Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 09, 2018 - 9:45 am

Feasibility study for Nunavut treatment centre in final stages

“We look forward to those results and moving forward on that work"

SARAH ROGERS
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says her department has funded a feasibility study to look into a Nunavut-based addictions treatment centre.
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says her department has funded a feasibility study to look into a Nunavut-based addictions treatment centre.

The Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. are studying the potential of building an in-territory addictions and trauma treatment centre.

A feasibility study commissioned by the GN’s quality of life secretariat is set to be completed in June, and will offer options on how to establish Inuit-focused rehabilitation services.

A request for proposals for this study was issued last spring and awarded in the fall to NVision Insight Group—formerly Aarluk Consulting, Consilium and Stonecircle Consulting—at a cost of $119,077.

Indigenous Services Canada footed the bill, in response to a request from NTI and the Government of Nunavut, which approached the federal government for support to build a facility.

Indigenous Services Canada paid $388,000 to the GN’s quality of life secretariat to lead the study, though it’s unclear what costs, besides the study, that will cover.

The study itself has flown under the radar, with even the territory’s leadership asking when Ottawa will step in to help.

Earlier this week, Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo asked Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott about the government’s support for a treatment facility in the House of Commons.

“We have heard that call for a treatment facility in the territory and we have funded a feasibility study to that end,” Health Minister Jane Philpott responded.

“We look forward to those results and moving forward on that work.”

The centre was a sticking point for many Nunavummiut ahead of the 2017 opening of Iqaluit’s retail wine and beer store, which prompted the resignation of Nunavut’s health and justice minister, Paul Okalik.

More recently, Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson has threatened to vote against Bill C-45, the federal Cannabis Act, if Ottawa does not fund addictions treatment in the territory.

The initiative to build a Nunavut-based centre is being led by a working group made up of a number of Nunavut wellness organizations.

NTI is among them, though the organization did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for interview.

NTI President Aluki Kotierk recently told a Senate committee the feasibility study is only the beginning of what would be a five-year timeline to see such a centre built.

The project would mark the first time the territory has had its own addictions treatment facility since 1998, when the Inusiqsiuqvik Treatment Centre in Apex shut its doors after a seven-year run.

Since then, residential treatment has been available only at centres located outside the territory.

While no physical treatment centre exists in the territory, the GN has run a mobile addictions treatment program in Cambridge Bay, and the GN and other community-based organizations, such as the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, also provide limited counselling services.

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