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Support for recovering addicts in the N.W.T. inadequate, says health minister

The territorial government is looking at ways to improve after-care for people struggling with addictions in the Northwest Territories.

Glen Abernethy says he's working on addictions recovery action plan, ways to improve services

Health Minister Glen Abernethy admits the territory isn't doing everything is can when it comes to people struggling with addictions in the territory. (CBC)

The N.W.T. government is looking at ways to improve after-care for people struggling with addictions in the territory. 

Health Minister Glen Abernethy discussed the issue in the Legislative Assembly Tuesday afternoon.

"I don't think we're necessarily doing everything we can or even enough for after-care," he said.

This was in response to questions from Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart about the government-run after-care program after he tabled a petition from Yellowknife resident Jennifer Lafferty, calling for better addictions recovery support in the territory.

Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart questioned the government-run after-care program after tabling a petition from a Yellowknife resident calling for better addictions recovery support in the territory. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Typically, people with addictions are sent to southern treatment centres.

"When somebody's coming back from a treatment facility they are required to have an after-care plan in their community," explained Abernethy.

"But clearly there are gaps that we need to close."

He said a government committee is currently working on an addictions recovery action plan.

According to Abernethy, the committee has made recommendations on how to improve the territory's services. He plans to go over them in the legislature this Friday.

He said one idea to improve services is possibly working with the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation.

The foundation recently opened an on-the-land healing camp in Yellowknife. Abernethy says it's hoping to run a similar program at Stanton Territorial Hospital's old location once the new hospital opens.

A crowd gathered in the bush behind the Fieldhouse in Yellowknife on April 24 for the opening celebration of the wellness camp. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

"They are intending to provide services for residents from the Northwest Territories that will help people be better prepared to take advantage of some of the addictions programs that we have in the Northwest Territories," he said.

He added he's very supportive of the idea, and his department is working with the foundation to make this a reality.

Abernethy also discussed the possibility of working with other on-the-land program providers and Indigenous governments to help people detox without medication.

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