Dept. of Health and Social Development

Vision Statement: The vision of the Department of Health and Social Development (DHSD) is to improve quality of life for Inuit, ensuring equal health outcomes between Inuit and other Canadians by supporting opportunities for Inuit to participate in and influence national (federal) policy and program design, development, delivery and evaluation.

Public Health: ITK’s public health mandate is to develop public health policy and participate in public health initiatives that foster, promote and protect the health of Inuit. Specific areas of focus in public health include tobacco usage, cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, chronic disease, and pandemic planning.

Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB): ITK works to ensure that non-insured health benefits for Inuit are enhanced and sustained and, to this end, participates and/or leads a variety of committees including the Inuit Specific Technical Working Group, the Joint NIHB working Group, and the National Dental Advisory Committee.

Health Human Resources: ITK works with Inuit from all 4 Inuit regions to improve the health human resources in Canada’s Arctic through the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative. Projects to date have lead to increased awareness of health careers for Inuit children and youth, and provided support to students through high school and university and scholarships for students who are attending health programs at university.

Food Security: One of ITK’s major concerns is the lack of Inuit access to safe and nutritious food including not only food available in grocery stores, but country foods as well. ITK is developing a national strategy to help improve this situation with the aim of ensuring all Inuit have access to foods that allow them to lead healthy, long lives.

Mental Wellness: ITK works to bring together key organizations working on Inuit mental wellness to facilitate collaboration and information sharing as well as provides Inuit specific recommendations for the development and implementation of an Inuit specific mental wellness action plan. ITK also provides strategic advice regarding on-going mental wellness program development and assesses evaluation results.

Addictions: ITK is working with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse on a “National Alcohol Strategy”, a “Youth Substance Abuse Prevention” strategy, a “Competencies for Canada’s Substance Abuse Workforce” strategy, and “National Treatment Strategy” where ITK is a co-chair. Priorities center on taking traditional and cultural approaches, recognize the role communities have in indentifying issues and healing, to build strong partnerships and to that ensure Inuit-specific data, research, information, knowledge and training is available.

eHealth: ITK is focusing on three eHealth priorities. Telehealth (healthcare services over the telephone), Electronic Health Records, and “Panorama”, a national data base of information on illnesses such as tuberculosis or the flu that quickly informs healthcare professional of outbreaks.

Health Services Integration Fund: ITK’s work on the Aboriginal Health Transition fund is to support and facilitate the close collaboration of regional and national Inuit organizations working on projects that are aimed at improving Inuit access to, or gathering information necessary to improving, health policy development, programs and services to make them more relevant and responsive to Inuit culture, needs and circumstances.

Youth Suicide Prevention: ITK works with NICoH, Alianait, the National Inuit Youth Council, Health Canada and other partners to identify, define, promote and raise awareness of Inuit specific approaches to reduce this unacceptable rate throughout Inuit Nunangat.

Inuit Early Childhood Development (ECD): Working with the Inuit Early Childhood Development Working Group ITK develops strategies to inform leaders, influence government policies, and work collectively to ensure Inuit children have access to quality, appropriate, and reliable ECD services.

Maternal Child Health (MCH): ITK’s role in Inuit maternal child health includes working with regional and national Inuit organizations to advocate to the government and national organizations for improved policies, programs and services for health of Inuit women and children across Inuit Nunangat in the areas of prenatal nutrition, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Inuit midwifery and birthing centres closer to home, infant mortality, oral health, respiratory health, health promotion and prevention, breastfeeding, food security and the social determinants of health.

National Inuit Youth Council (NIYC): The ITK Youth Project Coordinator serves as NIYC Treasurer and coordinates NIYC activities related to employment and training, skills upgrade, and other various opportunities.

Education and life-long learning: ITK is leading the initiative in developing the National Strategy on Inuit Education and collaborates with various stakeholders in the field of education to voice the concerns and hopes of Inuit education professionals at the national level;

Inuit Human Resource Development: DH&SD serves as a policy and program liaison in developing and delivering Inuit human resource development policies and programs under the Aboriginal human resource development initiatives of Human Resource Skills Development Canada(HRSDC); DH&SD coordinates activities of the Inuit National Technical Committee on Human Resource Development.

National Economic Development Committee for Inuit Nunangat: DH&SD represents ITK in committee meetings, giving input when appropriate.

National Committee on Inuit Education: DH&SD represents ITK in committee meetings, giving input when appropriate.