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McGuinty Government Expands Healthcare Access In Far North Communities

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McGuinty Government Expands Healthcare Access In Far North Communities

RED LAKE -- The McGuinty government is improving healthcare access and quality of life for remote First Nations communities by investing $1,093,928 in telehealth services, Northern Development and Mines Minister and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) Chair Rick Bartolucci announced today.

"All Ontarians are entitled to quality health care, wherever they live," said Bartolucci. "With the funding announced today, our government is delivering on our agenda of positive change to achieve that goal."

The Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) Chiefs' Tribal Council developed and operated a two-year telemedicine pilot project in five of its six communities. With provincial and federal funding, KO, which advises and assists its member First Nations in various capacities, will continue to expand the telehealth services.

"Expanding telehealth services into the Far North will bring tremendous medical, social and financial benefits to the residents of these First Nations," said Michael Bryant, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs. "I am delighted that this technology will soon serve additional remote communities, and I look forward to the positive quality of life improvements that will result."

The Northern Ontario Remote Telecommunications Health (NORTH) Network, a telemedicine project that provides consultations and continuing education to rural and remote communities in Northern Ontario, currently serves 38 communities. The additional funding provided through the NOHFC will enable KO Telehealth, in partnership with NORTH Network, to provide improved healthcare access to 19 additional First Nations communities across the Far North.

"A most exciting aspect of this project is the number of ways in which telehealth services in the Far North and the Northern Ontario Medical School will be working together to improve health care for all northerners," said George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "I am delighted that our government is helping bring about these health care improvements in this region of the province."

The McGuinty government is returning the Fund to its original mandate of fostering private sector job creation. The NOHFC is working in partnership with the private sector and other levels of government to diversify the northern economy and stimulate job growth. It is an essential part of the government's commitment to delivering a four-year plan for positive change across Northern Ontario.

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