North

Health minister criticized over cuts to healing program

Federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq faced criticism Tuesday over the federal government's recent funding cut to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation at a public meeting in Tuktoyaktuk.

Federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq faced criticism Tuesday over the federal government's recent funding cut to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation at a public meeting in Tuktoyaktuk.

Robert Gruben, chair of Tuktoyaktuk's Community Corporation, said people in the community wanted Aglukkaq to understand the consequences of government's decision to stop funding the foundation.

"Well I am glad that people showed a little bit of emotion because it is a touchy issue and if we don't let minister Leona know our feelings, then it's going to go unnoticed," said Gruben.

The federal budget didn't renew funding for the foundation, which, since its inception in 1998, has financed community-based First Nations programs that address abuse suffered in Canada's residential school system.

Funding for the foundation ended at the end of March.

Many aboriginal groups disapprove of the cuts, and have expressed concern over the people who have not yet healed from their residential school experience.

Aglukkaq said the federal government continues to provide support to individual residential school survivors.

"From the Health Canada side there has been funding to provide support to individual survivors and their families for mental health support," said Aglukkaq. "Those programs were not cut and in fact they continue and were renewed and are available to various organizations."

But many survivors are not happy that support will no longer be community-based.

Aglukkaq said she's instructed her regional offices to inform community organizations of the services still available through her department.

She is expected to make a multi-million dollar announcement about training in Inuvik while touring the Beaufort-Delta region this week.