MLAs reignite calls for medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet

Solomon Malliki, Alexander Sammurtok decry Kivalliq medical travel issues

Solomon Malliki and Alexander Sammurtok talk between questions at the Nunavut legislative assembly on Tuesday. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Two MLAs again pressed Health Minister John Main to consider building a medical travel home in Rankin Inlet, during a lengthy exchange in Nunavut’s legislative assembly Tuesday.

Solomon Malliki, who represents the riding of Aivilik, and Alexander Sammurtok, of Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, spent several minutes asking Main about the high number of medical travellers in Kivalliq region who rely on Rankin Inlet’s airport and Kivalliq Health Centre.

“A dedicated boarding home in Rankin Inlet would certainly reduce the strain on travellers,” Malliki said.

The two MLAs said Rankin Inlet’s hotels are frequently full, which creates an added stress for travellers who leave their communities for care but learn their appointments were cancelled at the last minute.

Sammurtok has spoken on the issue several times before, including at the legislature earlier this year.

Main said there were 35,000 medical round trips by people from across Nunavut in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. He’s aware of hotels filling up, but described it as “a relatively new phenomenon.”

Despite these concerns, Main said he’s not convinced there’s a sufficient number of medical travellers yet to require a boarding facility for them in Rankin Inlet.

“If the numbers aren’t there for the medical travellers, then we would be establishing a boarding home — either a every small boarding home, or a boarding home that’s largely going to sit unutilized — and it would be difficult for us to get support,” he said.

However, Main said he will review the numbers and if they tell a different story, that might change.

“If the numbers are there, if the volume of travel is there, I think that would justify us moving to feasibility,” he said.


Share This Story

(22) Comments:

  1. Posted by 😂 on

    😂 same old S$$$ these mla”s ask for

    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      Can I suggest your run next year for your new ideas to be tabled? S$$$

  2. Posted by Mit on

    Put a medical boarding home then watch everyone complain about food and staff at medical boarding home 🤣🤣 you can have your cake and eat it to kivallirmiut

    • Posted by MARS on

      Underrated comment.

  3. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Why should the GN spend millions of dollars for a residence for medical travellers who are simply transitioning through Rankin to go elsewhere for treatment? If they were being treated in Rankin at a regional hospital (like Iqaluit) I could see it but otherwise…. nope!

    • Posted by Impatient Patient on

      Why Not?! There are patients that go to Rankin Inlet for medical as well.

    • Posted by Kivallirmiut on

      Rankin does have a hospital like Iqaluit – it just doesn’t have an OR, but they are able to do day surgeries when the plastics team come in, such as removal of cysts, carpal tunnel syndrome surgeries, etc.

      Every month the hospital here has specialty clinics such as the OBGYN that come in and patients from all over the Kivalliq come in for the clinic, as is their right to have the proper health care that the rest of the country receives at their doorstep

      People like me are left having people stay over, unexpectedly when flights cancel, which is very often. I am left having to pick up the pieces of our community and health department, the GN, not having the means to house medical travel patients and it puts a strain and disrupts our daily lives such as kicking my kid out of their bedroom, at any given time, because I will not let my family or friends be out on the streets. For those with no family or friends, they are left to sleep on the floors of public spaces. How can the higher ups sleep at night knowing that this is occurring????

    • Posted by Hunter on

      Rankin Inlet is the hub in the Kivalliq.

      Every medical travel patient must to travel though Rankin Inlet to get to their appointments in the south. Sometimes flights are cancelled and the hotels are booked up and medical travel patients end up having to find their own accommodation.

      As stated below Rankin Inlet is a regional health facility where specialist fly in and do day surgeries or assessments and follow ups and medical patients fly in to Rankin Inlet to get this done. This method greatly reduces the cost of travel as only a couple people have to fly up to Rankin Inlet to see 50-60 patients in a couple week time frame who would have to travel to Winnipeg for the same medical service and or treatment.

      This way it also stimulates our northern economy. Money is spent in Nunavut and can circulate longer before heading back south. It would create more jobs, Nunavut unemployment rate is still 3 times higher than the national average.

      Nunavut has a major infrastructure deficit that our MLA’s need to work on fixing and not shutting down proposals using stupid reasoning. Look outside the box, it could be a multiple purpose building.

      With the Long Term Elders care facility under construction elders from all over the territory will start getting admitted. Their relatives will fly into Rankin Inlet to go visit them and they wont have a place to stay..

      The time for the Nunavut Government to start thinking and working proactively instead of reacting to horror situations they are creating because of not looking forward to the future.

  4. Posted by Name Withheld on

    GN is already spending a lot keeping the transient open in Churchill Manitoba that is barely utilized since the 90’s. So why not open one in Rankin Inlet? Alot of medivac’s are normally sent to Rankin prior to deciding if they should be sent further to Manitoba.

    Rankin Inlet is very hard at times getting a room, most hotels don’t want to accept medical travellers, Turravvik and Siniktarvik will accept if they have rooms, but Nanuq Lodge and Katimavik will basically tell you right up front that they don’t have any rooms!! Even when they do.

    What was the purpose of building a hospital in Rankin if you aren’t going to utilize the facility? You are still treating it as a health center where you have to call in prior to going there and you are lucky if you reach a nurse on call, when you finally reach one, they ask you to come in an hour or two as they are eating their supper at the moment.

    • Posted by 867 on

      Hotels are private businesses and are well within their right to refuse to accommodate certain individuals. I’m guessing they’ve both had their fair share of lousy medical travel patients in the past and decided to put a plug on it.

      • Posted by Hunter on

        They are not denying because of the individual, they are fully booked 90% of the time.

        When the trade show comes to town or major meetings there is not place for medical travel patients to go if their flights get cancelled because of weather or mechanical issues. so they end up staying at the airport or if they are lucky a friend/relatives couch as most of the houses are already over crowded.

  5. Posted by John K on

    How about we make our sole airline get people where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time instead of spending all this money?

    How many more ways can Canadian North make our lives even more expensive?

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      Sounds , too easy .

    • Posted by Rabble Relaxer on

      Kivalliq region is served by Calm Air.

    • Posted by King Canute on

      Can we make the weather cooperate too?

  6. Posted by hermann kliest on

    Barking up the wrong tree, these ministers have no more ideas, vote them out, at second term, most of them have a feeling of invincibility you turkeys. specially long john silver. constituents; you’re no long needed, the goal for most of them is now how much $$$ after two terms retirement benefit, nothing more nothing less…

  7. Posted by Urban Mama on

    FYI John K. Canadian North doesn’t fly to Winnipeg, MB, this is where all Kivalliqmiut go for their medical needs, ie surgery, The airline for regular medical travel is CalmAir and for medevacs is Kivalliq Air.

    Also, RI is a major hub, ie many meetings or conferences are held there for various organizations and companies. These people fill up the hotel rooms that are available to rent. So if an elder from Baker Lake or Naujaat is making their way to their appointment in Winnipeg and the weather goes out. They are stranded in Rankin Inlet. Currently the medical travel people tell them to find their own billets and they will get paid. This is hard to do when it is 1:00am or 2:00am due to flights being delayed and cancelled by weather.

    This is when they sleep on the floor at the airport in Rankin Inlet. No blankets, no pillows, no food.
    This recently happened but the scenario was Thompson, Man. with returning medical passengers. Apparently the Calm Air agent ( 1 on duty) locked in the office. Made hotel reservations for the airplane crew and ignored all the medical passengers. Didn’t even speak with them, just lying to them saying a make up flight is being prepared.

    Can you imagine, you had a life altering surgery, no more bladder or whatever and then you get to sleep in Thompson’s airport on your way home. It is really pitiful the treatment the medical patients get.

    Hopefully it doesn’t happen too many more times, as it must be stressful for the elders and the new mothers and newborns.

  8. Posted by Hunter on

    Sometimes the GN needs to look outside the box and make a facility that could do two or three things at once. The building could be designated as a medical boarding home but also double as an emergency homeless shelter.

    With the lack of housing and the increased use of Emergency Protection Orders in Rankin Inlet, more and more residents are getting displaced and forced to couch surf. Weather it is an elder have to flee their home because their adult children or grand children are partying for a night, or a mother and kids having to flee their violent father for the night until the situation cools down.

    When all said and done, more and more emergency protection orders are being used to remove people from their homes and have no where to turn and are left to couch surfing.

    If a boarding home is under utilized, then it could be used as a transient facility when people are ordered by the courts not to go home for what ever reason. There could also be mental health and addiction counsellors to help and provide support to people who are suffering for their alcohol abuse.

    Everyone is a member of our community, and for our communities to get stronger and healthier we need to look after and help everyone to break the vicious cycles.

  9. Posted by Confused on

    The minister don’t see it, doesn’t understand or care what we go through, only if he experienced it himself, I’m sure this request to have the boarding home in Rankin Inlet will happen.

  10. Posted by Connect the Territory on

    Build a road from Arviat to Whale Cove to Rankin Inlet. That eliminates 2 stops for sealift barges and at least 1 stop for planes which travel through Rankin to get to Whale Cove anyway, so even with a shuttle you’d get to WC faster and could get there any day of the week. You could put the Whale Cove airport out of service, perhaps with the exception of Medevac, saving a bunch of money. I bet with hydro lines you could even eliminate 2 very expensive diesel generator plants, servicing all 3 communities with a single (larger) plant. I think all 3 of those plants are over 30 years old already, at least according to the most recent QEC annual report I can find. Road maintenance jobs would be created in the local economy. Time to think big.

  11. Posted by Duffman on

    The beer and wine store was and is more important! The cart before the horse way of doing things in the GN.

  12. Posted by Ironically on

    Health minister should fully support a boarding home in Rankin. It is absolutely no different than leasing his second house in his home community to doctors and nurses on a monthly basis. Making money off the GN for his own personal benefit then tops it off with his ministerial salary. Premier needs to shuffle his cabinet to remove Minister John Main and give him another portfolio other than Health, it not conflict of interest?

Comments are closed.