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Inuit Describe Health Canada Cuts as Unconscionable

by NationTalk on April 17, 2012651 Views

Media Release

National Organization Health Budget Cut 40%

Tuesday April 17, 2012 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Inuit Leader Mary Simon reacted strongly to cuts from the federal budget in the department of Health Canada. The announced cutbacks to federal health spending will have major and direct negative impacts on Inuit.

“Inuit health statistics are several times higher than average Canadian data,” said Mary Simon. “Our suicide rate is 11 times higher. Tuberculosis rates are 174 times higher. Infant mortality rates are three times the national average. Inuit life expectancy is 15 years less than the average Canadian, and continues to widen. These shameful statistics speak for themselves.”The cuts to Health Canada will have an impact on ITK’s ability to effectively represent Inuit. ITK has been told that its funding will be cut by $1.5-million each year for the next two years. This represents a 40% cut to ITK’s Health budget.

“These cutbacks to ITK’s health capacity will severely reduce the ability of Inuit to participate, even in a modest way, in the development of policies and programs aimed at combatting enormous health challenges experienced so graphically in Inuit regions, communities and families,” said President Simon. “This is particularly unfortunate in light of the attention given by Canadian courts in recent years as to the duty of the Crown to consult closely with Aboriginal peoples and to seek to accommodate our Aboriginal rights and interests.”

“Health indicators are not going in the right direction for Inuit,” said Mary Simon. “We’ve identified mental health programs and services as being critically needed now for Inuit. Health Canada cuts of this magnitude, in addition to the closure of the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) may just make a terrible situation worse. How will Canada feel as host of the Arctic Council in 2013 when health statistics for Inuit are in decline rather than showing signs of improvement?”

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Contact: Stephen Hendrie, Director of Communications
Tel: 613.277.3178, hendrie@itk.ca

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