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Glen Abernethy – Community Wellness Plans

Glen Abernethy - Official Portrait

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.

Mr. Speaker, people still struggle with issues like addictions and family violence, and continue to have concerns about cancer and high rates of school dropout.  There is no one size fits all solution to address these issues.  Communities need to find solutions that are appropriate for them.  The benefits of having a healthy population go beyond an individual’s health status.  Healthy people strengthen the community and the territory, increasing economic growth and social cohesion, and making our health-care system more affordable and equitable.

Working with communities to implement their wellness plans will be a focus for the Department of Health and Social Services Division of Aboriginal Health and Community Wellness.

Building a strong and sustainable future for our territory can start by having a healthy population, Mr. Speaker.  Community wellness plans will provide a strong foundation for implementing government strategies that help support our residents and grow our economy.  This includes work like the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, Anti-Poverty Strategy, the Early Childhood Development Framework, and the Economic Opportunities Strategy. By working jointly with other GNWT Departments like Education, Culture and Employment and Justice, along with all of our other partners, we will achieve this goal.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.