The Government of Canada and Northwest Territories Reach Agreement in Principle to Improve Health Services for Canadians

News release

July 6, 2023 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

Canada’s universal, accessible and publicly funded healthcare is a point of pride for Canadians. However, health workers across Canada are under enormous strain to deliver the care that Canadian patients deserve. Immediate, collaborative, action is needed to deliver better health care for Canadians.

On February 7, 2023, the Government of Canada announced an investment of close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories to improve health care services for Canadians. This funding includes an immediate, unconditional $2 billion Canada Health Transfer (CHT) top-up to address immediate pressures on the health care system. The federal government also announced $350 million over 10 years for the Territorial Health Investment Fund in recognition of the cost of delivering health care, which includes $100 million for Northwest Territories.

Today, the Government of Canada and the Government of Northwest Territories are taking the next step by announcing an agreement in principle for a shared plan that will invest $361 million in federal funding over 10 years in Northwest Territories, including $73 million for a new bilateral agreement focusing on shared health priorities. This investment also includes $150 million in CHT growth since 2022-2023, a guaranteed 5 per cent growth to the CHT for the next five years (expected additional value of $20 million over 10 years), and $2 million through an immediate one-time CHT top-up to address urgent needs. This will further help the Northwest Territories in its ongoing work to:

  • improve access to high-quality family health services when they need them, including in rural and remote areas, and for underserved communities;
  • ensure a resilient and supported health workforce that provides residents with high-quality, effective, and safe health care services;
  • provide access to timely, equitable, and quality mental health, substance use and addictions services; and
  • establish the capacity for residents to access to their own electronic health information that is shared between the health professionals they consult.

Helping Canadians age with dignity, closer to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility is another shared health priority where collaborative work is already underway.

By reaching an agreement in principle, Canada and Northwest Territories are committing to the plan laid out on February 7, 2023, and in Budget 2023, which includes shared commitments to collect, use and share depersonalized health information and to inform Canadians of their progress with key common headline indicators. Work will now begin on a bilateral agreement based on an initial 3-year action plan that will detail targets, timelines and additional common indicators related to shared health priorities in each jurisdiction.

As part of this collaborative health plan, Northwest Territories will support Canada’s work to streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals and advance labour mobility for key health professionals. Furthermore, Northwest Territories commits to an integrated, inclusive approach to investments in family health teams, health workers, and data and digital tools that will help to meet the health and mental health needs of Canadians.

We will fulfill our shared responsibility to uphold the Canada Health Act that protects Canadians' access to health care that is based on need and not ability to pay. We recognize the right of Indigenous Peoples to fair and equitable access to quality and culturally safe health services free from racism and discrimination anywhere in Canada.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we showed that we can work together to tackle big challenges. We will work to deliver outcomes for Canadians and improve the health care system that Canadians value and depend on.


“Today’s agreement in principle with Northwest Territories is an opportunity to continue our collaboration and improve the experience of health workers and the health of those they care for. It will modernize our health care system, expand access to family health services and mental health services, support health workers, and reduce surgical backlogs. Better quality of care means helping Northwest Territories residents and Canadians live longer, healthier lives.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Today’s agreement in principle with Northwest Territories builds on our shared objective of ensuring all Canadians, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay, can access the care they need, when they need it. Our government will continue to work with our partners across the country to build a better health care system.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

“Mental health is health, and through this agreement in principle, we will be working with Northwest Territories to integrate mental health and substance use care as a full and equal part of our universal health care system. This agreement will help to provide greater access to mental health services, reduce substance use harms, and lower stigma. Together, we must ensure that all Canadians have access to supports and services for their mental health and well-being – when they need them, wherever they need them.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health

“The commitment to health care in the Northwest Territories is crucial for addressing the unique challenges faced by all residents. Through this agreement in principle, we are working towards a more sustainable health care system and ensuring that all residents have equal opportunities for support and well-being, regardless of their location.”

The Honourable Julie Green
Northwest Territories Minister of Health and Social Services

Associated links


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

Maja Staka
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health,

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Health Canada

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