Autism Society NWT
5204 54th Street
Yellowknife, NT X1A 1W8

867.446.0985

president@nwtautismsociety.org

Important Campaign Update

Please read this important update that highlights new information from the Department of Health and Social Services 

and learn how our organization is continuing to advocate for changes that ensure that access to supplementary health insurance is not dependent on a person's diagnosis or income level.

Justice for Extended Health Benefits

The Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program is operated by the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services. This program provides comprehensive supplementary health coverage of medical travel, medical equipment, medical devices, and prescription drugs for persons with chronic medical conditions and disabilities in the Northwest Territories. The current implementation of this program is discriminatory because benefits are only made available to residents if they have one of 50 specific diagnoses recognized by the Department of Health and Social Services. This means that some people with disabilities and chronic health conditions whose disabilities are not recognized, cannot access the program. This is discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because distinctions are being made on the basis of the type of disability people have, not on their actual needs. We are seeking immediate action to eliminate discrimination and for the Department of Health and Social Services to address other important gaps in the provision of supplementary health benefits, including that fact that the NWT has no supplementary insurance for medical travel, medical equipment, medical devices, dental care, vision care, and prescription drugs available for low-income residents.

Check out our full position paper or summary paper to learn more about this issue, our recommendations and how you can take action! 

Full Report 

Summary Page & Advocacy Info

What can I do to take action?

The GNWT Department of Health and Social Services is currently reviewing the Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program, so this is a critical moment to take action to see that reform takes place. You can support this!

  1. Contact your elected MLA by phone, email or in-person. Talk with your MLA and let them know that you know that the Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program is discriminatory and that having no program for low-income residents to have access to health insurance is an injustice and far behind the vast majority of Canada. Check out our template email and our MLA contact sheet below!

  2. Contact Hon. Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services and let him know that you are aware that a review of the Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program is taking place and let him know what changes you think should be implemented.

  3. Read our full report to learn more. 

  4. Share our message! Talk to your friends and family about why access to health insurance is important and the issues faced by NWT residents.

  5. Share our message on social media! Facebook, Twitter, whatever you use! Help get the word out there! 

Email Template

Email Template

Dear NAME OF MLA,

I am writing to you as a constituent and concerned citizen. The Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services operates three supplementary health insurance programs, one of which is the Extended Health Benefits Program for Specified Disease Conditions Program. This program provides comprehensive coverage of medical supplies, medical equipment, medical travel, and prescription drugs for residents that have chronic medical needs that are not met through the hospital and medical care insurance programs available to all NWT residents. This is a critical program for residents with disabilities and chronic illnesses in the NWT that have high out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the maintenance of their conditions; however, in order to access this program, residents must have one of 50 recognized medical conditions recognized by the Department of Health and Social Services. This means that some people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions cannot access supplementary health insurance because of the type of disability they have, even though they have unmet needs for medical supplies, medical equipment, medical travel, and prescription drugs.

This is a critical issue because without access to insurance, residents with chronic medical conditions are burdened with significant financial cost that impedes quality of life, and in cases where necessary medical supplies, equipment or prescription drugs cannot be afforded by the individual, they can be propelled into poverty, have conditions deteriorate, and face social and economic marginalization. We know that there is unmet need for residents who have disabilities other than those recognized by the Department of Health and Social Services because of all supplementary insurance programs operated by the GNWT, the Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program accounts for the overwhelming majority of denied applications for support, accounting for 69% of denied applications. From 2015-2017, 155 applicants for Extended Health Benefits for Specified Disease Conditions Program were denied coverage and 37 formal requests were submitted to the GNWT to recognize a new medical condition so that insurance can be accessed. These implications alone demand that reform be made; however, there is another important consideration to be addressed—the fact that the current implementation of the Extended Health Benefits Program violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 15(1). Providing benefit to only some residents with disabilities or chronic medical conditions and not others only on the grounds of disability type, by definition, constitutes discrimination. A full legal analysis has been completed by Alannis McKee, Vice President of the NWT Autism Society and is available here: https://www.nwtautismsociety.org/advocacy. Immediate action must be taken to eliminate Section 15(1) discrimination from the Extended Health Benefits Program. This means that insurance benefits must be provided on the basis of need and functional impairment and not on the basis of diagnosis. This is the norm in all Canadian provinces where disability supplementary insurance is provided.

The Extended Health Benefits Program for Specified Disease Conditions Program is currently under review by the Department of Health and Social Services. This is the perfect time for the GNWT to ensure that reform of this program takes place, proactively. While this program is being reviewed it is also critical to acknowledge another gap in the delivery of supplementary health benefits in the NWT. The NWT has no insurance coverage available for medical supplies, equipment, medical travel, prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care for low-income residents who have no way of accessing private insurance. The NWT is far behind the overwhelming majority of Canada in this area. The NWT is one of only two provinces/territories to not have some form of publicly funded supplementary health coverage for prescription medical and medical supplies for low-income residents. The NWT is one of only two provinces/territories to not have some form of publicly-funded vision health plan for low-income residents. The NWT is one of only three provinces/territories in Canada to not have some form of publicly-funded dental health plan for low-income residents. The GNWT should establish comprehensive supplementary insurance coverage for low-income residents, at minimum, tied to Income Support that provides coverage for medical supplies, medical equipment, medical travel, prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care for residents that do not have the financial ability to access private insurance.

I request that as an elected official you use your platform to push this critical issue forward and advocate for that the recommendations for reform detailed in the full analysis of this issue (available at: https://www.nwtautismsociety.org/advocacy) be implemented in the NWT.

 

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Word Version of Email Template

Campaign Update

MLA Contact List

Caroline Cochrane

Range Lake

Caroline_Cochrane@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11124

Daniel Mark McNeely

Sahtu

Daniel_McNeely@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12160

Louis Sebert

Thebacha

Louis_Sebert@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11130

Tom Beaulieu

Tu Nedhé- Wiilideh

Tom_Beaulieu@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12185

Julie Green

Yellowknife Centre

Julie_Green@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12180

Cory Vanthuyne

Yellowknife North

Cory_Vanthuyne@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12170

Robert R. McLeod

Yellowknife South

Bob_McLeod@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11080

Robert C. McLeod

Inuvik Twin Lakes

Robert_C_McLeod@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11128

Kieron Testart

Kam Lake

Kieron_Testart@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12135

Frederick Blake Jr.

Mackenzie Delta

Frederick_Blake@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12130

Jackson Lafferty

Monfwi

Jackson_Lafferty@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9133 ext. 12005

Shane Thompson

Nahendeh

Shane_Thompson@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12140

Herbert Nakimayak

Nunakput

Herbert_Nakimayak@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12145

Glen Abernethy

Great Slave &

Minister of Health and Social Services

glen_abernethy@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11135

Michael M. Nadli

Deh Cho

Michael_Nadli@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12105

Kevin O’Reilly

Frame Lake

Kevin_O’Reilly@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12110

R. J. Simpson

Hay River North

RJ_Simpson@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9143 ext. 12115

Wally Schumann

Hay River South

Wally_Schumann@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11138

Alfred Moses

Inuvik Boot Lake

Alfred_Moses@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9141 ext. 11120

MLA Contact Info

Note: This page was updated on June 14th, 2019 to adjust the number of specified disease conditions from 49 to 50 to reflect an updated count from the time the paper was written to the time this page was posted. Older content may reference 49 conditions, but the updated count is 50. This change was made to ensure accuracy; however, does not change the substantive argument of our position paper or campaign.