Territorial Premiers Welcome Extension of Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI)


Canada’s Northern Premiers are welcoming today’s announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI) funding until March 31, 2014.

Northern Premiers acknowledged the Prime Minister’s ongoing commitment to addressing the unique challenges of the North – noting that the extension of THSSI funding reflects the recognition that Canada’s territorial governments face added costs and challenges in the delivery of all programs and services – and especially in the areas of health care.THSSI funding will provide $30 million per year divided among the three territories to undertake health system innovation and management, participate in pan-territorial health initiatives, and offset medical transportation expenses.

“Investments in the long term well being of our population contribute to the sustainability of our communities and our territories. Through them we are strengthening our North and contributing to a stronger Canada,” NWT Premier Floyd Roland said.

“Working collaboratively, our governments have proven that northerners can receive the same high quality health care as the rest of Canada. The Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative helps to achieve this standard by offsetting the high cost of medical travel, and building capacity at the community level to reduce long-term reliance on the health care system,” Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak said.

“Improved access to health care for the citizens of all three territories is the result of northern premiers working together with Canada on a common set of principles. Economic and social development across the North relies on a foundation of healthy people, healthy communities, and an adequate health service network and infrastructure,” Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski said.

Northern Premiers made special note of the work completed by territorial health ministers to advance the renewal of this funding, and thanked federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq for her support in promoting their request.

Premiers also recognized the support of Western Premiers and the Council of the Federation for the extension of the THSSI funding, which has achieved demonstrated success in developing new and innovative long-term approaches to territorial health planning and in building on the cooperative relationship between territorial and federal health departments.

For more information, contact:

Drew Williams
Office of the Press Secretary
Premier and Executive Council
Government of Northwest Territories
(867) 669-2304

Elaine Schiman
Cabinet Communications
Government of Yukon

Emily Woods
Press Secretary
Office of Premier Eva Aariak
Government of Nunavut
(867) 975-5059


Territorial Premiers Welcome Extension of Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI)

In 2005, the federal government provided the three territories with a five-year $150 million targeted fund. The Territorial Health Systems Sustainability Initiative (THSSI) was designed to facilitate the transformation of territorial health systems to ensure greater responsiveness to the needs of northerners and improve community-level access to services. In 2010, the federal government extended THSSI supplementary funding by $60 million over two years to consolidate progress made.

The three broad goals of the THSSI funding are to:

o reduce the reliance over time on the health care system;
o strengthen community-level services; and
o build self-reliant capacity to provide services in-territory.

Today’s formal extension of THSSI funding to March 31, 2014 is comprised of $60 million to be shared among the three territories over the next two years.

There are three components to this funding:

1. The Territorial Health Access Fund (total $13 million per year) intended to reduce reliance on the health care system, strengthen community level services and build capacity to provide services in-territory.

2. The Medical Travel Fund (total $15 million per year) intended to offset expenses for medical transportation.

3. An Operational Secretariat Fund (total $2 million per year) intended to fund pan-territorial projects, support the functioning of a federal/territorial Health Assistant Deputy Ministers Working group and provide resources to manage THSSI commitments.

Territorial Health Access Fund

Through its Territorial Health Access Fund, THSSI has provided funding for the following regional initiatives since its inception:
o Training for Community Health Representatives to better address prevention and health promotion
o A full-time pediatrician to provide expert direction for the care of sick children
o Expansion of midwifery services and education program to another regional centre
o Additional physicians to reduce out-of-territory travel and to provide better quality health care within Nunavut
o Orientation program for nursing graduates to facilitate the transition of nursing knowledge and skills to from expert nurses to novice nurses
o Mental Health Worker integration for new graduates into employment opportunities

Northwest Territories
o Additional Nurse Practitioners and Community Health Nurses to improve patient access in remote communities;
o Initial development of a Territorial Chronic Disease Management Strategy to help reduce the severity and incidence of chronic diseases like diabetes, mental health, heart disease and cancers;
o Extension of the dialysis program at Stanton Territorial Hospital to six days a week;
o A review of the capacity of the Health and Social Services Authorities to implement a territory-wide endoscopy management system;
o Anti-smoking campaign targeting youth 8-14 years old;
o Consideration of policy and service delivery options for midwifery practices outside of hospital/health centre parameters.

o the chronic conditions support program which is a collaborative care model that suits the Yukon context;

o nurse mentorship and other activities to support health human resource recruitment and retention;
o the Yukon health line which provide 24/7 access to health information and advice across Yukon;
o a palliative care team that supports service providers and individuals wherever they reside;
o mental health care, including enhanced services in the rural communities; and
o telehealth, which is now available in all Yukon communities.

Operational Secretariat Fund

THSSI supports pan-territorial initiatives that will have a significant impact on northern health care including a Medical Travel Review, the Social Marketing Pan-Territorial Project, and the Mental Health First Aid Project.

o A review of the medical travel system is being undertaken on medical travel programs, best practices and technologies in order to improve clinical care pathways and find efficiencies in medical travel practices.
o The Government of Yukon is leading a social marketing project with activities in all three territories.
o The NWT is leading a project to adapt the Mental Health First Aid course for use with a northern population. The project involves revising and adapting the curriculum and piloting it in communities in each of the three territories.

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