Health Canada

Health Canada

January 16, 2008 15:31 ET

Minister Clement Announces Initiatives to Improve the Health of Inuit it the First-Ever Inuit Health Summit in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik

KUUJJUAQ, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Jan. 16, 2008) - The Honourable Tony Clement, Federal Minister of Health, today delivered remarks at the first-ever Inuit Health Summit held in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec, and announced new project initiatives that will improve the health of Canada's Inuit, as well as support for an Inuit-specific Mental Wellness Team, and an Office of Inuit Health.

"This summit marks an important step forward and holds much promise for future improvements in the health status of Inuit," said Minister Clement. "By working collaboratively with all jurisdictions and stakeholders, the Government of Canada is helping to improve the quality of life and promote a prosperous future for Inuit in Canada."

The Government of Canada is investing $9.7 million in funding for health projects that will help, either directly or indirectly, approximately 48,000 Inuit living in Canada. The funding includes:

- $7.6 million for eight Inuit-specific projects to improve health services for Inuit;

- $1.6 million will fund a pilot project to explore new approaches for collecting Inuit health information; consultations and data analysis and dissemination for the Inuit Health Survey; an Inuit meeting on environmental health; training for students engaged in health research; and

- $289,000 over three years for a Mental Wellness Promotion pilot project, funded under the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Minister also announced his support to establish an Inuit-specific Mental Wellness Team who can respond to the unique circumstances and culture of Inuit. The team will be a part of a new Strategic Action Plan which has been developed by Health Canada and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Task Group to address the mental wellness of First Nations and Inuit.

The Mental Health Commission, established by the Prime Minister of Canada in August 2007, will be a participant in this initiative: "The Mental Health Commission of Canada looks forward to working with Health Canada and its partners, including Inuit," said Michael Kirby, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "The Commission will help bring key elements of the First Nations and Inuit Strategic Action Plan to life, along with the establishment of an Inuit-specific mental wellness team."

The Minister also formally announced the establishment of an Office of Inuit Health within Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. With an initial budget of $240,000 this year, and $500,000 in 2008-2009, and $700,000 per year starting in 2009-2010, the Office of Inuit Health will help to raise the profile of Inuit health issues within the health portfolio and across all levels of government.

The establishment of the Office is an outcome of the Health Canada/Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Task Group, which was created in April 2007 by Minister Clement and ITK President, Mary Simon, to jointly explore and develop approaches for advancing Inuit health. Minister Clement and President Simon are pleased with the progress made by the Task Group and have agreed to meet, following the Summit, to discuss next steps.

"The Health Canada/Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Task Group has served to strengthen the relationship between ITK and the Government of Canada, and I am pleased with the work that has resulted from our collaboration with both Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada," said Mary Simon, President of ITK. "The participation of the Minister of Health in the Inuit Health Summit is testimony to the federal government's commitment to addressing Inuit health issues," added Mary Simon.

The summit, organized by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and co-chaired by the province of Quebec, provided a forum for the federal government, provinces, territories, and Inuit organizations and regions to discuss areas of collaboration on important Inuit health priorities and issues.

Health Canada news releases are available on the Internet at
www.healthcanada.gc.ca/media

The backgrounder is available at the following address: p://www.ccnmatthews.com/docs/hca0116.pdf

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