Food safety, building ‘deficiencies’ prompt kitchen closure at Arviat Elders Home

Kitchen ‘badly’ needs renovations, says manager

Nunavut’s Department of Health closed the kitchen of the Arviat Elders Home after 13 deficiencies were identified in a food safety inspection on Aug. 26, the department announced Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Health)

By Madalyn Howitt

The Department of Health has closed the kitchen facilities of the Arviat Elders Home after it identified multiple building and food-handling deficiencies, a spokesperson announced Wednesday.

“The current condition of the kitchen no longer meets the standards required for food preparation for a residential care facility,” said Danarae Sommerville in a news release.

The decision to close the kitchen came after a routine inspection by an environmental health officer on Aug. 26, Sommerville said.

The food safety inspection report submitted by officer Gary Nelson listed 13 violations, up from four identified in an earlier Feb. 10 report that Nelson conducted.

“Kitchen countertops are in very poor repair, and need replacing soonest. Kitchen is showing its age, so a complete renovation is needed. [I] was expecting that this would be completed on this inspection,” he said.

He also notes the floor is in poor condition and the ceiling “has holes where light fixtures were changed.” Photos included in the report show yellow tape being used to seal cracks in the countertops and along the counter edge.

The Arviat Elders Home has long awaited renovations. They were due to start in May but were delayed due to “challenges procuring the necessary supplies,” Sommerville said.

Nelson also listed several food-handling and food safety issues, including an insufficient number of sinks, the dishwasher not being used, a lack of proper handwashing, food being defrosted at room temperature, and no sanitizer being used.

He noted a sign above the kitchen sink in February telling staff not to wash their hands at that sink had been removed, but that some staff were still washing their hands in a bathroom sink when he inspected in August.

“Poor handwashing is an ongoing long-term deficiency at this facility,” he said, adding another sink needs to be installed, bringing the total to three sinks in the kitchen.

The Department of Health funds and contracts service provider Pimakslirvik Corporation to provide care and kitchen services at the centre.

Terri Okokpok is the manager of the Arviat Elders Home and oversees kitchen operations. In an interview Thursday, Okokpok disputed many of the claims the report made about poor hygiene practices and food-handling in the kitchen.

“We use the dishwasher, we wash our hands all the time,” she said.

She said the biggest issue with the kitchen is how run-down it is.

“The kitchen badly needs renovations.”

Okokpok said the kitchen hasn’t been renovated since the building opened more than 20 years ago.

Sommerville said the Department of Health will work with its partners to renovate and update the kitchen facilities “as soon as possible to bring it back into compliance.”

The Arviat Elders Home is owned and maintained by the Nunavut Housing Corporation, which was notified of the kitchen deficiencies in February after the first inspection, health department spokesperson Chris Puglia said.

In an email, Nunavut Housing Corp. spokesperson Joshua Long said supply-chain issues prevented the organization from “securing the needed materials any faster.”

“We are taking steps to ensure the facility can prepare food properly. We are installing a sink in the kitchen and conducting repairs of the countertop,” he said

He said the materials needed for a “more permanent solution” are expected to arrive in the next two months.

“We are working with the Department of Health to ensure these repairs are sufficient until a new countertop and sink can be installed,” Long said.

Hotel chain Inns North has been contracted to provide meal services temporarily to the Elders currently living at the facility, Sommerville said.


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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by How Indeed on

    The GN expects to build 1000 houses during the remaining life of this government and to maintain them, along with the thousands it is already responsible for maintaining.
    Isn’t there also something in this government’s Mandate about caring for elders?
    Yet it cannot even keep one kitchen in good working order.
    How will that scale up…….

    • Posted by Umingmak on

      They cancelled every single planned housing build for next year, including 4 elders plexes in Iqaluit. Their promises are completely worthless. Akeeagok and his cabinet have proven to be completely & utterly incapable of completing even the simplest tasks.

    • Posted by oops on

      999/1000 record is pretty good one, 0.1% error is a good number, but its sad it was at an elders home.

    • Posted by Will Turner on

      Any word from Nunavut Dept of Health about the recent fuel spill at recently built Health Center in Taloyoak?

  2. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    I don’t know in what world some of you have been living, but building supplies from the south are not arriving as quickly as food supplies.
    All the promises in the world can’t make it any quicker.
    My contractor ordered new kitchen cabinets with a major supplier a year ago and found out in June that the supplier won’t be able to meet the order.
    A new supplier was found and yet the cabinetry has yet to arrive although we suspect it is en route. So better use patience folks
    And I would like to know the source of the information that 1000 new homes will be built during this legislative assembly. Impossible.! Can’t be done.

  3. Posted by Arnaq on

    The Young and the Restless that came to GN from NTI thought they could do it better than the Old and the Persevering.

  4. Posted by Kurious on

    Does the manager of this facility have food safety training?

  5. Posted by Shawn on

    Living conditions present life…the public housing system is *** **


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