the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework: Building on the Strengths of Northerners. This important document represents input from key stakeholders and was an important first step. Later today, I will table in the House, the GNWT’s initial response to the Framework. Our government’s Anti-Poverty Action Plan outlines the commitments we will make, starting immediately, to improve our response to poverty in the NWT. Our Action Plan includes investments of $2.6 million. This new funding will support day shelter programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik, and to build new housing units in four small communities for residents who may need additional support. It will see $1 million in new spending every year to provide nutritious food directly to children and youth through established programs. This demonstrates our government’s commitment to taking leadership in the reduction of poverty in our territory, and will form a part of the Territorial Action Plan which will include actions by all sectors and all regions of the NWT. But this is only a start. We have always recognized that this government can’t tackle this issue alone. We need to partner with communities, Aboriginal governments, non-government organizations and business.

Glen Abernethy – Early Childhood Development Action Plan

Mr. Speaker, this Assembly’s vision of healthy, educated people contributing to a strong and prosperous Northern society starts in early childhood. The Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services have worked collaboratively to craft a renewed Early Childhood Development Action Plan based on best practices, national and international research, and the wisdom of our Elders. This Action Plan is the companion document to the Early Childhood Development Framework tabled in May 2013, and we will be tabling it later today. The Framework identified the need to emphasize the whole family, improve and expand existing services, and improve communication and awareness of available services. It also identified the need for qualified and dedicated staff, culturally appropriate services and in some cases, increased funding. The Framework built on existing successful programs, including the Healthy Family Program.