MLAs reignite calls for medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet
Solomon Malliki, Alexander Sammurtok decry Kivalliq medical travel issues
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.