Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 21, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavut waits for news on federal mental health funding

Health Canada hasn't released details on how $69 million will be spent

SARAH ROGERS
NTI vice president James Eetoolook announces a one-year suicide prevention action plan from the Government of Nunavut and three other organizations this past March. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
NTI vice president James Eetoolook announces a one-year suicide prevention action plan from the Government of Nunavut and three other organizations this past March. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)

A week after the federal government announced funding to reinforce mental health supports in a number of Indigenous communities, it’s still unclear what sort of resources Nunavut stands to receive.

On June 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $69 million for communities in Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut to help them better cope with mental health needs and suicide crises.

The aid is targeted at communities that are located in rural, remote and isolated areas — essentially all of Nunavut — which are facing mental health and suicide crises. The funding is supposed to help fund crisis and mental wellness teams, and to help communities develop a more culturally-appropriate response to those crises.

But when asked what that will translate into for Nunavummiut, Health Canada said it did not have details on the breakdown of the investment.

“This investment is about immediate interventions that will strengthen access to needed mental health services for First Nations and Inuit,” Health Canada said in a June 20 response emailed to Nunatsiaq News.

“This includes specific investments for Nunavut which will support the work that the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated have already initiated to strengthen key mental health services.”

The federal department could be referring to a one-year, short-term suicide prevention plan announced by Nunavut organizations this past spring, which calls for a mobile trauma response team to provide counselling and healing in Inuit languages around the territory, along with the creation of seven new family resource workers.

But the Government of Nunavut’s department of health said it hasn’t received word on where the new money will be directed.

“While no specific information related to allocation of funding and how it will apply to Nunavut mental wellness programming has been made available, the Department of Health, with our Nunavut partners, is looking forward to working with Health Canada,” the department said in a June 20 statement.

Health Canada also indicated that there would be more funding set aside for Inuit mental health resources, pending the launch of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s suicide prevention strategy, which is expected to be released next month.

Though numerous reports out of Nunavik suggest that region is experiencing a high number of youth suicides this year, the federal funding announcement made no mention of money for northern Quebec.

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