Health board resignation catches Ng by surprise

Deputy premier Goo Arlooktoo wants health board members to “do the right thing” when it comes to deciding how to finance construction of new regional hospital.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT The resignation of the chair of the Baffin health board last week won’t delay the process of building a new regional hospital.

“Our commitment is there to try to bring it on line in as timely a fashion as possible,” said GNWT Health Minister Kelvin Ng.

Baffin Regional Health and Social Service Board chair Ann Hanson stepped down last Friday.

There was no indication when Baffin MLAs and Ng met with Hanson last Thursday in Yellowknife that she was contemplating her resignation. Ng said he thought it had been a productive meeting.

Hanson was in Yellowknife to discuss the board’s position on using private money to finance a new hospital.

“Quite frankly, it was a surprise,” Ng said. “We had a meeting with her and the next day she sent me her letter of resignation. It caught me off guard.”

In her letter, Ng said Hanson “cited the fact the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce had raised some concerns about the competency of the chief executive officer.

“She stood behind her and felt that because they questioned the CEO, they were questioning her as chair as well. She didn’t want to work under those circumstances.”

Last Wednesday the Iqaluit and Baffin Regional Chambers of Commerce issued a joint press release calling on both Ng and Hanson to remove the board’s chief executive officer, Pat Kermeen.

BRCC president Rhoda Arreak said Kermeen is failing to pass on vital information board members need to make informed decisions. That’s one reason board members rejected an offer by Qikiqtaaluk Corporation to finance a new hospital last month, Arreak said.

Prior to her resignation, Hanson said the idea of using Qikiqtaaluk Corp to finance part of the hospital hadn’t been dismissed.

The chambers have since reiterated their request for Kermeen’s dismissal, but Ng said he doesn’t intend to interfere with the board’s responsibilites.

“That’s not for me to say,” Ng said. “It’s a board decision as far as I’m concerned. She’s the board’s CEO and we basically rubber stamp their decisions in hiring and firing.”

Timut Qumukaq, a board member from Igloolik, has stepped in as acting chair. Ng will appoint a new chair after the board submits their recommendation to him, expected sometime in late November.

Deputy Premier Goo Arlooktoo attended last Thursday’s meeting. Baffin MLAs called the meeting because of concerns and confusion over recent health board decisions.

Arlooktoo said Baffin MLAs haven’t lost confidence in the health board, but they do expect members to take a firmer stand about getting information passed on to them from the administration.

“Up to this point, most of the MLAs have allowed the Baffin Regional Health Board to do its job … We realized that it was getting time for us to intervene and see where we could help out. The financing issue was not the least of them.

“I believe it’s important for the health board to start giving signals to QC that their contribution will be welcome.”

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