Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to use my Member’s statement today to draw attention to what I think may be a gap in our social safety net here in the Northwest Territories.
We probably have a disproportionately high rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Northwest Territories. I think there need to be options that are made available to young women who are pregnant. Certainly, there is the legal option of having an abortion, but for those young women who wish to carry a pregnancy to term and who wish to give birth to a healthy child but find themselves in situations where they may be at risk and there are social pressures on them for either alcohol or substance abuse, I think we have a duty to provide them with an option.
Rather than building an institution around this need, I believe there could be caring homes and families in our territory and our communities that would provide a home for a young woman, to create a supportive caring environment. This would be something that would be available on a referral basis for a young woman who would choose such an option. During that time it would, in a healthy home, remove some of the social pressures on that young person and also provide a wonderful opportunity for the transfer of some knowledge and some guidance.
I view this as a potential gap in our social safety network. I believe that when we consider the costs, both monetary and human, the cost is in lives that would often be supported by this government by institutional or supported living for children and adults going forward in life who are affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. When we compare the cost of that support to what it might cost to provide what really is the equivalent of room and board on maybe a foster family type model…. When you consider those costs, both the human and monetary costs, I think that we the government could do more and should do something.
Like I said, I’m not talking about building an institution around this, and I’m not talking about exorbitant costs, but I believe we need to create options for young women who are pregnant and at risk. I’ll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services later today.