The GNWT says it will commit to a system that helps vulnerable people navigate government agencies after a pilot program proved its worth.
Integrated case management gives people one government point of contact who provides straightforward access to help they need, removing bureaucratic barriers between departments.
A pilot of the system has been operational in Yellowknife and the surrounding area since 2015. The pilot initially identified clients by analyzing which people spent the most time involved with emergency services.
Its goal is to help people “out of crisis and toward greater self-sufficiency.”
Integrated case management was quickly earmarked as a winner. In early 2018, RCMP said the system contributed to a reduction in calls to police, while in the most recent budget the NWT government committed $827,000 to make integrated case management a permanent program.
On Wednesday, the territory said it was now committed to “making the move” toward more of what it calls integrated service delivery – programs that make it easier for people to get help from various government departments at the same time.
That follows an evaluation of the Yellowknife pilot that the GNWT says showed a return on investment of $4.50 for every dollar spent.
The GNWT said the study showed people being helped were getting $2.52 in measurable benefits for each dollar, with their children and families seeing an extra 66 cents and the government receiving $1.31 in value.
Participants told the study that integrated case management had helped, while the majority of service providers reported their workloads had been eased.
“The outcomes from this study reinforce that much of the program’s success lies in the way that service is provided and how people are treated,” the NWT government said in a news release.
“Equity, flexibility, and person-centred service make up the foundation to effectively support people living with complex social challenges.”
Caroline Wawzonek, the justice minister, said integrated case management had her “full support” and was integral to the way the NWT helps people struggling the most.
“It is not enough that government services are available,” Wawzonek said in a statement. “They must be accessible and delivered in a timely and flexible manner that recognizes that not everyone starts from the same point, and ensures all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect.”
The GNWT said that of 217 people who had so far “had significant interactions” with integrated case management, 80 percent were Indigenous and 54 percent were female.
The median age of participants was 44. Almost half of them were supporting children.
Eighty percent were unemployed, 65 percent were residential school survivors or came from families of survivors, 70 percent had mental health issues, and 53 percent struggled with a form of substance use.