This initiative is being introduced as a way to combat Nunavut‚Äôs high infant mortality rates. According to 2012 data from Statistics Canada, Nunavut has had the highest rates every year since 1999, and currently has a rate that is five times higher than the country‚Äôs average.
‚ÄúReducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant mortality is a priority,‚ÄĚ said Minister of Health George Hickes in a press release. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm thrilled that Nunavut is taking the lead on this baby box initiative ‚Äď the first publicly funded universal program of its kind in Canada.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ GovernmentofNunavut (@GOVofNUNAVUT) October 26, 2016
Baby boxes were first introduced to Canada earlier this year when Alberta launched a pilot program called ‚ÄúWelcome to Parenthood.‚ÄĚ The initiative was made possible thanks to the Alberta Government, University of Calgary, and Baby Box Co. co-founder Jennifer Clary, whose company was the first to make baby boxes outside of Europe.
Nunavut‚Äôs baby box program is an extension of this pilot and run by the territory‚Äôs departments of Health and Education. If it is successful, the program may continue beyond 2017.
Nunavut‚Äôs boxes come with a variety of baby items, including clothes, diapers and breastfeeding equipment. As a unique touch for the territory, the box also contains children‚Äôs books in Nunavut‚Äôs four official languages.
‚ÄĒ Jane George (@sikugirl) October 25, 2016
Similar to Finnish tradition, the box also functions as a perfect first bed for baby ‚Äď with its own mattress and fitted sheet ‚Äď and was approved by Health Canada.
Parents can register for a baby box at prenatal appointments or at community health centres, which will be distributing the boxes.
Nunavut and Alberta aren‚Äôt the only territory and province with baby boxes. In January, Saskatchewan store owners of Ready Set Baby Planners and Boutique started providing them in the Saskatoon area ‚Äď but for a price.
Ontario also launched a program this year thanks to The Baby Box Co. In its first year, the Ontario program will distribute 145,000 boxes to expectant parents, making it the largest baby box program in the world.
Read more about Ontario‚Äôs baby box program here.