Julie Green: Addictions Prevention and Recovery Work Plan
February 27, 2023
Mr. Speaker, addictions continue to be a serious issue in the NWT. Many residents have experienced the grip of addictions at some point in their lifetime, while many others have watched family or friends battle drug or alcohol dependencies. The GNWT is committed to making sure that residents have access to the right combination of culturally safe supports and services when and where they need it. This is why the 19th Legislative Assembly made it a mandate priority to increase the number and variety of culturally respectful, community-based mental health and addictions programs, including aftercare.
To ensure that the actions we are taking best meet the needs of the people we serve, we regularly conduct internal and external audits to make sure that we are measuring up to our own standards and priorities. This is why we welcome the 2022 findings of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s audit of addictions prevention and recovery services for the period of August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2021. The findings from the audit help us understand where our programs are on track and where we need to improve outcomes for residents experiencing addictions.
Mr. Speaker, we accepted all seven recommendations by the Office of the Auditor General. The audit speaks to the importance of aftercare, cultural safety, access to services, coordination of services, and client outcomes. Later today, I will be tabling the Addictions Prevention and Recovery Services Work Plan that sets out concrete actions that we will be taking in response to the audit.
The work plan identifies five areas of improvement to address the seven recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General. These include an increasing our understanding of residents’ self-determined mental wellness and addictions recovery needs to inform program planning and priority setting; enhancing partnerships with Indigenous governments and communities to ensure a continuum of services that better meets the addictions needs of residents; improving access to culturally safe addiction prevention and recovery services; increasing consistency in coordination of addictions services and aftercare; and enhancing the ability to track community-identified and service user-identified outcomes.
Mr. Speaker, many initiatives were already implemented or work was underway during the time the audit was taking place. Examples include the establishment of the Cultural Safety and Anti-Racism unit that will ensure cultural safety is represented in all policies, programs, and documents.
Another is the transformation of the addictions and recovery services system by ensuring residents and their families have access to the right level of care when and where they need it. This model of care uses a recovery-oriented approach to provide same day access to flexible mental wellness and addictions recovery services. The Community Counselling Program eliminated wait lists for counselling services.
Other examples of work aligned with the audit recommendations include the establishment of an Indigenous Advisory Body; establishment of the Peer Support and Addictions Recovery and Aftercare Funds; development of a territorial approach to Managed Alcohol; establishment of the Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Advisory Group; and the creation of Indigenous Patient Advocate positions and an Office of Client Experience. Work is also underway to develop a territorial model for medical detox and the establishment of transitional housing for addiction recovery.
Mr. Speaker, we will be working closely with Indigenous and community partners, as well as health and social services advisory bodies to refine and implement approaches to advance change in the addictions and recovery services system.
Mr. Speaker, I understand the devastating impacts addictions have on families and communities across this territory. The work plan outlines how and what we will be doing to provide safe and effective services as well as meaningful tools to help struggling families and individuals.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.