Up until recently the majority of territorial residents diagnosed with disabilities would be sent to residential facilities in the south where they could receive necessary services. The territorial governments are slowly beginning to make improvements, offering limited residential options and services to residents and increasing spending on disability supports.
However, the territories are faced with huge hurdles:
- Weak government capacity means individuals and their families struggle to access information about existing supports and programs;
- The severe housing shortage in the North affects individuals with disabilities disproportionately;
- Community infrastructure is poor overall with weak capacity to deliver services to the most remote areas; and,
- Territorial governments have been unable to secure the same federal transfer agreements as the provinces (such as the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities) because accepting federal funding requires territorial governments to agree to cuts in funding support to other sectors.
The Northwest Territories offers the most comprehensive disability support program and actually has an Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities. Last updated in 2008, the action plan focuses on improvements in education, employment, income supports, non-income supports, and housing1. The NWT government also offers a Voluntary Service Agreement (VSA) to families with disabled children requiring supports, but each VSA contract is only valid for six months at a time before review is required2. The Yellowknife Association for Community Living has carried out research on how to implement delivery models developed in the south (such as independent living and respite care) in a northern context as well as how to increase the accessible housing stock to improve residential options3.
The Yukon also started a process towards improving supports in 2012 as a part of the government’s Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Strategy4. Unfortunately no progress on delivery of services and supports has been officially reported to date.
 Northwest Territories Health and Social Services. (2008). NWT Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities. Available from http://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/sites/default/files/nwt_action_plan_for_persons_with_disabilities.pdf
 Northwest Territories Health and Social Services. (2012). Voluntary Services: How Can Child and Family Services help my family? Available online: http://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/sites/default/files/voluntary-services.pdf
 Yellowknife Association for Community Living. (2006). We All Belong. Available online at http://www.ykacl.ca/sites/default/files/We%20All%20Belong.pdf
 Yukon Health and Social Services. (2009). Social Inclusion & Poverty Reduction Strategy. Available online at http://www.abetteryukon.ca/files/social_inclusion_strategy.pdf