Lesa Semmler: Funding Opportunities for Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Programs

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Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to remind Members of the funding made available by the Department of Health and Social Services supporting the delivery of community-based programs focused on mental wellness and addiction recovery.

These funds were created in response to engagement with Indigenous governments in which they asked the GNWT to provide more flexible funding that could be used to run programs in their own communities and regions that would be responsive to the needs of Indigenous people.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the Department of Health and Social Services in our responsiveness to these needs, and I am pleased to share information about this available funding.

Every year, $3.05 million dollars is available through the Department of Health and Social Services’ Community Wellness and Addictions Recovery Fund. This fund prioritizes Indigenous governments, and supports the delivery of culturally relevant, community-based options for residents living with mental health and addictions issues. Created in 2023-2024, in response to feedback from the NWT Council of Leaders, it is the combination of the On the Land Healing Fund, Addictions Recovery Peer Support Fund, and Addictions Recovery and Aftercare Fund. The intention of this merger was to reduce the administrative burden on Indigenous governments, and to enhance flexibility when identifying priorities and allocating resources. This funding opportunity was opened to community governing authorities and other community organizations on April 1st.

The second fund the Department administers is the Community Suicide Prevention Fund. This fund supports communities in the development and delivery of culturally safe, community-based programs focused on suicide prevention, awareness, and stigma reduction.

It is also available to support communities interested in developing or implementing their own suicide prevention strategies. The amount of this fund is $725,000 annually, and one project per community can be approved. This fund is available to a wide variety of community organizations. 

There is a very simple application form for these funds, and Department staff are available to support communities through the application process, answer any questions, and provide feedback about potential activities if needed.

Indigenous governments are well-positioned to understand the unique needs of their communities, and community-based programming is a critical part of our overall mental wellness and addictions services. 

Mr. Speaker, funding is still available in both funding pots, and I am hopeful that communities will work with the department to take advantage of these opportunities to further enhance community supports.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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