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Health minister wants money

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 28/05) - Health and Social Services Minister Michael Miltenberger is frustrated - but not surprised - a bonanza of federal health dollars announced in September has not made its way to the NWT or anywhere else.

Health and Social Services Minister Michael Miltenberger is frustrated new federal health funding has still not arrived.

Miltenberger says improvements on the NWT's health system can't start until the money gets here.

"It is frustrating," he says. "We'd like to get going and get working."

Millions of dollars in funding will eventually be coming North from three pots of money, he explains.

There is the Northern Health Transition Fund, which will divide $150 million over five years among the three territories; The NWT's portion of the Canada Health Transfer Agreement, amounting to $4.5 to $5 million a year for 10 years; and the national $700-million Aboriginal Health Fund.

None of the money is expected to come until June. "The federal government bureaucratic wheels grind long and fine," he says.

Miltenberger says money from the Northern Health Transition Fund and the Canada Health Transfer Agreement will go towards numerous areas.

That includes alcohol and drug programs, a mental health strategy, medical training, infrastructure upgrades, human resources, and long-term care.

The GNWT is working with aboriginal governments to help them access the Aboriginal Health Fund, which will be used on various projects, such as working with diabetics.