Ng: No GNWT family planning program this year

Contrary to a report aired January 16 on CBC North, the GNWT has no plans to launch a family planning campaign this year.


IQALUIT ­ Health Minister Kelvin Ng is less than pleased with CBC North.

That’s because CBC’s Yellowknife radio station reported several times on January 16 that the GNWT’s 1998-99 budget will “include funds for a family planning campaign.”

The problem, Ng says, is that no such funds exist.

“The Department of Health and Social Services was caught completely off guard, and officials placed in a position of defending a program that does not exist,” Ng told MLAs last week.

“Mr. Speaker, in my opinion the reporter’s actions on this story were irresponsible and consequences of his actions have been far reaching and harmful. I have personally suffered from being misrepresented on the eve of the finance minister’s budget address.”

Ng explained that a CBC reporter had interviewed him in November of 1997 in connection a story on the NWT’s population explosion.

Ng said the reporter asked him if the GNWT had any plans to help regional health boards run family planning publicity campaigns.

“I responded by referring to the strategic investment fund Cabinet had approved and the department was planning to establish, targeted at positioning health boards to develop health promotion initiatives and programs.”

But Ng said he never stated to anyone that the GNWT will include a family planning campaign in its recent budget.

“The story on January 16th used these comments and placed them in an improper context… I was not in Yellowknife on January 16, nor was I contacted by the reporter to update or comment on this issue.”

Ng suggested that it may take some time to correct the erroneous information in CBC’s January 16 story.

“Members of this House have been misled about the plans and activities of our government, and the public has been left with the perception we have some solution to the rapid population growth,” Ng said.

Another statement soon on family planning

This Monday, however, in response to a question from Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco, Ng said he’ll soon make a statement on family planning.

“[I] have already directed the department to put together a member’s statement in respect to the birth rate issue and the family planning initiatives this government has undertaken,” Ng said. “That statement, unfortunately, is not ready yet.”

Earlier that day, Picco had urged the GNWT to start a family planning campaign, referring to the well-known fact that government revenues are not keeping up with a rapid growth in population.

“Most people are being born to younger mothers and this has increased pressure on the social envelope,” Picco said.

The government should implement a territorial-wide family planning awareness campaign, and provide extra resources to communities and boards of health to address this need.”

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