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Lesa Semmler: Shared Health Priorities Agreement with Federal Government

Press Release

Mr. Speaker, last week we announced two significant bilateral agreements with the Government of Canada. These agreements secured two federal investments totaling $36.38 million dollars and demonstrate a shared commitment both to improving healthcare services for NWT residents generally, and to enhancing the supports for NWT seniors and Elders to stay at home longer as they age with dignity, close to their loved ones and community.

Of that total investment, $24.18 million dollars will be provided over three years, under the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians Agreement, to help strengthen our health care system.

This funding will be instrumental in supporting new and ongoing initiatives to address medium- and long-term human resource needs outlined in the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services System Human Resources Plan, released in June 2022. Current initiatives include the Family Medicine Residency Program, system-wide training and compliance tracking, cultural safety and anti-racism training, and employee engagement for retention.

We will also use this funding to formally establish a Territorial Public Health Unit, which will function in collaboration with integrated primary care teams to enhance operational oversight, increase regional public health capacity, and improve equitable access to services. By strengthening public health capacity, we can minimize service duplication, improve health outcomes, and provide effective and timely client care that will reduce hospital admissions and improve outcomes for NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, we will also establish a Territorial Addictions Medicine Team to help improve the coordination and delivery of shared addictions care. Over the next three years, clinical staff specializing in addictions will be added to our system. The program will formally establish inpatient Medical Detox programming, community-based withdrawal management, and comprehensive outpatient withdrawal management capacity, supported by telehealth and virtual care services.

This funding also supports suicide prevention and life promotion initiatives via the Community Suicide Prevention Fund. A new position will be created to assist Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations in accessing both the Community Suicide Prevention Fund and the Community Wellness and Addictions Recovery Fund. These funds empower recipients to implement culturally grounded suicide prevention, mental wellness, and addiction recovery programs, tailored to community and regional needs.

Under the Aging with Dignity Agreement, we have also secured $12.2 million dollars in federal investment over five years, which will support our work to improve access for residents to home and community care services and enable workforce improvements for long-term care to ensure safety and improved quality of life for long-term care residents.

The funding will advance the implementation and support the ongoing operational needs of the International Resident Assessment Instrument, which plays an important role in facilitating effective client assessments, ensuring services are meeting individual needs, and enabling continuous monitoring of health status.

Mr. Speaker, with this investment from Canada, we are also aiming to address workforce needs, striving to ensure that all our long-term care facilities can deliver 3.6 hours of direct care per resident per day. It will support updated facility equipment and furnishings; streamline infection prevention and control policies and processes; and provide training for housekeeping staff. These measures aim to ensure consistency across our system and enhance overall safety for residents.

Mr. Speaker, our NWT Health and Social Services System is committed to ensuring complete transparency and accountability. Annual public reports will detail progress on these initiatives, keeping Members, residents, and stakeholders well-informed about advancements and outcomes.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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