N.W.T., Canada announce $1M over 5 years to curb substance abuse

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The Northwest Territories and federal governments have announced $1 million in new funding aimed at curbing substance abuse.

The funding, allocated to the territorial government will be spent over five years on engagement sessions to develop public awareness campaigns in collaboration with Indigenous governments and NGOs.

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing substance abuse," reads a quote attributed to N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green in a release sent Monday morning.

"It is only by working with Indigenous governments and communities on a coordinated approach to take action on alcohol and substance misuse that we will be able to see progress on addressing this serious public health issue."

The release highlights the findings of the 2018 N.W.T. addictions survey, which showed that nearly half of men in the territory and four in 10 women reported heavy drinking in the past month, significantly higher than elsewhere in the country.

In 2017, the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse and Addictions estimated the per person cost of addiction in the N.W.T. to be more than $2,300 per year. And last year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that youth in the N.W.T. were more likely to be hospitalized due to substance abuse than anywhere else in the country.

The new funding comes from the Northern Wellness Agreement, which provides additional health funding to territorial governments on an annual basis.

The work of the engagement sessions will be led by the Territorial Committee on Problematic Substance Use, which includes representatives from the territorial government, the NWT Association of Communities and members of the public.