GN to pay thousands in bonuses to keep health-care workers

Nurses in Nunavut’s most remote communities to get $19,500 annual salary top-up

Nunavut Health Minister John Main, NEU President Jason Rochon and Premier P.J. Akeeagok pose Nov. 10 after signing a memorandum of understanding between the union and the department of health. (File photo)

By Jorge Antunes

The Government of Nunavut is offering thousands of dollars in bonuses to its health-care employees and future hires — above what’s already included in its contract with unionized workers — in a bid to recruit and retain workers.

In a memorandum of understanding signed on Nov. 10, nurses will receive annual salary top-ups ranging from $11,625 to  $19,500, depending on the size of their health centre.

There are also hourly premiums of $10 per hour for difficult-to-recruit positions, such as community health nurse, nurse practitioner, public health nurse, psychiatric nurse, mental health consultant and midwife. Those premiums rise to $15 per hour for these positions in communities designated as “difficult” to staff. The MOU does not list which communities fall under this designation.

There are also retention bonuses of $3,000 at six months of employment; $5,000 at one year of employment; and $7,000 at two years of employment. The GN is also offering a $3,000 sign-on bonus at hiring.

As well, the GN is implementing a FANS Loan Forgiveness Program which will forgive up to 20 per cent of a Nunavut student’s outstanding loan debt, up to $5,000 annually, for working in the territory.

Beyond monetary incentives, the MOU enshrines a number of other employee rights, including discretionary leave, two 15-minute rest periods per shift, and rules around scheduling. For example, split shifts will not be permitted.

The MOU is retroactive to Aug 2.

Nunavut Employees Union president Jason Rochon said the MOU includes issues the union was pushing for during the last round of bargaining and that they should be included in the next collective agreement.

“We think that this MOU is really going to help support the nurses and health-care workers that we already have in the territory, and also help with retention and recruitment, but this is only a first step,” he said.

Rochon specifically said he believes the debt forgiveness program will be a good tool for recruitment and retention. 

Health Minister John Main said in an interview Nov. 17 that he believes the agreement will go a long way to addressing employee concerns.

Nunatsiaq News recently reported concerns from several nurses who allege Nunavut’s health centres are toxic work environments, their harassment complaints don’t result in improvements and that this work culture has persisted for years.

Nunatsiaq News asked Main, considering the history of the problems in the department, why he and the NEU announced the memorandum of understanding now.

“Staffing across Nunavut and the state of our workforce, [is] extremely concerning, in terms of the essential services that we’re trying to provide at the community level, right across the territory,” he said. 

“This is what led to the MOU… It took us quite some time to develop it.”

Share This Story

(32) Comments:

  1. Posted by Throw some money at it on

    Here’s to thinking throwing money at a problem will magically fix it 🙃

    • Posted by Mark on

      Money (enough) can fix the problem for sure. Why is it that there are those that believe healthcare Human Resources is somehow exempt from the laws of capital markets and supply and demand? Pay me 2x what I am getting and I will absolutely go to Nunavut. The main problem in Healthcare in Canada is poor wages for doctors and nurses. Pay more and you will have more family doctors and nurses. They will go into the field or come from outside the country. Period. Supply and demand. Period. Wages down, they leave…wages up… they stay. Simple. Tell me I’m wrong and explain how these economic rules apply to everything but healthcare workers. I’m waiting. Cheers

  2. Posted by CHN on

    Does this mean only CHNs will be getting the increased amount. ?

  3. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    What is this, take the abuse and you’ll get paid more?

    • Posted by Mediocrities on

      This is the kind of thing mediocre minds devise when confronted with complex problems.

    • Posted by alex on

      Sure sounds like they think that paying more money will fix the issue. Paying a nurse more does not prevent a nurse from dishing out the abuse. The entire culture needs top to bottom work. Unless you fix those issues, no money will will save a good worker from leaving.

    • Posted by frank on

      wait….did i not just read the other day about nunavut nurses being harassed by other nurses and leaving. i think this is to shut those remaining nurses about the facts and keep them by giving them more money, nobody’s going to complain when they are getting extra money, right?!?!

  4. Posted by 😂 on

    MLA’S and GN laughing all the way to the bank I’m going to nursing school now 🤣

  5. Posted by Inuk on

    How about hiring fluent inuktitut teachers not baby inuktitut talkers.

    • Posted by Let’s pretend on

      I’d be interested to know how many fluent Inuktitut speakers are in the labour pool for nursing. Wouldn’t you?

      • Posted by Bilingualism on

        All the nurses should be fluent in Inuktut, ideally, as with every person in public service.

        • Posted by Deevo on

          That’s impossible if you really think about rationally

        • Posted by King Canute on

          This has long been a problem with thinking in ‘ideals,’ it is inevitable that loose contact with reality will end badly.

    • Posted by Inuk Baby talkers on

      What do you mean by baby talkers? Like infants talkers or childish mind set that have an adult body! 🤔 be more specific other then just use small words! Everyone in Nunavut is old enough to properly speak other then just small basic words that you’ve mentioned!

  6. Posted by negotiations on

    So ALL NEU members remember this as we start negotiating our collective agreement which expires next August. If the GN can find money for this then they can definitely find money to help us other “lowly” employees get a fair agreement that is more inline with inflation. Don’t let them screw us over like the last round of bargaining where we got almost nothing for the last 5 years.

  7. Posted by fairness on

    Please consider increasing the rate of pay for the support staff. Without these members of the health centre team we would not have a functioning facility.

    • Posted by Lolol on

      No need to paint with a broad brush, but do these support staff get threatened by management when they need to take a day off? Do they provide a specific skill set making them hard to replace? Have they spent years of their lives studying and training to be “support staff”?

  8. Posted by Northman on

    It’s a 2 sided street this act of violence,many nurse say take to Tylenol and come back in the morning.

    • Posted by right on

      Yes, Take Tylenol and come back when it gets worse.

    • Posted by Clarification Needed on

      Mmm, and would you explain to us how in your mind this is ‘violence’?

    • Posted by It’s different here. on

      What is the expectation everytime you go to an overworked understaffed health centre? Honestly, never in my life in all the places I’ve lived have I seen people go to the health centre for every little thing, stomach ache, headache, cough. People flood in over general sickness, you can’t do that down south, you would be sitting in emergency for two days waiting.

      Frankly it’s an absolute luxery you get to see a nurse

  9. Posted by Patrick Star on

    There are many reasons that Nunavut has difficulty staffing and retaining nurses. Pay is certainly one of those reasons. CHN’s have a much bigger scope of practice, more responsibilities, and fewer resources than most nurses. Why would a nurse choose to take that on if the pay in the south is the same or better?

    Yes, there are many other issues that need to be addressed in Nunavut’s health system if they want to retain nurses. However, this change was also necessary.

  10. Posted by True North on

    Benefiting all the southern workers,

    What about the true northerners that live up here? We all need benefits too!

    • Posted by Money for Nothing on

      Do. Work. Get. Paid.

      Getting real tired of these hands out every time someone else gets something up here.

  11. Posted by Long Overdue on

    Let’s all remember what Bill Fennel did for healthcare during his tenure…. Absolutely nothing!!! The GN said jump and he said how high. Rochon has negotiated an MOU which compensates the nurses but ALSO pays an 18k retention bonus to lab techs, X-ray techs, pharmacy techs etc. For years the GN has told licensed healthcare support workers “if you don’t like it, leave”. Remember the “”RN Covid bonus”. I can guarantee that negotiation to include all group 5 healthcare workers was not easy.

    This is only the beginning!

  12. Posted by To Nurses on

    Nurses , it’s not worth it, don’t fall for it. Take your hard earned professional caring where it will be appreciated. You’ll find out the hard way , if you come north to work as a nurse. There are millions of people and places to offer your care in this country, go there , but not north. The problems as well as the government combined with the troubled society will turn you guts.

  13. Posted by UpHer on

    It’s not just the money.
    It’s the screaming and threatening.
    Rankin just lost a key health person with very difficult to replace skills because after multiple 16 hour shifts they were told if they missed the next one they’d be fired.
    In other words, lack of proper staffing levels led to threats.
    Stop the threats.
    To make matters worse, no one above this person can do what they do..
    Yes, it is a down south versus beneficiary situation, but that’s no excuse to put managers in who cannot control themselves nor do the work themselves.
    There thousands of empty positions across Canada’s health care sector and picking fights to show power over local lack of staffing and indigenous training is destroying whatever motives people have for locating to Nunavut and the North.
    If this keeps up Nunavut will have so few qualified people and an inability to recruit it will end the autonomous Territorial status. At some point a Federal government will want control of its funding back to stop the wage and turnover and hostility.
    Nunavut has become so incredibly toxic in most Departments. It’s beyond words.

    • Posted by Snowmaker on

      When accepting a job with the GN the first thing is read the union book. Read it with your supervisor so they understand you understand. In my community often its the locals who lecture to.the community members how to be respectful to our health care workers and thanking the health care workers for thiet service. Its the community leaders who should be enforcing no violence in the work place.

  14. Posted by Prisoner of Nunavut on

    You’re framing this wrong. This is about people who have given years of their life to education, study and practice. “True Northerners” are among them and there is plenty of room for more to join. What is stopping you?

  15. Posted by The science guy. on

    Critical matters that has been impacting our workplace environment!!!

    Lateral violence, workplace harassment, particularly when coupled with disrespect, can have adverse effects on any team’s dynamics.

    Such behaviors creates an atmosphere that not only undermines productivity but also drives away valuable members of our team.

    The toxic environment fostered by these actions can significantly contribute to employee turnover and Individuals subjected to such treatment often feel demoralized, undervalued, and emotionally drained, ultimately leading them to seek alternative work environments.

    It’s crucial for us to acknowledge the impact of these behaviors and collectively strive towards fostering a culture of respect, support, and inclusivity.

    Addressing these issues head-on is a must in retaining our talented workforce and cultivating a workplace where everyone feels valued and can thrive.

    I urge us to take proactive measures to prevent and address these issues, to create a positive and respectful workplaces across Our territory.

  16. Posted by Concerned Nunavummiut on

    Also concerned for the decrease in pay scales in every department by job evaluation. Currently working in a position on a CSA going out to competition but will drop 3 pay scales and im doing 10 times more than when I first started. This is happening across the GN in all departments. There will be many leaving positions to go to non-profit as they are paying well, matching benefits, healthier working environments etc. GN shouldn’t be decreasing pays, especially in the current economy.

  17. Posted by With held on

    the money is nice but I’m still leaving for NU. Most places pay their nurses more than this and there’s less abuse from Mgmt. Mgmt is so disgusting. They work me to death while people with the same job title can’t do the work in their job description. Mgmt protecting placeholders and inflating their staff numbers whild making me do all the work. And senior/higher mgmt can’t get rid of this poison. It’s celebrated or embraced to have staff who cants dot their jobs. When I ask for help I’m just blatantly openly mocked. It’s hard on me but it’s especially not fair for the community. Good riddance! No job is worth this amount of stress

Comments are closed.