COVID-19 pandemic delays construction of Nunavut elders facility

New design must incorporate new infection prevention standards

Progress on the construction of long-term care beds in Rankin Inlet, shown here, and Cambridge Bay, will be one of the important stories to watch in 2021. (File photo)

By Jane George

Construction of a long-term care facility in Rankin Inlet has been cancelled this summer due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, says the Government of Nunavut.

“The GN is still committed to advancing the current approved 24-bed long term care facility in Rankin Inlet that has been approved by the legislative assembly,” said Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak in an emailed statement.

But no construction of the facility is planned for 2020.

The request for proposals for the facility had required a fall 2020 construction start, and contractors were required to make sure structural steel needed for building was on the last sealift of 2020, the GN said in an email response to questions from Nunatsiaq News.

“This became an unachievable outcome,” the GN said, based upon the timing of the awarding of the contract and the risk to the project schedule posed by COVID-19 restrictions in place across Canada.

Last November, MLAs approved the money needed to start work on the Rankin Inlet facility when they passed Bill 30, which included the GN’s capital budget.

The Rankin Inlet facility, which was to be ready for occupancy by 2023, formed part of the GN’s plans to meet its goal of offering 156 extended-care beds to elders in the territory by 2030: 24 beds in the Kivalliq, 24 beds in the Kitikmeot, and 108 beds for Iqaluit.

The GN now says there are many “unknowns related to the anticipated new federal standards for long-term care facilities in light of the recent issues throughout Canada involving COVID-19 cases.”

That means more design time will be needed, as new infection prevention standards in facilities become available.

“The new design approach will help address this and provide design time to include additional measures to mitigate the spread of infectious disease among the vulnerable residents living within a LTC [long-term care] facility,” the GN said.

So the GN has transitioned to a new, slower, design-bid-build delivery instead of a design-build approach.

The RFP for design services is currently advertised on and is scheduled to close on May 22.

The designing of the facility will commence upon the awarding of the contract to an architectural and engineering firm, the GN said.

“Design will occur from June 2020 until Feb 2021 when we expect to have a tender for construction ready to advertise,” the GN said.

“That tender will be advertised for the regular four weeks and we expect to award the construction contract in April 2021. This will allow enough time to ensure structural steel and building envelope materials can arrive in sealift 2021 and construction of the facility can occur in summer 2021.”

Cathy Towtongie, MLA for Rankin Inlet North–Chesterfield Inlet, said she was disappointed about the delay and what it means for the elders in southern facilities “who have no access to family, culture, language and the land of their birth.”

“In these times with COVID-19, priorities have shifted to ensure Nunavutmiut’s lives are safe,” Towtongie said. “But the elders’ facility will not disappear—it cannot and will not.”

The other two long-care facility projects for Iqaluit and the Kitikmeot region continue to move forward in the planning phase, and the project plans and budgets should be ready for the fall 2021 sitting of the legislative assembly, the GN said.

(The cost of the facility had been cited at $27.5 M in this story, but an email from CCS said the amount “is significantly lower than the real cost.” Spokesperson Eric Mustafa said he could not provide the correct figure because the “GN does not release its capital project budgets in advance of procurement.”)

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Uvaali on

    …one for the Kitikmeot. Where? What happened to the facility for Kugluktuk?

    Only one Kitikmeot community is very infrastructure-rich now and all programs and jobs go there.

    Where is the push for the other Kitikmeot communities?

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      You are right. It is time to spread the goodwill. Kugluktuk should be proud to have come forward with a plan and support of an elder’s facility. However, we need to be sure we keep up with reality. The facility plans will need to be virus-proof as much as it can and as such the plans may need to be revised. Be ready folks. When the call goes out for quotes be prepared and be the first to respond with a plan that they can’t refuse. I am somewhat surprised that no one over here in the East (read GN) hasn’t announced where the facility will be. Or are they hiding something? It is also unfortunate that we don’t have someone here representing you in the Legislature. Keep up the good work

  2. Posted by Covid on

    April 14, 2020: The Government of Canada ordered that travellers arriving in Canada cannot isolate or quarantine in a place where they would be in contact with people who are vulnerable. Upon arrival, travellers must confirm they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine. If they cannot do so, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will designate a place ( link ). April 13, 2020: The Government of Canada granted an exemption for temporary foreign workers from the travel restrictions to Canada, along with other foreigners with student and work visas, provided they adhere to a strict 14-day isolation protocol upon arrival. The federal government will provide $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not violating the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order ( link ).

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