Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), in budget 2006, the Government of Canada promised to review programs to ensure every taxpayer dollar spent was achieving results, providing value for money and meeting the needs of Canadians. As a result of this expenditure review, funding for the first nations and Inuit tobacco control strategy, FNITCS, was eliminated because the program had been ineffective in achieving its goal of lowering the smoking rates among first nations and Inuit. Current data indicates that smoking rates among first nations and Inuit remain very high, at approximately triple the Canadian average; 59% of first nations and 58% of Inuit are smokers.
In response to (b)(i), in September 2006, the federal government committed to work with first nations and Inuit leaders to examine options for measures that would reduce smoking, prevent the harms of tobacco smoke, and show accountability for results not achieved by the former first nations and Inuit tobacco control program. First nations and Inuit leaders are important partners and have a major role to play in an effective program that will meet the needs of their community, address the issues of smoke-free spaces, youth smoking and access to tobacco products.
Canadian and international evidence shows that in order to achieve lasting results, tobacco control actions must be comprehensive, integrated and sustained. This includes the full range of interventions, including prevention, cessation, education, as well as protection--smoke-free spaces, retailer actions and compliance--, pricing, research, surveillance and evaluation.
Health Canada has worked with first nations and Inuit partners in a number of ways to promote evidence based approaches to tobacco control: supported the Assembly of First Nations to hire a special adviser to the national chief; collaborated with the Assembly of First Nations on public opinion research regarding first nations health directors’ perceptions of tobacco control activities; and supported Inuit tobacco network to develop an evidence based, Inuit specific strategy.
In response to (b)(ii), this work, in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit tobacco network, has informed first nations and Inuit participation in the federal tobacco control strategy, FTCS. Funding is available to support first nations and Inuit projects through the FTCS proposals process. In addition, Health Canada supports a range of health promotion programs in first nations and Inuit communities, from diabetes prevention to maternal and child health promotion. These programs aim to enable first nations and Inuit to adopt healthy lifestyles, which includes tobacco cessation.
In response to (c), national tobacco use statistical data specific to first nations is being collected through the first nations regional longitudinal health survey. Data is currently being collected for the phase II 2008 survey. Tobacco use data specific to Inuit, as well as other aboriginal residents of Canada, is collected through Statistics Canada’s aboriginal peoples survey. Results of the 2006 survey were released December 3, 2008.