Ottawa signs two agreements with GNWT to improve health care

The creation of a Territorial Addictions Medicine Team to increase coordination of treatments, and more culturally appropriate mental wellness and suicide prevention programming, were part of a $36 million health-care announcement today.

Through the Working Together Agreement, the Government of Canada will first provide more than $24 million to support the Northwest Territories’ three-year action plan to deliver improvements to its health care system.

Health Minister Lesa Semmler during announcement at NWT Legislature on Tuesday. (Image from livestream.)

Enhance culturally appropriate mental wellness and suicide prevention programming, including crisis response, will also be enhanced under the agreement.

Through the Aging with Dignity Agreement, Ottawa will provide more than $12 million to support the Northwest Territories’ five-year action plan to age with dignity close to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility.

NWT Health Minister Lesa Semmler said the announcement is “a significant investment in the health and well-being of NWT residents and communities.”

“We are reinforcing our dedication to sustainable, culturally respectful, and impactful health initiatives, she said at a media conference today, she said.

“These agreements will enable us to build upon existing efforts and address critical health care needs across our territory, helping to ensure that every resident receives the care they need, when they need it.”

Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, said both these agreements mean better care for residents and a stronger health care system.

“The Northwest Territories has unique needs, and these deals are important to deliver better care for the residents of Northwest Territories at every stage of their lives.”

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland. (Image from livestream.)

Under this plan, a new position called a Territorial Housekeeping Specialist will develop and implement policies and standardized training in long-term care facilities.

Recognizing the significant disparities in Indigenous health outcomes, the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories also commit to meaningfully engaging and working together with Indigenous partners to support improved access to quality and culturally appropriate health care services.

The Northwest Territories’ action plan is informed by continued engagement with its Indigenous partners and recent trilateral discussions involving the federal government. All levels of government will approach health decisions in their respective jurisdictions through a lens that promotes respect and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

The Northwest Territories is also set to receive an additional $100 million to support the higher cost of delivering health care in the territories, including medical travel, from the renewed $350 million (over 10 years) Territorial Health Investment Fund that was announced by the feds in Budget 2023.