Representative for Children and Youth calls Government of Nunavut response to report “entirely unacceptable”

“The proposed actions lack substance, commitment, collaboration and a sense of urgency”

Jane Bates, Nunavut’s representative for children and youth, answers questions from members of the standing committee on legislation during a hearing last November. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth’s Office is calling the Government of Nunavut’s proposed actions to address the mental health needs of young Nunavummiut “entirely unacceptable.”

The office, which reports to the legislature and is independent of the government, has a mandate to ensure that the Government of Nunavut supports and protects the rights and best interests of young Nunavummiut.

In May 2019, the office released a report titled “Our Minds Matter,” which offered a systemic review of the mental health services available to young people in the territory.

The office surveyed 475 individuals from across Nunavut, including 225 youth, to develop the report.

The report’s 15 recommendations include calls for the government to provide universal mental health programming in schools, college programs to build the capacity of Nunavut’s mental health workforce, and cultural competency training for mental health service providers.

It also calls for a facility in the territory that offers residential mental health treatment for children and youth, which currently does not exist in Nunavut.

The government and each department involved were asked to provide responses, including the steps they proposed to take to implement the recommendations, by Sept. 30, 2019.

A final response from the government was not received until nearly five months later.

“My office has exercised patience and persistence when departments did not respond to requests for feedback, missed numerous deadlines to provide responses,” said Jane Bates, the representative for children and youth, in a news release.

Bates said that in addition to missing deadlines, government responses provided inadequate and often changing information on the steps that departments were taking to implement the recommendations.

Upon reviewing the final government response, which was received on Feb. 28, 2020, the Representative for Children and Youth Office found that of the 15 recommendations made, the government agreed with six, partially agreed with five and disagreed with one.

For Bates’ office, the government’s response to three of the recommendations isn’t clear.

“I have given the departments’ responses consideration and find that the proposed actions lack substance, commitment, collaboration, and a sense of urgency that the mental health of young Nunavummiut deserve,” said Bates.

Of the recommendations, two were made to the Government of Nunavut as a whole, one to the Department of Community and Government Services and one to Nunavut Arctic College.

The remaining 11 involved either the Department of Health, the Department of Education or both.

In a statement to Nunatsiaq News, the Government of Nunavut defended its response to the report, saying that “since the report came out, GN departments have been in regular contact with the RCY and have provided detailed information on the ongoing work to address the report’s recommendations. The GN has balanced competing, urgent priorities over the past several months, and while there have been some delays in responding to the report and in subsequent communication with the RCY, we remain committed to finding solutions together.”

The full list of recommendations, along with their status, the government response and the commitments made, can be viewed below.

RCYO MentalHealthFollowUp M… by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Former Insider on

    Why do you think they replied with an unacceptable response?

    If people find the response unacceptable, they better start planning their campaign for seats in Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly.
    You don’t think the folks who provided the unacceptable response are going to change their mind, do you?

  2. Posted by Beryl Mason on

    Keep up the good work , Jane Bates!

  3. Posted by Shawn of the North on

    Here we go again where a government can’t agree on what is best for the children of our future. It took the government several months to respond to the findings and yet no clear action plan. Most other provinces and territories have defined action plans in place. No it did not happen over night, however it is happening.

  4. Posted by James on

    And who has been health minister over this for the last 7 years, but he is a good photo op totally no leadership.

  5. Posted by Cassandra on

    1. What’s needed is a funded, multi-year, territorial mental health strategy and action plan with measurable outcomes for services as required by everyone under 21. Don’t tell me other parts of the country don’t have this. Other parts don’t have our masses of losses of loved ones to suicide.
    2. It’s time to expose NAC. It has never been and will never be a viable producer of a qualified work force. It’s a complete disaster, and has been for as long as I can recall. It is where our bright, eager, hopeful young Inuit go to learn and earn qualifications and instead have their hopes quashed by a systemically incompetent institution that replicates injustice through poor leadership and poorer instruction. Then Inuit are blamed, again and again, for the callous, systemic ineptitude of institutions.

    • Posted by Many Layered Onion on

      You’re onto something, the College is definitely dysfunctional and definitely needs work. Having worked as an instructor though I can also say that teaching at the college level in Nunavut presents a serious challenge too. Many students, though not all, are really not prepared for College level of work; the reading, writing, critical thinking and learning habits are very often missing. You have framed this as if Inuit are being scapegoated and the system is aligned against you, I don’t think that’s a fair rendering of the situation, though it does have that nice social justice kind of ring to it. Now look at the Minster and ask yourself if this is the kind of leadership likely to lead us in that direction? Sadly, I doubt it. Unfortunately there are many layers to the issue.

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