Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to speak to our government's continued support for maternal and child health initiatives, including for first nations and Inuit. This year alone, our government is investing over $150 million to support healthy child development programming and services in first nations and Inuit communities.
I would also like to make one thing perfectly clear for all colleagues in the House. There have been no cuts to maternal child health programs for Manitoba first nations. Indeed, it is our Conservative government that renewed the aboriginal maternal child health program in 2010 and we are investing $23.8 million this year alone. Since 2006, our government has spent approximately $169 million under the child health program. Our overall current funding supports home visits by nurses and family visitors to almost 1,500 families in approximately 185 first nation communities.
One example of this programming is the maternal child health program, which enables home visits by nurses and family visitors for first nations women and families with young children. Through a case management approach, the needs of pregnant women and new parents are assessed. Healthy, prenatal and postnatal lifestyles are promoted and links are made to other needed community services. We are seeing significant improvements in first nation communities with this programming, such as higher proportions of first nations children being breastfed for longer than six months and increased screening for developmental milestones, prenatal risk factors and existing health conditions.
At this stage of the funding cycle, the government is well aware that all partners involved in these initiatives are anxious to receive confirmation of future funding and I would like to assure the House that the health and well-being of mothers and their children remain a priority for our government.
In addition to the maternal child health program, Health Canada invests $12.7 million per year in the Canada prenatal nutrition program for first nations and Inuit. This program focuses on pregnant women and women with infants up to 12 months of age, supporting activities related to nutrition screening, education and counselling, maternal nourishment, and breastfeeding promotion and support.
The Public Health Agency of Canada also administers the community action program for children, providing funding to community-based groups to develop and deliver prevention and early intervention programs focusing on vulnerable children from birth to six years of age and for their families.
The government also supports a number of other programs and services related to maternal and child health for first nations and Inuit, including the aboriginal head start on reserve program, which provides $49 million annually to nurture the healthy growth and development of children from birth to six years of age in first nation communities by meeting their emotional, social, health, nutritional, cultural, and psychological needs.
The brighter futures program supports the well-being of children and families through a community development approach. Activities can include mental health counselling, youth activity programming, culture camps, and school breakfast programs.
There is also the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder program, which provides approximately $40 million to support first nations and Inuit communities to educate and raise awareness about the impacts of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Activities include developing mentoring programs to stop or reduce alcohol use during pregnancy, facilitating access to earlier diagnoses, and building capacity among front-line staff.
Finally, there is the children's oral health initiative, which provides over $5 million annually to promote good oral health initiatives.
In closing, our government recognizes that improving the health of first nations and Inuit is a shared undertaking among federal, provincial and territorial governments.