Quebec to launch new developmental screening program for young children

In Nunavik, the program will focus on screening for FASD

Quebec government officials and members of the legislature prepare to board their Air Inuit flight to Puvirnituq on July 29. From left: Lionel Carmant, assistant minister for health and social services; Sylvie d’Amours, minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs; Andrée Laforest, minister of municipal affairs and housing; and Denise Lamothe, MNA for Ungava. (Government of Québec photo)

By Sarah Rogers

A handful of Quebec government officials visited Nunavik earlier this week to announce funding for a new health intervention team to help screen for neurological disorders in Nunavik children.

Sylvie d’Amours, the minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs, Lionel Carmant, assistant minister for health and social services, Andrée Laforest, minister of municipal affairs and housing, and Ungava MNA Denis Lamothe were in Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq on July 29 and 30.

Ministers and MNAs are touring the province to promote the government’s Agir Tôt (Act Early) program, an initiative to screen for and diagnose development delays, physical and intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder in young children from birth to age five.

In Nunavik, the Quebec government has pledged to create an intervention team, which would be made up of a prosthetist-orthoptist, a speech therapist, a psycho-educator, a special educator and a nutritionist.

Both of Nunavik’s two hospitals, Tulattavik and Inuulitsivik health centres, will have access to the team of professionals via a web-based application, where parents fill out questionnaires to evaluate their child’s development.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said it’s “pleased with the increase in services for children and their families,” a spokesperson said in a July 31 email to Nunatsiaq News.

“Special attention will be deployed to increase the screening of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.”

The government has committed $48 million to deploy the province-wide initiative in 2019-20, with an annual contribution that’s set to increase to $88 million by 2024, the government said in a press release.

Quebec government statistics suggest that about 17 per cent of children and teens in the province live with some type of neuro-developmental disorder.

“Even in remote areas, it will be essential to provide services to all our children, right from the start,” said Lionel Carmant in a July 30 news release.

“With Agir Tôt, we have the means to positively influence the lives of our children and enable them to develop their full potential.”

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavik on

    Thank you, it is about time to focus on our future “Our children”

    There are a lot of children neglected due to alcoholism, there are many children mainly living in our streets for many good years, we need to stop, our children are suppose to be our priority not alcohol!

  2. Posted by Fas on

    Fetal alcohol syndrome is very high in Nunavik. 20 years ago, there was lots of concern that the manifestation of the fas will show its face in the near future , and there we have it. Just observe late teens and 20 year olds today, and see the results. Lots of the behavioural issues out there in Nunavik today is related to that alcohol use in mothers. It’s good that the government is implementing this program, but the bigger issue of a alcohol abuse will also have to be addressed. Another 20 years from this time, considering the mess at this present time, another 20 years and considerating survival rates from alcohol abuse, fas in Nunavik will be staggering.

  3. Posted by Vicki Aitaok on

    Would like to see this in Nunavut.

  4. Posted by Marion E James on

    This is good news. Different organizations have been asking for screening and support services for decades. Many of the youth who live with FASD become involved in the criminal justice system at an early age due to lack of impulse control and emotional regulation. Prevention is just one part of the piece. Adults living with FASD tend to have children themselves with the same disorder. They need help and support to break the cycle. New research shows that the father’s alcohol and drug use can also affect the health of the baby. Prevention of FAS is a family/community issue, not just a “mother’s issue.”

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