Health board chair explains Ottawa move

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to a letter from Bryan Pearson published two weeks ago.


Thank you for caring enough about Baffin health services to send your letter received yesterday regarding your views on the McGill physicians. We agree that we do have a very fine health care program, and we thank you for saying you believe it to be “the best in the world.” We do think the McGill specialists have provided an excellent service over the years, and we wish to publicly thank them for their dedicated commitment to northern people for the past 25 years.

Although we agree that we have attracted some of the best physicians in the world, let me also say that specialist physicians are not the only health care providers who contribute to our excellent services.

It may surprise you to know, for example, that we also have some of the finest family physicians anywhere in the country and that our nursing staff in the hospital and especially in our communities are second to none, and are the single biggest factor in prolonging lives and improving the health of our people.

I think it would be important for you to know that neither newcomers nor the current administration have convinced the board to sever the service in Montreal. The board has been discussing this issue for more than three years, two years longer than the current administration has been in place.

The CEO is directed by the board and only has authority to take care of day-to-day issues and operations in order to meet the objectives established by the board.

Switching services from Montreal to Ottawa is not a decision about which doctors we are choosing it is so much more:

Montreal has become an increasingly unfriendly place for unilingual Inuit;

Services are scattered among nine facilities and hospitals;

It is impossible to provide interpreters for so many sites;

Hotel and ground transportation costs are exorbitant;

Ottawa’s substantial and more organized Inuit community is ready to assist;

The administration and the physicians of Ottawa have been readily available and eager to assist us in our goals rather than their own;

Health services in Montreal are entering a time of great upheaval as the Quebec government only begins to reduce funding and catch up with other southern provinces.
The health board has entered an unprecedented era where change is forced upon us by reduced resources, changing political masters, and the division of the NWT. Our staff have seen their wages and benefits ravaged along with other government employees, and to that extent, morale is very low indeed.

We know that our staff in all aspects of our organization from interpreters, CHRs, social workers, community nurses, lab technicians, X-Ray, pharmacy, housekeeping, to nurses and physicians are the most important assets in our organization, and we want to hold on to every one of them.

Thank you again for your interest in the board’s activities.

Ann Hanson
Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board

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