Prevention gets priority in new health budget


The Department of Health and Social Services is the biggest spender in the Government of Nunavut, but minister Levinia Brown hopes to transform the department from “an economic drain to an economic driver,” by training more Nunavummiut for jobs and streamlining operations.

The department will take up 25 per cent of the Government of Nunavut’s total operations and maintenance budget for 2004-2005, and the standing committee on Health and Education is worried this won’t be enough.

Two new health centres in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay will create local jobs, while reducing some expensive out-of-territory medical travel. Both centres are to open this fall.

Telehealth is in 15 communities and funding is in place to add seven more to the network. Plans are underway to reach the remaining three communities.

The department hopes to save money, and learn more about where it is being spent or wasted, by creating a centralized medical travel coordination centre that would also make it easier for patients to arrange medical travel.

Prevention will also be a priority, said Brown. “Every day our lives in this territory are affected by suicide, poor nutrition and respiratory illness.”

“Through public health initiatives, we will be better able to prevent disease, promote health and prolong life.”

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