Minister Aglukkaq Welcomes International Circumpolar Health Experts to Canada

YELLOWKNIFE – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, yesterday welcomed more than 750 health professionals, researchers and indigenous representatives from across the world to the 14th International Congress on Circumpolar Health (ICCH-14) in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.”It is a privilege for Canada to host an international congress dedicated solely to the health and wellness of Northern peoples. We welcome all participants and look forward to sharing research and program successes related to circumpolar health,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Our Government recognizes the importance of the North. Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan and our Northern Strategy, we have taken significant steps towards helping this critical region flourish.”

The ICCH, which is held every three years, is the primary venue for sharing academic research and best practices on issues relating to circumpolar health. Participants, which include Canada, Greenland, Denmark, USA, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland, will study the challenges faced by circumpolar health professionals and the successes of northern-based health care.

Those living in the North face many unique health challenges. Obtaining health care can be difficult in isolated communities where there are few nurses and even fewer doctors. Pollution created by southern cities collects and settles in the North, contaminating the environment and also the animals that those in the North rely on for food. Climate change also has an impact on circumpolar health, as warming temperatures have a dramatic effect on the physical environment in which Northerners live.

The ICCH takes place at the conclusion of the current International Polar Year (IPY), a research initiative that occurs only twice a century. Research accomplished during the IPY (2007-2009), which focused on health and environmental issues in the circumpolar world, will be presented at the Congress and participants will focus on how to follow up on specific elements of this research. Canada was instrumental in ensuring that the current IPY studied the people of the North along with fish, ice and sea mammals in the region.

“Canada is committed to becoming a world leader in Northern and Arctic research,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “The work of this Congress will provide exciting challenges and opportunities for the new and upgraded Northern research facilities we are putting in place.”

Recent Government of Canada funding to support Northern research initiatives includes:

– $156 million to support Canadian participation in International Polar Year;
– $85 million over two years to maintain or upgrade key existing Arctic Research Facilities (Budget 2009); and,
– $2 million for a feasibility study for a proposed High Arctic research station (Budget 2009)

As part of Canada’s recent Economic Action Plan (Budget 2009), the Government of Canada is also investing $305 million over two years to improve social conditions and health outcomes for Northerners; $200 million over two years for the renovation and construction of new housing units in the North; $50 million over five years for the creation of a Northern development agency; $90 million over five years for the renewal of the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program; and $37.6 million to support initiatives related to the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project.


Media Enquiries:
Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

Josée Bellemare
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Public Enquiries:
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1-866 225-0709

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