Government of Nunavut opens isolation hub for medical travellers in Winnipeg

“As of today we have 170 rooms and we hope to have everyone currently on the waiting list in Winnipeg into isolation by early this week”

Although the new medical travel isolation hub in Winnipeg will eliminate the three-week waiting list, Health Minister George Hickes has been working with Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, to develop a medical travel bubble in Winnipeg that could reduce or eliminate the need for a two-week isolation period. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

The Government of Nunavut has opened a new isolation hub in Winnipeg for those travelling for medical reasons.

Previously, the wait for medical travellers to get into the isolation hub in Winnipeg was up to three weeks.

“As of today we have 170 rooms and we hope to have everyone currently on the waiting list in Winnipeg into isolation by early this week,” said Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq at today’s COVID-19 news conference.

Last week’s discussions focused on the possibility of a temporary isolation hub in Iqaluit or Winnipeg.

According to Health Minister George Hickes, locating the medical travel isolation hub outside the territory was always the department’s preference.

Although the new hub was initially set up to to  provide surge capacity for medical travellers, Hickes expects that it will remain open after the waiting list is cleared.

“As medical appointments are continuing to increase as other jurisdictions, including Winnipeg, are starting to have more openings for services, we are anticipating needing that hub probably until the end of the isolation process,” said Hickes.

“We want to make sure that the supports and everything are there for medical travel patients.”

Expanding on this, Hickes also spoke about the development of a medical travel bubble that could possibly reduce or eliminate the need for medical patients to undergo a two-week isolation.

“What we’re looking at are possible ways we can have somebody in medical travel stay within our controlled environment, all the way through,” said Hickes.

“As an example, right now we’ve got people in isolation that may still have follow up appointments. We will work with the medical team to make sure that all PPE [is worn] and [we will] control travel to that appointment and back into the isolation hub so it doesn’t break that isolation.”

Unlike the other hubs, the new isolation hub for medical travellers is run by the Department of Health rather than the Qikiqtaaluk Corp.

At the same time, the construction workers’ isolation hub in Winnipeg has been closed due to a decline in the number of workers staying there.

Workers travelling through Winnipeg will now stay at the general isolation hub.

At the other hubs, while the QC is now responsible for everything the government was previously handling, including intake, resolving issues and providing direction on how to access mental health supports, they will also have three staff at each location, at least one of whom can speak Inuktitut.

The isolation hubs in Edmonton and Ottawa each currently have one Inuktitut speaker, while Winnipeg has two.

Another change taking effect this week is the serving of country food at the isolation hub in Ottawa.

According to Hickes, the goal is to offer the meal replacement three times a week.

The country food program will be expanded to other isolation hubs once the process in Ottawa is streamlined.

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Rumours on

    One interesting point about this ‘medical travelers’ only hub is that it is purportedly alcohol free or a ‘dry hub’. Lots of chatter on bookface about that.

  2. Posted by Let me isolate at home on

    Every other jurisdiction in Canada allows people to isolate at home. This should be permitted in Nunavut. The government cannot afford to spend over $5 million a month on these hubs. The hubs are a major liability given the abuse and nonsense happening in them. The government has no money reserved for this. The solution is home isolation. Learn from the NWT and change to something reasonable – you cannot afford this cost wise or people wise to continue with hubs.

    • Posted by really? on

      So how much do you think it would cost to try to contain and clean-up an outbreak in a community? it takes only 1 person, not following the rules to cause that to happen and I am not even talking about the Human cost, how many would die? how many families destroyed and changed forever? The GN is doing what is necessary to do to keep us safe from this damn sickness as long as possible. yes, the isolation sucks but it is only 14 days and then life resumes as per normal., what a luxury that is considering what is happening every where else on earth!!!

      • Posted by Flawed logic on

        Every other province and territory permit home isolation. Does Nunavut have some sort of new scientific method to determine it should be different? No.

      • Posted by isolate at home on

        are you saying we are not to be trusted to isolate at home then? Most if not all the provinces have some kind of checks for self isolating, surely Nunavut can come up with one. TB is a much bigger problem in Nunavut but Nunavut was not closed. The hotel isolation is not sustainable and as it stands there are way too many loopholes. People are still crammed in the planes with critical workers who dont isolate.

  3. Posted by Embarassing on

    It’s a miracle there’s anywhere for us Nunavummiut to stay after watching some of the freak outs on social media lately

  4. Posted by Why U dum on

    Why are we letting this government take away our rights. We have the freedom, to move freely in Canada. It is in the charter. Yes I know about Covid. But I also know that this emergency was declared because our elected officials told us, we did not have a stock pile of PPE. We need to flatten the curve. Nunavut has done a good job, but has the government improved the stock pile, are they ready?
    I think not, because they are to busy treating people like prisoners. You have had the time to get ready for this, to plan. Instead you do what all governments before you have done, trample on people’s rights because you have not done your job….to prepare Nunavut for these types of Emergencies.
    I demand the premier resign, he has bungled this response.

    • Posted by U dumm too on

      The only reply I have on your post is: you are crazy to actually officially posting this junk. Buy a ticket, fly to the south and just join the other crazy people who believe they are invincible. Your rights are taking away? Don’t fool yourself and don’t complain if, or when friends or family members are getting infected and possible have significant health issues related to this virus, or heaven forbid, die.

      • Posted by Sounds like Stalin on

        In other words: If you want to insist on your Canadian rights leave Nunavut. Do not complain. Do no question. Accept that politicians know what is best. Rights are a convenience only.

    • Posted by Staffing issuss on

      No reports on new staff to use the new ventilators. No reports on increased ppe. No reports on how to expand a 10 bed hospital in iqaluit. No reports on if military would assist. No, focus all efforts on setting up a hotel raquet.

  5. Posted by tax payer on

    Nunavut has the worst over crowding in Canada. People who do not live alone wont be able to self isolate.
    This is a perfect example as to why isolation hubs in Nunavut wont work. It will only take one person who has COVID to break isolation and spread it. How many elders would die from COVID, how many people have scarred lungs from TB, lung cancer ect….. We are a small population. Even if 2% die, it will be devastating to Nunavut.
    Why u dum – you have the right to move around, but you do not have the right to board a plane to come to Nunavut without an authorization letter from the CMO of Nunavut.

    • Posted by If I don’t have a place I get hubd on

      Why should everyone be forced to go to a hub when not everyone lives in overcrowded homes? Why can’t be it established that if you have a place to isolate alone, like the a premiers cabin or an apartment without three generations living there, then you can isolate at home? The rest can isolate in hotels either in hub cities or in Nunavut. This isn’t rocket science. This is the government saying they literally have no intention of playing police and enforcing rules for people in Nunavut. The alternative is to force people into hotel jail at millions of dollars a month. This entire problem is self created by government and nti, underfunded hospitals and medical system and underfunded housing system.

  6. Posted by Discrimination? on

    Medical travel bubble between medical travelers and winnipeg makes no sense unless the doctors are going to the community. Medical travelers probably are the ones that are the most exposed to the virus, they visit the hospital and they are also at that moment not feeling well. I suspect the GN will then have other travelers to pay their own way for isolation prior to coming to Nunavut.

    • Posted by Who Pays on

      Getting Nunavummiut to pay to enter Nunavut, where they have an absolute right as residents to be, is a legally very tricky proposition, which is why individuals paying was reversed.

      Non-residents are a different kettle of fish of course.

      Fully agree about the potential risk from medical travellers.

  7. Posted by Alex Alikashuak on

    This is about the worse virus I hope we never experience again. For the Medical Staff , it must feel like ” Damned if I do , damned if I don’t “. Anyways , I’ve read on facebook how medical patients feel the extreme poor services provided by the Hotel they isolate at, mostly about food. Can someone with the medical services maybe look into that. Secondly, people in isolation have express ” I need money”, can the social services find a way to make sure the patients at least have a bit of money, with no further conseqences to the person in the future. Bad enough they are stuck , even worse if they could barely stomach the food and in the end they are flat broke.

    • Posted by What it really for on

      More money for pop, smokes and junk food.

  8. Posted by emuse on

    This is a public health emergency. A pandemic. When something like this hits, constitutional rights are taken away for the safety and security of everyone. Is it comfortable? No. Is it fun? No. It is not a way of life that most people would choose. But for us to get back to some semblance of what we considered normal, it is necessary to go through this bit of inconvenience. Because that is really all it is. We cannot open Nunavut until Southern Canada gets a grip on things. People cannot self-isolate in their homes, because the majority of the population lives in over-crowded homes. We don’t need another respiratory disease going through our communities, and possibly decimating our population.

    To the people upset about how their constitutional rights are being affected: Everyone is experiencing the same thing. You are not alone. Look to your community for support. See if there is anything you can do in your community to support others. Let’s all try to be kind and supportive of each other during this stressful time.

    • Posted by Why u dum on

      I will never stop talking about my charter rights… never. Has the government improved the health care in this territory since the public health emergency was declared over 150 days ago.? I say no, what they have done is takeaway my charter rights. This government has failed.

      • Posted by emuse on

        Just out of curiosity, what health care improvements would you have expected to see during a public health emergency? In my opinion, I wouldn’t expect to see improvements to general health care because I think resources would be diverted to responding and planning to/for COVID. I am also not sure how you relate improving health care to our current immediate situation where constitutional rights that are currently being restricted due to the health crisis. Would you be willing to expand?
        I also would just like to say that my questions are genuine. I am trying to understand your point of view through discussion, and I mean no offense.

        • Posted by Health improvement on

          Emuse it seems like the entire point of travel restrictions was to allow the government to flatten the curve. This means to prepare and expand Healthcare to deal with covid 19, which isn’t going anywhere.
          The fact that it seems almost nothing in territory has happened or is being reported suggests the government has no plan to improve health care to a point that would allow it to stop violating people’s rights of Mobility.
          The situation is basically the government saying we need to infringe your rights because covid 19 will overwhelm the system. At the same time, they do nothing to ameliorate the deficiencies. That looks like More hospital rooms. More ventilators. More staff capable of operating ventilators. More ppe. Increased law enforcement to ensure quarantine in territory or mask wearing etc.
          Instead, they seem to throw money at hotels instead of fixing the weak link that requires those hotels.

          • Posted by emuse on

            Ah I see. I completely misunderstood your initial comment. This is just my perspective, and I am not in Health, so I could be completely wrong but I assumed that if (when) COVID arrives that any cases requiring hospitalization would be sent to a hospital in the South. The response team did move pretty quickly when there was a suspected case in Pond as well, if I recall correctly.

      • Posted by You so dum on

        For someone that will never stop talking about your Charter rights, you should probably know them better. Please, please directly quote your rights in the Charter that are being violated due to a 2 week quarantine period. Wait, I’ll do it for you because I want you to explain this “violation”. Section 6, Mobility Rights:
        6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
        (2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
        a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
        b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
        (3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to
        a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and
        b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services.
        (4) Subsections (2) and (3) do not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration in a province of conditions of individuals in that province who are socially or economically disadvantaged if the rate of employment in that province is below the rate of employment in Canada.
        There, now explain how quarantine violates this section.

        • Posted by It’s pretty obvious on

          It is pretty obvious that non residents not being permitted to enter Nunavut is a violation. They have no mobility.
          It is also pretty obvious that telling residents that you may not enter the territory without sitting in a designated hotel room for two weeks is also a mobility restriction.
          There are no physical borders in Canada. The Confederation allows Canadians to travel and live freely throughout. Any infringement of that is a violation.
          Rights infringements need to minimally impair to be valid. Every other jurisdiction permits home isolation for this reason – it minimally impairs.
          This issue is before courts across Canada because these are charter violations. It isn’t as if you need a law degree to see how a right is being infringed and that the justification for Nunavut is likely not valid, when the science and every other jurisdiction knows that it is possible to allow residents who can to isolate themselves in territory.

  9. Posted by Medical traveller on

    I’m not one to complain a lot and I’m extremely grateful they opened up a 2nd hub so that we could get home quicker but it’s been quite awful. Yes, because of Covid this is our new reality and I get it but it’s been a very frustrating experience here. I don’t even care about the food, which, by the way is cheap, fake and awful, nor do I care that they take away half my meal and don’t replace it with gluten free options (I’m celiac and requested gluten free). But I have a newborn child and I am a first time parent so doing this alone without family is difficult. We were told the GN would cover the cost baby stuff that we requested (diapers, pads, formula, wipes, etc) which they do. But we’ve been waiting since Friday (5 days) to get the right size pampers and ones for his sensitive skin. Calling down every day is pointless, they say they’ll get them but they don’t. So we are stuck with two sizes too big and poop leaking every where. We filled out the required form for the stuff we needed and they just put it off to the side and give it to other people.
    You also have people who have been here a week and people who have been here a day socializing and playing cards with each other so the whole isolation is a joke. If it sometimes takes 2 weeks to show symptoms then the new person coming in could pass it on to the person who goes home in a week and symptoms may not show up until they are long home.

    • Posted by emuse on

      I am sorry that you are experiencing that. My daughter went through the 2 week quarantine in Winnipeg a couple of months ago, and she had complaints about the food being horrible, and not very nutritious. She did not have the experience you have where people were socializing though. She said that the only time she could leave her room was with security and she was not allowed to interact with any of the others in quarantine whatsoever, so the only time she saw other people from Nunavut (or anyone really) was in coincidental passing when being escorted out of her room for fresh air.
      If you are comfortable with it, I encourage you to let your MLA know about your experience. Hopefully the issues can be addressed, even if not for you, then for future Nunavummiut in quarantine.
      Wishing you and your newborn good health.

      • Posted by Medical Traveller on

        Thank you Emuse, I will do that. Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  10. Posted by Jerry on

    Those out of control drunks sure make it more difficult for the rest in Winnipeg, costing the GN more money, maybe the ones that come from dry communities should not be sent to Winnipeg instead send them to Iqaluit where there is no isolation required.
    It’s embarrassing to see on social media and it gives Inuit a bad reputation when it’s only a few who do stupid things and can’t control themselves.

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