Communiqué: Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council Meeting Held in Hay River

News Release

(Yellowknife - March 11, 2024) - The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council (the Council) held a meeting in Hay River from March 5th – 7th, 2024, including a full-day public meeting on March 6th.

The Leadership Council is the Board of Management for the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) and is comprised of a Chairperson and Regional Wellness Council Chairs (RWC) from across the Northwest Territories (NWT). Together, they work to provide focused and accountable solution-driven leadership that empowers the NTHSSA to improve patient and client care. The Council also provides advice to the Minister of Health and Social Services (HSS) on policy matters related to health and social services.

During the meeting, the Leadership Council heard from program experts and discussed topics of importance to the health and social services system, including:

  • Changes related to the Child and Youth Counselling Program, including a discussion on regional experience with accessing mental health supports for youth, and how the NTHSSA is working to support these changes.  
  • Concerns surrounding medical travel. There was a lengthy discussion about the importance of this issue in supporting access to essential healthcare and the cultural safety of residents, with additional emphasis on the experience of Elders. Clarity was provided to the public about ownership of the program (HSS program, administered by NTHSSA), as well as discussion about both operational improvement opportunities related to medical boarding homes, and proposed advice to be provided by the Council to the Minister of HSS on the Medical Travel policy.
  • Council members discussed initial work towards the GNWT’s Restoring Balance: Fiscal Sustainability Strategy and expressed a need to ensure health and social services functions are right-funded, while also ensuring the system continues to meet the needs of residents in all regions of the NWT.
  • Each Regional Wellness Council Chair reported on their recent Council activities with a focus on regional perspectives and priorities.  The Council advanced discussions on how to best support NTHSSA to build public understanding of these issues and/or ways to find solutions across all regions.  
  • An updated Ethics Framework for the health and social services system was approved.  
  • Leadership Council members discussed the importance of ensuring that GNWT programs align with the rights and benefits of Treaties 8 and 11 and the relationship they have with the Government of Canada, emphasising the importance of collaboration with Indigenous governments.
  • A presentation was delivered by HSS on program changes to the Extended Health Benefits Program. The Council identified this as a change that will require a renewed focus on communicating the impact of these changes to residents in advance of the September 2024 implementation date.


Discussion at the meeting included themes related to the challenges of substance use and abuse in communities, as well as the ongoing impacts of recent emergency events. The Council recognized that residents across the North have been faced with a very tough few years, and that the heath and social services system has, as a result, also been faced with several challenges. When the health system has challenges, NWT residents struggle and the Leadership Council is committed to doing their part to support and advance system improvements.

Enhancing services in the NWT health and social services system across the territory is important to all residents. Council members were pleased to see this represented in the priorities of the 20th Legislative Assembly and look forward to working with the Minister of HSS to contribute to the advancement of these goals. During the three-day meeting, the Council recommitted to actively work towards finding balance in their roles as advocates for their communities, advisors to the Minister of HSS, and provide effective operational governance to ensure the sustainability of the NTHSSA. They remain committed to their role in advancing the priorities of the health and social services system in a manner that ensures regional voice remains central to the governance of the NTHSSA.

The Council looks forward to enhancing their communication efforts and sharing more about the important work they do and progress on system enhancements with NWT residents in the months and years to come. The public can expect to see enhanced public awareness and education about Council work and opportunities for public input, through enhanced communications efforts. Residents are encouraged to participate in public meetings and/or speak with their regional chair if they have any issues, compliments or suggestions related to the health and social services system across the Northwest Territories.



“As the Board of Management for the NTHSSA, the Leadership Council is responsible for the Operational Plan and fiscal stewardship of the organization.  We take our role very seriously and our members are deeply connected to our communities. The Council recognizes the important role that health and social services play in the journey toward reconciliation and is committed to continued collaboration with Indigenous partners and residents to ensure the views and priorities of the regions are represented in our work.”

  • Mr. Gerry Cheezie, Chair, Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council


For more information on the governance structure of the NTHSSA, please visit: Governance | Health and Social Services Authority (

If you wish to be put on a distribution list for future releases or notices about meetings from the Leadership Council, contact and request to be put on the Leadership Council distribution list.


Media Information:

Gerry Cheezie, Chair of the Leadership Council will be available to speak to media about the Councils work. To coordinate an interview please contact:

NTHSSA Communications