Health Canada reduces funding to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

"I really fail to see the logic," says Mary Simon, president of ITK, of the 40 per cent cut to its budget for health programs and research.

ITK's budget for health programs and research cut by 40 per cent

Health Canada has cut Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami's budget for health programs and research by 40 per cent.

In total, ITK will lose $1.5 million a year for the next two years. This follows cuts to similar groups such as Pauktutiit Inuit Women of Canada who are involved with Inuit health policy and research, and the Native Women’s Association of Canada, which ran HIV awareness and diabetes prevention programs.

Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, seen here in Ottawa in 2010, says she doesn't see the logic behind Health Canada's cuts to national aboriginal organizations that provide health-related programs. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

"I really fail to see the logic," said Mary Simon, president of ITK.

"The government is saying aboriginal people are a priority for this country, but you take away the tools for the national organizations to do their work?"

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said her priority is to protect primary health care.

"Those organizations do not deliver frontline health care services," she said.

Aglukkaq said it’s the provinces and territories that handle health care services and transfer payments to them have not been cut.

But Simon said cuts to ITK's work on tuberculosis, diabetes and suicide will have a negative effect on Inuit health.

"It's the service itself that we provide the communities to make informed choices that's going to be hard hit."

Simon said her group does work that overstretched health centres just can't take on.