Prime Minister Harper announces New Healthcare Funding for Territories
August 26, 2021

Extends Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative for further two years

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced significant support to improve local healthcare for Northern families by extending the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI).  He was joined by Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Floyd K. Roland, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Eva Aariak, Premier of Nunavut and Darrell Pasloski, Premier of Yukon.

“The North’s greatest resource is the people who live and work here. The support being announced today is yet another concrete way that our Government is improving the health of Northerners,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “This is about working with the territories to ensure Northern families can get the medical attention they need near their homes thereby reducing the costs, time and travel of being treated further south.”

Northerners face unique healthcare challenges related to population, distance, availability of medical professionals and costly medical equipment, and higher rates of certain diseases.

The two-year extension of the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative will provide territorial governments with valuable resources to continue health system reforms, participate in pan-territorial health initiatives and offset medical transportation expenses.  More specifically, territorial governments will be able to explore innovative solutions to address service delivery gaps, balance prevention and promotion activities with clinical service delivery and identify evolving needs and responsive strategies to address them.

The Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative is overseen by a Federal/Territorial Working Group made up of Assistant Deputy Ministers from Health Canada and each of the three territories’ Departments of Health and Social Services.


Stanton Territorial Hospital

The first Stanton Territorial Hospital was built in the 1940s. In 1984, the Federal government contributed more than $14.7 million over four years towards the construction of the current hospital building, which opened in 1988.

Stanton Territorial Hospital is currently a 100-bed acute care facility employing 507 staff.  It is the largest accredited facility in the territories serving as the main health care facility for about 45,000 residents of the Northwest Territorires and western Nunavut. It provides interpretation services in all 11 official languages of the Northwest Territories.

Stanton Territorial Hospital is operated by the Stanton Territorial Health Authority, which also has four patient clinics in the Yellowknife area. In addition to providing general surgery, gynecology, oncology, orthopedaedics, pediatrics, urology and fertility treatments, the Stanton Medical Clinic and the Stanton Medical Centre also provide services such as audiology, speech-language pathology and ear, nose and throat care, dermatology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and diabetes education.  A separate clinic in Yellowknife has a Mental Health Clinic, and also provides ophthalmology treatments.
Family physicians and local and visiting specialists offer a wide array of medical specializations through the hospital. Stanton Territorial Hospital also arranges travelling clinics and utilizes telemedicine to provide services, as well as health promotion programs, to communities across the Northwest Territories.



The Government is committed to helping ensure that the North has safe, healthy and prosperous communities.

In keeping with this objective, in 2005 the Government provided the territories with a five-year, $150-million targeted fund, the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI), to facilitate the transformation of territorial health systems toward greater responsiveness to Northerners’ needs and improved community-level access to services. Budget 2010 extended the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative funding by $60 million over two years, to consolidate the progress made in the first five years of the Initiative. 

In 2011 the Government announced that the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative funding is being further extended by $60 million over a period of two years (2012-2014). Funds being allocated for this period will support time-limited initiatives in key health system reform areas, including:

• Developing mental health and chronic disease management strategies;
• Addressing human resource gaps in the health field;
• Strengthening system performance measurement, monitoring and reporting; and,
• Implementing strategies to realize further efficiencies in medical transportation systems.

How the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative works

The Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative provides territorial governments with the opportunity to explore innovative solutions to service delivery gaps resulting in changes to their respective health care delivery systems.  Additionally, it enables each territory to balance prevention and promotion activities with clinical service delivery, and it serves as a catalyst for territories to identify and consider evolving needs and develop responsive strategies.

The Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative funds are administered through agreements with the territorial governments and subdivided into three components:

1.     Medical Travel Fund - to offset or help pay for expenses related to or incurred in the course of providing or paying for medical transportation.
2.     Territorial Health Access Fund intended to:

  • reduce reliance over time on the health care system;
  • strengthen community level services; and,
  • build self-reliant capacity to provide services in-territory
  • Operational Secretariat Fund intended to:
  • support the functioning of a Federal/Territorial Assistant Deputy Minister Working Group to guide the implementation of the initiative;
  • fund several Pan-Territorial projects; and,
  • provide Territorial governments with capacity to manage THSSI commitments.


Since it was established, the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative has enabled Territorial Governments to:

Generate momentum on critical health initiatives:
  • Expand midwifery and mental health services (Nunavut)
  • Develop social inclusion and wellness strategies (Yukon)
  • Enhance nurse practitioner and community nursing services (NWT)

Conclude some projects and launch time-limited initiatives:
  • Implement an electronic tracking system for medical travel and boarding homes (Nunavut)
  • Develop health risk management and quality assurance policies (Yukon)
  • Implement Foundation for Change, a health system reform strategy (NWT)

Collaborate on projects to address common health priorities:
  • Medical travel program review
  • Healthy choice and mental health prevention/promotion strategy
  • Oral health initiative