More details on planned elder care centres to come this fall, says Nunavut minister

B.C. government agency advising GN on possible private partnerships

Partnerships B.C., an agency owned by the Government of British Columbia that provides advice and management expertise for private-public partnerships, is expected to submit a report on elder care to the GN, Health Minister George Hickes told MLAs earlier this week. (Photo by Beth Brown)

By Jim Bell

By this summer, the Government of Nunavut will know more about how it will create badly needed extended-care facilities for elders in each of the territory’s three regions, Health Minister George Hickes has told MLAs.

That’s when Partnerships B.C., a Crown agency owned by the Government of British Columbia that provides advice and management expertise on private-public partnerships, is due to submit a report on elder care to the GN.

“We are looking at this summer of having it completed and coming forward with options to the legislature probably by the fall,” Hickes said on Monday, Feb. 25, in response to a question from Aggu MLA Paul Quassa.

The GN has used Partnerships B.C. in the past. In 2012, Partnerships B.C. oversaw the process that led to the selection of the private consortium that built and now manages the Iqaluit airport complex.

When Quassa asked if Inuit corporations would be involved in any future requests for proposals, Hickes answered by saying the GN will wait for the Partnerships B.C. report.

“I hate saying this, but we are waiting for that report to be done so that we can make educated decisions on our path forward instead of knee-jerk reactions,” Hickes said.

Hickes also said that report “will help tell us of exactly what types of facilities are needed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs.”

Kugluktuk proposal still alive

In response to another question, Hickes said the GN is still looking at an unsolicited proposal that it received from the Hamlet of Kugluktuk in 2017.

Under that proposal, the hamlet would create a 24-bed long-term continuing care centre for elders who need high levels of extended care or who suffer from dementia, at an estimated construction cost of $21.4 million.

The Hamlet of Kugluktuk has already done site preparation work and has set aside $1 million of its own money for the project.

And the GN has not yet said no to Kugluktuk’s idea, Hickes said.

“We are looking in the west, in Kugluktuk, of taking a look at, as has been talked about here in the House many times, the unsolicited proposal that we received from them,” he said.

“We are looking at trying to find a way to make that happen.”

Embassy West cares for 28 Nunavut elders

As for extended, high-level care for elders who suffer from serious health conditions like dementia, there are only 28 beds in Nunavut, divided among three extended-care centres located in Cambridge Bay, Igloolik and Gjoa Haven.

Another 28 elders, many of whom require medical and nursing support, are staying at the Ottawa’s Embassy West centre, which specializes in dementia care.

To pay for their care, Hickes is requesting an additional $4.3 million through the Department of Health’s budget.

Hickes told MLAs that Embassy West is the only such facility in southern Canada that the GN uses, because it’s the only facility that responded to a request for proposals that the territorial government issued several years ago.

“All other beds that are in the territory are utilized for the elders that we can meet the care of. If we can’t meet the needs of anyone in-territory, then we use the Embassy West facility,” Hickes said.

At the same time, the GN deals with continuing concerns about the well-being of elders who live far from home in Ottawa, such as access to interpreters and Inuktitut-speaking staff.

“It’s not a perfect world. I’d be the first to admit it has been challenging hiring interpretive staff. Embassy West has worked very hard with us. They currently have two people working with them and providing interpretive services,” Hickes said on Feb. 21, in response to questions from Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk.

But Nakashuk told Hickes that interpreters are not available at Embassy West after hours.

“The last time we were there, and that was in the summertime, one of the issues that was brought forward was there is no interpreters after hours, from about suppertime until the following morning,” she said.

Hickes responded by saying he will ask his officials to contact Embassy West to talk about hiring additional interpreters.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Colonialism by another Name on

    The P3 “Partnership” for the Iqaluit airport locked the GN into paying very high interest rates for many decades.

    A couple more P3 “Partnerships” like the Iqaluit airport and Nunavut will be bankrupt.

    In the mean time there is no way that individuals in Nunavut can invest in the future of Nunavut.

  2. Posted by Elder on

    Where’s the Inuit Organizations and NTI when it comes to elders needing Elder care facilities. They are getting lots of royalty money from mines. Do they even care about elders?? They can easily come up with a solution to this by building an Elder care Home in each region. They can then set up leases with Nunavut Government who is spending the money outside the Territory at Embassy West.
    Thanks to George

    • Posted by Rankiner on

      these elders that are in the facilities were all part of the planning of Nunavut, yet they get sent away because the inuit orginizations aren’t stepping up and “partnering up” with GN to have them close to home. a lot of these elders are home sick to their families!!

  3. Posted by Elder on

    Where’s the Inuit Organizations and NTI when it comes to elders needing Elder care facilities. They are getting lots of royalty money from mines. Do they even care about elders?? They can easily come up with a solution to this by building an Elder care Home in each region. They can then set up leases with Nunavut Government who is spending the money outside the Territory at Embassy West.
    Thanks George

  4. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Is it too late to buy stock in Partnerships B.C?

    Mr Hickes, do you have any stock in the Company?

    Asking for a Friend…

  5. Posted by NorthStar on

    The Governments and the DIOs are failing elders care in Nunavut. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement negotiations were done with the help of elders, but then we dropped them like hot potatos once the NLCA was signed. Many now have to go out of the terrotory for care, away from family, friends, and familiar environment when these are most needed in their crtical times. Seems to be a need of urgency to address the elder care situation in Nunavut.

  6. Posted by Eva on

    The people of Nunavut should ask for a non-profit Inuit culturally appropriate quality elder facility for each region to prevent elders from being shipped out of Nunavut for every type of ailment. They deserve to be home with families and treated with dignity. After all they are Canadians and they deserve Canadian health benefits at home, just like Canadians health benefits Southern cities. STOP relocating elders from Nunavut. Do you want to be relocated down south? If the answer is no, start talking about it in your communities and inform your MLA’s, they are in their positions because you voted them in. Qujanamiik, if you don’t ask, no action will be taken. You have the power to make positive changes for your elders, be their voice.

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