Withdrawal from health partnership hurts northern Canadians: Hughes

Ottawa – Canadians in northern communities will be further isolated and marginalized now that the Conservative government has withdrawn Canada from the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS), says Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP, Carol Hughes.

Hughes questioned the wisdom of the government’s decision in the House of Commons, Monday.  The MP sees the move as one that will isolate Canada and feels the government is trying to distance itself from international efforts that show where there is work to be done in the north.

“We saw the government dismiss the findings of the UN food rapporteur,” said Hughes. “This latest move shows the government isn’t interested in cooperating with other governments on the important and unique health challenges our northern communities face.”

Hughes’ says that Canada’s withdrawal from the NDPHS means that northern Canadians will no longer benefit from this important source of information and cooperation despite the unique and significant challenges those communities face.

“Conservatives deny residents of northern Canada an important resource in the fight against the spread of tuberculosis, dependence on alcohol and drugs, the high rate of diabetes, and malnutrition,” said Hughes. “Why are Conservatives refusing to cooperate with other governments so that we can jointly tackle the serious health challenges that are faced by our northern communities in health?”

The NDPHS is a forum for the study and promotion of healthy living and social well-being in Northern communities. It is a political initiative of the EU, Iceland, Norway, and Russia, along with multilateral partners such as the World Bank and the Arctic Council. Canada and the US have observer status. Canada’s withdrawal from the health and social well-being program comes as Northern Dimension tries to promote sustainable development by improving peoples’ health and social well-being.