Health Canada's Northern Region (NR) has responsibility for all Health Canada initiatives and activities involving the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
The Region acts as a "single window" - so that territorial governments, First Nations and Inuit organizations do not have to navigate multiple points of entry to access Health Canada. It also means federal departments whose operations touch upon health issues know who to turn to when engaging stakeholders in the North.
The NR plays an important role in providing the Northern context and perspective during the development of Health Canada policies and programs. The Region also helps to implement those policies and programs in the territories.
The NR does not deliver health care services. That responsibility was transferred to the territorial governments. Health Canada, does however, pay for the cost of non-insured health benefits such as medical transportation, drugs, dental, medical equipment and vision care for eligible First Nations and Inuit.
In terms of health promotion and prevention initiatives, the NR works closely with community groups, and Aboriginal and territorial government stakeholders to deliver programs. The NR works within Health Canada to adapt these national programs and initiatives to meet the particular needs of the North with its dispersed populations, high transportation costs, and other systemic challenges.
To put it simply, the NR is Health Canada's connection to the territories. And it is the territories' connection to Health Canada.
Health Canada's vision is to support the efforts of First Nations and Inuit people in attaining a level of health comparable to that of other Canadians. To this end, a number of programs are funded to battle inequalities in health and to prevent diseases.
The Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program is a national initiative that pays for some, or all, of the costs of medical transportation, medical supplies and equipment, dental care, vision care and pharmacy goods and services for eligible First Nations and Inuit who are not insured by the territories or through other third-party plans.
In the NWT and Nunavut, the NR delivers the NIHB Program through contribution agreements with the territorial governments. In the Yukon, service is managed directly by NR staff.
In the Yukon, in addition to covering insured dental costs from private practitioners, the NR operates a dental clinic out of its Whitehorse office.
The goal of First Nations and Inuit Health Programs is to provide efficient, effective and sustainable health programs and services that contribute to better health for Aboriginal people. Programs offered typically fall under the following priorities - mental health and addictions; children and youth; and chronic disease and injury prevention.
In Nunavut and the NWT, the NR works directly with territorial counterparts to negotiate contribution agreements for health programming. Each territorial government, in turn, administers funds to communities and organizations such as First Nations band councils, health authorities, Inuit associations, and voluntary and non-profit organizations.
Eleven of the Yukon's 14 First Nations are self-governing, and ten of these have assumed responsibility for the majority of their health promotion and illness prevention programs. The remaining First Nations receive funding through contribution agreements.
The Indian Residential Schools (IRS) Resolution Health Support Program is the primary Health Canada component of the Settlement Agreement with former residential school students. The program provides emotional health and wellness support to the former students and their families. The NR administers four core elements of the Health Support Program:
The program also involves helping communities deal with the impacts of claimants receiving large sums of money through the settlement process.
The Regional Director General (RDG) is Health Canada's senior representative in the Region and is responsible for all Health Canada activities in the three territories.
Representing the Region on the Department's senior management committees, the RDG provides high level policy and operational advice to the Minister of Health, the Deputy Minister, Associate Deputy Minister, and other senior officials. This includes timely and strategic intelligence on territorial health issues, federal/ territorial relations, and other emerging issues.
In addition, the RDG is central to federal/territorial and stakeholder relations.
The Northern Region is based in Ottawa with an office in Whitehorse to support programs in Yukon communities. Please contact us for further information.