This is page numbers 659 - 708 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was community.

Topics

Question 194-19(2): Agricultural Leases in the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 666

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Yes, that's part of it. We also have to understand that there is high demand for recreational leases, and that is part of the plan moving forward. We are working on it, and I will keep the Member informed as we move forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 194-19(2): Agricultural Leases in the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 666

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We know that mental health supports are not one-size-fits-all, so I am wondering how the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services authority educates Northerners about their mental health treatment options. Thank you.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Information available for our mental health supports and services can be found on our department's website. The department also uses social media, including the Northwest Territories Help Line Facebook page, which promotes health and mental well-being as well as service options. All Health and Social Services professionals can also refer individuals to mental health supports and services. We know that we need to do more and use more different approaches. The department's Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Action Plan commits to engaging with residents to ask them about how they want to receive information about mental health and addictions services and supports. The engagement is ongoing, and the results will be used to inform new approaches. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I hope that front-line staff will be part of developing that action plan. GNWT employees receive health through something called the Employee and Family Assistance Program. This program allows employees to access legal advice, financial advice, and it also allows them to access mental health support. I am wondering, given that this is something that is exclusive to GNWT employees or employers that have the funds and the means to supply their staff with this type of programming, does the Minister agree that the general public has a lower level of access to mental health supports in the Northwest Territories than GNWT employees?

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

We all agree that we need to do a better job in providing access to mental health services. It is a priority for this Assembly, and an issue that my department takes seriously, and we are currently working on.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I am happy to hear that. Will the Minister of Health and Social Services look into broadening their mental health support network to include private counsellors to reduce wait times and increase consistency of care for Northerners suffering from mental health challenges?

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Currently, at this time, our department is not looking at including private counsellors into the service delivery model. We had looked at it, and using private counsellors would be extremely expensive; for example, two, possibly three, times the cost for employing our own counsellors. Our approach to reducing wait times is the Seamless Care Pathway, that we are making sure people are matched with the right level of service to ensure more timely access. What I am aware of, in reading my briefings and meeting with staff, is that the wait times for counselling do not exist in most communities. Wait times are mainly an issue in Yellowknife and Hay River.

Wait times are tracked in communities where they exist and follow up with people on the wait list every three weeks to ensure that they still need the counselling and that their level of risk has not changed. I do want to expand that a main part of this work is to improve access to counselling by adding same-day walk-in appointments, as well as other options, like e-mental health access. These types of efforts have been shown to have dramatic impacts on wait times in other areas of the country. This work is underway as we speak and is on track to be implemented this spring 2020.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Kam Lake.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 666

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to think of how to reduce this to one question. I feel that I have acknowledged that the cost is high to work with private contractors, but when you have a high suicide rate like we do in the Northwest Territories, that cost is much higher. The risk of losing more youth to suicide in communities or in Yellowknife is, you can't put a number on that. I am thankful that the department is looking at it, but I feel that I disagree with the Minister here, that we do have wait times and having a child identify that they are suicidal and waiting three weeks to three months is not okay to receive mental healthcare. I'm wondering if the Minister will commit to working with NTHSSA to identify a responsive triage mechanism that allows us to see Northerners in a much quicker manner and would potentially review that process with collaboration from Members on this side of the House. Thank you.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 667

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Counselling requests are triaged based on risk. If a person is at a higher level of risk, for example, suicidal, they are not subject to the wait times and they are seen within a day or two. Our approach to reducing wait times in the Seamless Care Pathway, we are working to make sure that people are matched with the right level of service to ensure more timely access. The goal of this is to improve access to mental health services, but it's also focused on how we match people to their services. The Seamless Care Pathway approach is about offering the service that best meets the needs of the person. This program is overseen by the Department of Finance; oh, sorry. No. It's our department. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 195-19(2): Access to Child Mental Health Supports
Oral Questions

Page 667

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 196-19(2): COVID-19 Economic Cost and Support for Businesses
Oral Questions

March 12th, 2020

Page 667

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. These questions will be for the Deputy Premier. We know that COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic. We know that it's affecting the health of the people, and we know that there is going to be a cost to our healthcare system, but there is also a cost to the economy, as well. I'm wondering if this government has considered how it can support businesses during this period. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 196-19(2): COVID-19 Economic Cost and Support for Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 667

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Deputy Premier.