Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 13, 2018 - 9:30 am

GN wants stakeholders’ input as it develops new medical travel policy

Consultants recommend a centralized booking tool

The GN has estimated the value of its combined medical and duty travel at between $60 million and $65 million a year and wants to trim those costs, while ensuring adequate air service to all Nunavut communities. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The GN has estimated the value of its combined medical and duty travel at between $60 million and $65 million a year and wants to trim those costs, while ensuring adequate air service to all Nunavut communities. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

A firm hired to study the territory’s medical and duty travel policy has found the Government of Nunavut could benefit from more central management and more transparency from its contracted airlines.

Lufthansa Consulting—a German firm affiliated with the airline of the same name—won the GN’s bidding process last fall to help develop a new airline procurement policy ahead of the territory’s next medical and duty travel contracts.

The GN has estimated the value of its combined medical and duty travel at between $60 million and $65 million a year and wants to trim those costs, while ensuring adequate air service to all Nunavut communities.

Lufthansa Consulting found the process was lacking a centralized booking tool—something all GN departments could use when booking travel, to help the government better track volumes and expenses.

Airlines could also contribute to that by reporting their own data to the GN on a regular basis, the firm said in its report.

Among its other findings:

• Flights booked for medical travel on aircraft are too frequently missed or passengers just don’t show up, which can mean unnecessary expenses or lost revenues to the airlines.

• The market in Nunavut is overserved on some routes, resulting in too many flights flying with too few paying passengers.

• Airlines’ operating costs are high compared to those in other jurisdictions. Airlines in Nunavut have a higher than industry average of flights being cancelled due to mechanical failure. Older model aircraft are also burning higher volumes of fuel, which represents up to 40 per cent of the airlines’ operating costs.

“There are opportunities for the GN to promote more efficiency within the Nunavut airline industry by using its market size influence to the benefit of all Nunavummiut,” the report found.

But before the GN can go ahead and draft a new strategy, the government is seeking input from industry stakeholders to help inform that policy.

The request for input is not a formal bidding process, the GN noted, but still adheres to rules and guidelines listed in the request’s tender document.

The GN has extended its current contracts with airlines until Aug, 31, 2019.

In the meantime, interested parties have until the end of August 2018 to provide their input.

With that feedback, the GN will prepare a request for proposals to go out by November 2018, with plans to award the new medical and duty travel contracts by April 2019.

The new contract terms will be five years in length, the GN said, with an option to renew for two additional terms of two years each.

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(10) Comments:

#1. Posted by Airplane on June 13, 2018

in remote communities use the current airlines.
If you miss the plane and have a real good reason, re-book. if there is no good reason, then patient has to pay own way.
Large centers like Iqaluit and Rankin the GN should by a plane and fly their patients back and forth to yellowknife and Ottawa.
Hire qualified professional people at Boarding homes that can translate and help patients. No more need to have escorts, only when there is a minor.
Black list escorts that dont help the patient.

#2. Posted by Common Sense on June 13, 2018

When I was booked for medical travel I was advised 3 hours before the flight was leaving that I was booked on a flight for an appointment. I had zero advance notice. Thankfully my employer at the time let me go. Could missed flights be possibly due to incompetence of the staff as well, not just patients missing flights? I think so.

#3. Posted by Piitaqanngi on June 13, 2018

Cut escorts for patients that can speak English. Physically able patients also do not need be escorted provided they can speak passable English. GN has medical interpreters available… what are they for?

#4. Posted by pissed off on June 13, 2018

lot of the money and time wasted is about poor management of the scheduling of Doctors, flights and patients.

This is a 24/7 function that is crucial!!

If that`s done right a lot of money could be saved.
Not by people that can barely arrange their own life and don`t show up half of the time. It cannot be done if all you get is a voice mail everywhere.
Once that is done in a professional manner then you have to deal with the patient side.Too many people are not behaving properly , not showing up at the right time and all….
Then you have the weather but that the one thing we can`t control.

It will always be expensive to travel up North, we all know that but responsible behavior at each step would help a lot. We can expect that from the airlines but we MUST demand that from the people in the Government agencies that control the rest

#5. Posted by What are they good for? on June 13, 2018

I’ve seen escorts for people on medical travel where I’ve questioned why someone is necessary, yet there’s been no escorts for someone in an almost identical situation. It’s almost as if for those patients whether or not they get an escort depends on if a family member wants to do some shopping.

#6. Posted by Ex-Airline Guy on June 13, 2018

The GN does use the medical contract to enact social policy. Specifically flight frequency and same day connections to communities outside of Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay. The baggage allowance of 2 pieces at 32 kg per piece was in the medical contract, as was hot meals for flight segments over 2 hours.

For a fact the GN could have saved millions, yes millions, if they had given the entire medical contract to one carriers but they refused. They want “competition” on all the routes even though it makes no sense for the airlines to both over serve small communities.

Noshows are also a huge cost for the airlines, and many of the escorts are just there for the shopping trip.

#7. Posted by meh on June 13, 2018

to poster #5, I agree with your comment, just to add a little more to the end of your comment, “family member wants to do some shopping” its wants called an “eskimo holiday” were an inuk goes down south with only 1 thing in mind, shopping. LOL

#8. Posted by Gordon on June 13, 2018

Medical travel? I mean just look at that fellow who took his whole family to Ottawa for 4 months. The GN paid hotel the whole time? This was beneficiary travel. Stay at Larga.

#9. Posted by Escort 1 on June 13, 2018

Perhaps the GN should do away with medical escorts for those who speak English or French, but provide an in-room telephone or cell phone for those who are hospitalized down south for more than a few days. 

Long distance calls on a hospital pay phone typically cost $25 per call!

Escorts provide a vital support for individuals who are far from home and dealing with life-threatening or terminal conditions.

#10. Posted by peter on June 13, 2018

Medical travel is a larger world from a cost and service perspective than intimated above. Look at the fellow who resided in a GN paid hotel on per diems for 4 months while on beneficary med travel. Pretty costly considering Larga is there for such things.

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