Kugluktuk mayor pens letter decrying Canadian North service in community

Airline CEO promises to add another flight

Canadian North is promising more flights to Kugluktuk after Mayor Simon Kuliktana wrote a letter to the airline decrying poor service. (File photo by Dustin Patar)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Canadian North is promising more flights through Kugluktuk after the community’s mayor penned an open letter decrying the airline’s service.

On July 19, Mayor Simon Kuliktana wrote to Michael Rodyniuk, the airline’s CEO, demanding more frequent flights.

Kuliktana said his community’s medical travellers often find themselves stranded in Yellowknife when return flights are fully booked.

Currently, Kugluktuk’s Yellowknife and Edmonton-bound flights are mostly multi-stop journeys that take off in Cambridge Bay or Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. Kugluktuk is also often a stop on the northbound return flights to those communities.

“Our population is similar to Cambridge Bay and they get 12 direct flights, as compared to Kugluktuk where we only get six,” Kuliktana said in a July 27 interview.

Cambridge Bay has a population of 1,760, according to census data, while Kugluktuk has a population of about 1,400.

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The number of flights cited by Kuliktana is in line with the schedule Canadian North provides on its website. Kuliktana said the difference has an impact on medical travellers from Kugluktuk who need to go to Yellowknife or Edmonton to receive care.

“A lot of medical appointments [are] cancelled due to a lack of seats,” he said.

“It becomes a regular occurrence where the patient will get a phone call an hour or two before the flight leaves, and that is not acceptable.”

Not only do medical travellers have difficulty leaving the community, Kuliktana said, they also have trouble returning.

He said one resident recently was stuck in Yellowknife for two weeks waiting for a flight home.

“This is costing thousands of dollars in meals and accommodations through the (Nunavut) government’s medical travel department, in my opinion, and this delay impacts the individual themself if they are employed,” Kuliktana said.

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“The management of Canadian North are out of touch with the reality we are facing today, and they’ve got to do a better job.”

In a statement to Nunatsiaq News, Rodyniuk responded to Kuliktana’s complaint, saying the airline plans to add an additional flight to Kugluktuk on Sundays, starting Sept. 10.

“There is a process where demand is reviewed daily and if necessary additional capacity is added to markets to ensure medical travel needs are met,” he said in the email.

Contacted again on Aug. 1, Kuliktana said he had not yet received a direct response from Rodyniuk.

Regarding Rodyniuk’s statement, Kuliktana said he believes the additional flight is actually being offered in response to a previous demand he made last year, along with the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok, to bring more flights to serve the two communities.

“I think that was stemming from previous engagements from Canadian North,” he said.

“I have no confirmation that it stems from my letter, so it is hard for me to make a statement until I get the true facts.”

An airline spokesperson said Rodyniuk is not available for comment this week.

That said, Kuliktana said he welcomes the additional flights, especially if it means families in Kugluktuk and Ulukhaktok will have more options to travel.

However, he said he wants more information from the airline beyond a statement issued to the media.

“To this day, I have not received a response from them yet,” he said.

“If this is the response they are giving me, then they are missing the boat, in my mind.”

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(26) Comments:

  1. Posted by Updoot on

    I wish I could upvote/like this article because I don’t have anything constructive to add that wasn’t already covered by Simon Kuliktana. Everything they say is a 100% agree from this guy.

  2. Posted by tuktuborel on

    I am glad the mayor of Kugluktuk is bringing up issues with Canadian North service for their community. The lack of service is a major issue. Another issue that needs attention is the ever increasing cost of flights and freight costs also. It is really getting out of hand and unaffordable for many. Thanks to the lack of competition we are really paying through the nose.

  3. Posted by Traveler on

    This is good action from the hamlet. It shows that speaking up could make a difference.
    Advising a MLA or mayor can get your voice heard collectively and lead to community fixes. Many use the media but not to MLAs which rarely helps. Way to go to the Kug mayor.

  4. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    great that the MLA is bringing this to the attention….

    great that the Hamlet Administration who wrote the letter on behalf of the Mayor is doing this.

    since the Jet has disappeared from the Kitikmeot Region, it has caused a ripple effect to each Community in the Region. not only have seats dwindled, but good luck getting your baggage on the same flight. be wary of packing food and perishables in your action packers. make sure they are clearly marked frozen.

    and a 30 minute medical trip to Yellowknife or Edmonton. even if you are given advance notice (yeah right, 30 minute notice can you fly out today or tomorrow morning at 7am when you get the call at 4:40 pm). a 30 minute doctors exam, minimum you are gone for 5 to 9 days now.

    • Posted by Simon kuliktana on

      To Northern Inuit, for your information the sao did not write the letter on my behalf, I don’t know where your getting your information from or better yet ask me first if I wrote it before you make assumptions

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        my apologies, good job.

    • Posted by kugmiut on

      our MLA is unheard of .

  5. Posted by 5T $$$$ on

    Crazy new bag fees too:

    Fees in effect after May 1, 2023:
    Unless otherwise stated, fees are in Canadian dollars (CAD) and are inclusive of the minimum (5%) to maximum (15%) tax which may apply, based on your itinerary.

    2nd Bag: $57.50
    3rd Bag: $114.98
    4th & 5th: $114.98
    Animal in Hold (AVIH): $230
    Pet in Cabin, under seat (PETC): $86.25


    Overweight of 51 to 70 lbs: $57.50*
    Overweight of 71 to 100 lbs & oversize: $172.46*

    • Posted by PETC on

      30% increase in pet fees. In lockstep with Air North. More collusion by these scammers.

  6. Posted by Oscar on

    Since the jet so called retired, the air service into Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay has been nothing but CRAP. Passengers, luggage getting bumped all the time, medical stays extended way too long, etc. Canadian North has went down hill big time and they will soon feel the wrath of our frustrations

    • Posted by Jamesie on

      Canadian North won’t experience anybody’s wrath. And they don’t care about people’s complaints. What Canadian North cares about is profit and shareholder dividends. Plain and simple.

  7. Posted by Anon on

    The north needs more politicians like this. Politicians should be able to not only identify real problems that affect their constituents, but also take concrete action.

    Far too often our leaders result to saying “someone should do this” or “it would be nice if we could do this”, instead of actually tackling the issue head-on and holding the greedy to account.

  8. Posted by Barry on

    Complain all you want, but Canadian North has a monopoly and there is no incentive for them to provide better service.

    Unless there is competition or, even better – governments see northern air travel as they do highways and publicly owned ferry service in southern Canada and run it accordingly – nothing will get better.

    • Posted by Lol on

      Competition will never work. There are not enough ‘bona fide’ travelers that are paying out of their own pockets for airfare. I wouldn’t be surprised if 80% of travel on Canadian North is Government contract travel, like Duty Travel and Medical. Unless a competing airline is guaranteed these lucritive contracts out of the gate, there are just far too many unknowns and barriers to entry, that it is unlikely we’ll ever see competition. Add to that, any company that has tried to compete had their literal throats cut by being priced out. The government seems content with the way things are, however chaotic it may appear.

    • Posted by Umingmak on

      BC Ferries connects Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to mainland British Columbia. These are all considered to be a part of the Canadian highway system, and are owned by the government as such.

      Canadian North should be treated the same way. It should be owned and operated by the government, and airfare should ONLY cover the cost of operation. The airline should have zero profit.

      • Posted by Chuck on

        So you suggest an Inuit owned company should not make a profit that goes to the inuit?

        • Posted by Buck on

          You mean that goes to the upper class. When Canadian North executives from Nunavik and Inuvialuit get six figure bonuses it doesn’t trickle down to the regular joes.

  9. Posted by V on

    Good luck with that. I worked with Canadian North for 4 years and we struggled with staffing the entire time. The company doesn’t treat its workers right. No communication, never replace old equipment, refuse to pay what other companies pay. Until they fix all this, the service won’t improve anywhere. Empty promises that they expect the worker to fulfill with no extra pay

  10. Posted by Angry on

    Thank you Simon for speaking up for your community! Why haven’t our MLA’s express their concerns for us yet? Pamela Gross, your constituents have NOT heard nothing from you in months! have you forgotten about us as well? are you too busy fulfilling your deputy Premier position that you have become like the rest of the GN politicians and forgotten that we exist over here in the Kitikmeot Region??


    Imagine your family member is sent out for a medical emergency and more that just one person wants to be with them, it will only cost about 3k to get out to Edmonton (one way) and maybe a 3 week wait for a flight that actually has a seat on it! IMAGINE NOT MAKING IT TO YOUR LOVED ONE IN THEIR FINAL DAYS!

    Don’t even get me started with freight!

    • Posted by Cambridge Resident on

      What MLA? I dont think the current MLA has done anything for our Community. Seems to be MIA most of the time anyways.

    • Posted by Umingmak on

      Pam isn’t the one who approved the merger – that was the Trudeau government.

      • Posted by Angry on

        I didn’t say that she was the one to approve the merger, what I am saying is that she is not voicing any concerns of her constituents.

        When was the last time you saw her in town here in her office? I have not once seen her walk into or out of that office. Pretty sure that the office isn’t even open again today!

  11. Posted by Hunter on

    If Canadian North is not meeting the needs under the GN medical travel contract time the GN reviewed their contract with Canadian North in the west and looked else where.

    I suggest the Department of Health look at setting up chartered flights for medical travel patients in the west out of yellow knife using a different airline.

    One or two chartered flights weekly into the region only for medical travel patients will end up saving the GN money and alleviate the problem.

    This is the only way to get a company with a strangle hold of the business to act…..it has to affect Canadian North’s bottom line and they have to realize they risk losing serious business if they continue the poor service.

    • Posted by Jamesie on

      Hunter, such a setup would require creative thinking by the GN. About as much chance for that as a daily flight from Kug.

      • Posted by Hunter on

        Government of Nunavut needs to be reminded they work for us, the public, the tax payers. Deputy Ministers ADM’s Directors, Manager all need to be put in their place that they work to serve us all.

        And our politicians must hold them accountable for their success and their failures.

    • Posted by lol like when? on

      Ya as if CGS and Health will ever enforce a contract. You’re in a dream world.


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