Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that the health and safety of all Canadians is important to our government. We are committed to improving health outcomes for first nations and the Inuit. We recognize that strategic investments in maternal and child health lead to greatly improved long-term health outcomes, which is why we will continue to work with our partners to support maternal and child health programs in first nations and Inuit communities.
Budget 2010 has demonstrated our government's ongoing commitment to improving aboriginal health outcomes by investing $285 million over two years. This investment will be put towards aboriginal health programs in the areas of diabetes, suicide prevention, health human resources, the aboriginal health transition fund, and maternal and child health.
Our government supports a range of programs and services that promote improved health outcomes for first nations and Inuit children and their families. These initiatives support healthy pregnancies, healthy births and healthy child development.
Through these programs, the Government of Canada is helping to address factors that impact maternal and infant mortality in first nations and Inuit communities by promoting healthy behaviours such as smoking cessation, increasing access to quality prenatal care and regulated birth attendance, and providing information on maternal nutrition.
As well, through the maternal and child health program, the Government of Canada works to ensure that first nations women, children and families reach their fullest developmental and lifetime potential.
Specific services through the maternal and child health program include home visits by nurses and family visitors for first nations pregnant women and families with infants and young children, to provide follow-up, referrals and case management, as well as screening and assessment of pregnant women and new parents' access to the services they need.
In the north, the program enhances disease prevention and health promotion activities provided for Inuit communities by the provincial and territorial governments.
We have also initiated activities to improve maternal and infant nutritional health care through the Canada prenatal nutrition program, including breastfeeding promotion and support, nutritional screening, education and counselling, and maternal nourishment.
The first nations and Inuit component of the Canada prenatal nutrition program has an annual budget of $14 million and currently reaches over 9,000 first nations and Inuit women per year at approximately 450 project sites, which serve more than 600 communities.
Health Canada is also investing $16 million annually to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder births and to improve health outcomes for those affected in first nations communities.
Our government also monitors maternal and infant health through the Canadian perinatal surveillance system. Through this system we work with leading experts from across the country to analyze and report on women's health in pregnancy and childbirth.
In the north, we are supporting the Government of Nunavut in its responsibility to provide health services to all territorial residents, including those for new mothers and children.
The territorial health system sustainability initiative is a five-year, $150 million program that supports territorial health system reforms and offsets medical travel expenses in the three territories.
My colleague asked about midwifery. Budget 2010 confirmed a two-year, $60 million extension of the territorial health system sustainability initiative to provide the opportunity for territorial governments to continue building upon the successes realized over the first five years. As part of the initiative, Nunavut dedicated substantial resources to expand community midwifery services and modernize its midwifery act.
Our government is committed to helping first nations and Inuit leaders, partners and stakeholders to ensure access to quality health programs for infants, children and families in all first nations and Inuit communities.