N.W.T. proposes single health superboard, regional councils

The Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services is once again looking at creating a single health superboard, and cutting some of the power of the eight health authorities.

Regional boards would become regional wellness councils, with an advisory role only

Debbie Delancey on NWT health boards 3:52

The Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services is once again looking at creating a health superboard, and cutting some of the power of the eight health authorities.

Health Minister Glen Abernethy released a discussion paper on the issue this morning, saying he’s looking for feedback from residents.

The current system has six regional Health and Social Services Authorities, one regional community services agency, and one territorial hospital authority.

In recent years, four of those boards have been taken over by the territorial government, including the Stanton Territorial Health Authority and the regional health authorities for Hay River, the Beaufort Delta and the Deh Cho.

“This fragmented structure makes it difficult for the Minister to deliver on his mandate to ‘promote, protect and provide for the health and well-being of the people of the Northwest Territories,’” the discussion paper reads.

The paper also says that regional health boards mean the standards of care are different throughout the territory, while residents don’t get a say in health policy, which remains under the control of the Health department.

The department is proposing one integrated one board responsible for delivering health and social services across the territory, with aboriginal governments participating as they see fit.

The current regional health authorities would be stripped of much of their authority and would become regional wellness councils, which would only have an advisory role.

Chairs of these councils would sit on the territorial health board, so “every region in the N.W.T. will gain a voice in the design and delivery of territorial programs and services.”

The department says having one authority will make it easier for regions to share health records and staff, something it says was difficult in the past.

The proposed plan says services and administration will be streamlined, but it doesn't say whether any jobs will be lost.

The department says it's looking for feedback on the plan. Comments can be made up until September 30.

A proposal to amalgamate health education and school board was shot down in 2008.

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