Nunavummiut told to expect health centre closures, service cuts this summer

Health Department spokesperson cites ‘difficulty’ procuring summer relief staff

The Health Department is advising people across Nunavut to be prepared for the possibility their health centre will close or run with reduced services over the summer. Department spokesperson Chris Puglia did not say which communities will be affected, or when. (Photo by David Venn)

By Nunatsiaq News

Health centres in several Nunavut communities will see closures or service reductions this summer.

The territorial Health Department is having “difficulty” shoring up summer relief staff, according to a news release from the department, which points to an ongoing national shortage of health-care professionals.

Health Department spokesperson Chris Puglia did not say which health centres will be affected, or give approximate timelines for closures and service reductions, calling the situation “fluid.”

“It depends on staffing,” he said in an email.

The news release said communities will be notified of health centre closures through radio or social media two weeks before they occur.

A combination of virtual health services, fly-in clinics and paramedic services will be available for communities where a health centre is closed or has reduced services.

“Calls will continue to go to the health centres and be directed to virtual support services,” the release stated.

“Calls may be automatically forwarded to other communities. There may be a delay during this time, but callers are recommended not to hang up.”

People with prescriptions are advised to make sure all refills are taken care of before closures happen, the release noted.

Last summer, two health centres closed for a time and six others operated with reduced services due to the shortage of nurses.

 

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(57) Comments:

  1. Posted by Our new normal? on

    I have little confidence in our Government to resolve the issues underlying this. I am concerned that they are incapable.

    If it is possible to have a larger concern than that, it is that this degradation will become our new normal, and we will just have to get used to it.

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  2. Posted by Hire more staffs on

    Theres lots of locals needing good jobs why not use locals or train them to do some things . Why are the nurse’s even allowed to take vacation when THEY HAVE NOBODY to replace them ?? Nurses and doctors have code of ethics and helping communities is their duties.

    This can be a life or death situation

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    • Posted by Not Surprising on

      Time away for vacation is SO IMPORTANT. The amount of hours healthcare professionals spend working in Nunavut, with limited resources and in undoubtedly very stressful situations, makes the need for a break very necessary. To say otherwise is simply ignorant.

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    • Posted by Your Experience May Vary on

      In our area, it is not nurses ‘taking vacation’, it is nurses at the end of the their contract for whom there are no replacements.

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    • Posted by Iqaluit Mom on

      You do realize that a nurse/doctor who works when they are exhausted is at a greater risk at making mistakes? The GN knows when vacations are going to happen, and should plan for coverage well in advance.
      However, one of the biggest problems is healthcare workers now know the pitfalls of working in remote communities with no back up. Nurses and Doctors want to help, but it has to be in a safe environment as well.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Ummm because they aren’t indentured servants and because if you try to force them to stay they will simply quit and find work elsewhere. As to using local people not sure about you but personally I want my medical professionals to have the appropriate certification and degrees.

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  3. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    We have been advised already.

    Kugluktuk is closed except for emergencies.

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  4. Posted by Pushed out on

    Gee, maybe alienating and pushing out all the long-term and knowledgeable casuals a couple of years back wasn’t a great idea after all! Felt righteous at the time though, didn’t it, directors?

    Nunavut has not kept pace on staff housing (and lost the interest in doing so decades ago), and even the employer (and the union!) treats casuals like unworthy invaders. The pay is not any better now than other jurisdictions in Canada that seek travel nurses, and there is less abuse and better living conditions everywhere else. Nunavut is one of the few places dependent on travel nurses that forces casual nurses to pay rent, when the casual still has to pay their home living expenses too while away.

    This has been brewing a LONG time, but upper management does not listen, and the capable middle managers were squeezed out long ago, and were never replaced with anyone capable.

    It will be hard to find new casual and indeterminate nurses to replace what has been lost. Nunavut used to be a great place to work; difficult, but rewarding. Now after years of endlessly cutting the little things (like extra baggage allowance, salary paid on travel days and the inevitable delays that go along with them) that made the job do-able and made it clear that the employer understood the added challenges that working in Nunavut involves, they wonder why they can’t find anyone capable (or even interested) to kick around any more.

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    • Posted by Iqaluit Mom on

      It isnt just the casuals being treated badly… full time staff are made to feel guilty for not covering sick calls and doing OT. Majority of the nurses are already exhausted, but are given no credit by managers and supervisors. It’s only a certain number of nurses who get their way everytime, and it all depends on being friends with the boss. Management is never held accountable.

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      • Posted by SB on

        Not to mention the government 1) hiring nurses not qualified to do the job required in NU and 2) not provided adequate orientation or training to do sais job.

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      • Posted by nurse on call on

        Nurses dont even bother with OT because HR takes months, if ever, to payout the OT. Once again HR is completely useless and they should all be fired. If you’re not friends with someone at HR good luck ever seeing any OT.

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    • Posted by Casual but capable on

      Thank you for this!! Even the new (but obscenely late) collective agreement doesnt help. I know staff who are casual and pushed out for silly reasons. And there is no benefit to being IND. Casuals who stick around and commit, immerse themselves in community, and LOVE being here arent being assisted. Mortgage in one place, rent in another, pay your own unbelievablely expensive flights. There needs to be more support and less “one man running the show” in communities. Accountability is lacking

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      • Posted by Nunavut on

        Ok
        Bayshore has two more years left to contract with GN
        Also public health managers with Bayshore make $77
        An hour
        While poor money for GN casuals in Public Health
        Maybe terminate Bayshore
        Contract

        Just saying

  5. Posted by Sherlock on

    Seems easy to blame the “ongoing national shortage of health-care professionals”. Although it is certainly a contributing factor, nobody will convince me it is the only reason.

    To name a few:
    1) Lack of child care available to young families
    2) Lack of respect for the expertise of health care providers
    3) Lack of support from managers
    4) Ban on leave requests during Covid
    5) Jail-Hubs
    6) No increase in salary since 2018
    7) …

    I’m not even mentioning housing shortage, as these jobs usually come with it.

    And I can go on and on…

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    • Posted by S on

      Thanks Sherlock, excellent comments; nonetheless major understatement of the real problems

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    • Posted by Holmess on

      10) recording shift differential pay by hand when that can be accomplished with basic payroll software used across hospitals in Canada in 2022
      .
      11) overtime sheets being lost between management and Health HR. Again, this can be done via basic payroll software used across hospitals in Canada in 2022.
      .
      12) management giving preferences on vacation to friends and not honoring seniority.
      .
      13) A union who refuses to challenge any assertion by management that denying leave for jury duty, death in the family, or caretaking an immediate family member, all legitimate leave requests, is denied for “operational requirements”.
      .
      14) random pay clawbacks without notice and without supporting documentation, despite requests for same.
      …..

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  6. Posted by 867 on

    These are the long-term effects of agressively pushing Article 23 and the NTI mandates.

    85% Inuit employment requires 85% of Inuit to take education seriously. No level of “training” can make up for that. Can’t wait to see what Nunavut looks like 20 years from now.

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    • Posted by Maq-Pat on

      Priority hiring Inuit, means trying to hire Inuit first. It is a fair excuse for a SLIGHTLY longer hiring process, it is a poor excuses for failing to hire anyone.

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  7. Posted by Alternatives on

    It’s time for head office staff and management to fill in, just as if there was a strike.
    .
    Hire the NAC nursing students to work during the summer. Some skills are better than no skills.
    .
    For that matter, there may still be some traditional midwives and traditional healers around. Certainly not as skilled as professionally traned individuals, but they succeeded in keeping most people alive when there was no alternative. Fall Back!
    .
    Talk to Doctors Without Borders. Some of their people have undoubtedly seen too many battlefield injuries, and may welcome an opportunity to help in a less stressful environment.
    .
    Cuba has a medical disaster assistance unit of about 1000 people that they deploy around the world as needed. Perhaps they would be willing to help.
    .
    Every doctor in Canada is permitted to start a medical school. Dr. Norman Bethune of Montreal created a medical school in China when he was working there in the 1930s. His was a very intensive program that took in intelligent but illiterate individuals and, in 8 intensive weeks, turned them into battlfield surgeons. Perhaps someone in Nunavut could initiate a somewhat less extreme program.
    .
    Perhaps Nunavut could do something else in healthcare other than use it as a way to subsidize air travel.

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    • Posted by Not quite buying in on

      Would you want a pilot that was not fully trained, but had “some skills”?

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      • Posted by Some Help on

        In an emergency landing situation I’d prefer a pilot with some skills, rather than a pilot with no skills, or no pilot at all.
        .
        You seem to be suggesting that we don’t get sick until there’s a doctor in the community.
        .
        Health living is indeed the best option, but sometimes accidents do happen in spite of our best efforts to avoid them. Then some help might be better than no help.

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      • Posted by Momey money money on

        To “Not Quite”, what are your suggestions?

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        • Posted by I would do this on

          I would have communities form small committees with local elders and others whose purpose was help bridge the cultural gaps between Inuit and non-Inuit, with an emphasis on incorporating nurses into the community, make them feel accepted and show them they are valued.

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    • Posted by Not Enough of the Leadership Have the Skills on

      This is the GN, ‘head office’ and ‘management’ rarely have the skills to do the work of the professional employees they oversee.

      Look at the college or the education system – how many of the managers actually have the qualifications to work in the classroom? Exactly. This is what ‘managerialism’ and the belief that management is a separate skill will get you.

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      • Posted by Bad Management on

        They had some excellent management who had QGH accredited and had the hospital fully staffed but after they drove him out it has been going downhill. There are good managers, just the bad ones don’t like being outshown.

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    • Posted by S on

      Thanks “alternatives”; those are creative and useful comments – some of the best I’ve seen in NN, and far better than any NN “journalism”

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      • Posted by Sarcasm? on

        Hopefully you’re being sarcastic. Bringing Cubans to Canada and employing traditional healers would be an embarrassment to our already laughable health care system

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      • Posted by Get real on

        ‘Alternatives’ comments are completely absurd, sorry.

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    • Posted by Jimmy on

      A few of your suggestions might have merit:

      Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to the federal government if Nunavut begged Cuba for medical assistance?

      It reminds me of the days when Tuktoyaktuk wanted a CBC feed for their local radio station. It didn’t come, so they started re-broadcasting Radio Moscow. That did the trick!

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      • Posted by Dave on

        Considering the GN has roughly 30 times the per capita spending power Cuba does…. it would be embarrassing, but not for the Feds.

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  8. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Meanwhile, a group in Arviat has just been awarded 450 thousand dollars to “study” how racist the health care system is.

    Imagine if that funding was put to something useful, like determining causes and working on real solutions to a serious issue like this?

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    • Posted by Perriwater on

      We’ve been enchanted, intimidated, entranced and coerced by pure spectacle while the world that crumbles around us can only barely be seen.

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    • Posted by nurse on call on

      The medical community is a tight knit community. Word has spread that Nunavut is a crummy place to be a health care professional, so blame covid all you want, but the reality is that this will be the new normal.
      .
      At some health centers you see nurses mopping the floors because the janitors didnt show up for a week straight, at others you see nurses being verbally abused and spit on… but anyway, lets try and prove that our health care system is racist, that will attract more health care professionals to nunavut (not).

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      • Posted by Pork Pie on

        The disconnect between the realities on the ground and the concerns of that privileged class who gate-keep not only the issues we should pay attention to, but the funds to support that work is absolutely surreal.

        To quote the story about this research:

        “… real, long-term cultural safety solutions to things like systemic racism in health-care is to actually have local Inuit provide the services rather than relying on a system where not non-Inuit are being flown in to provide health-care services on a continual basis.”

        There you go, Nunavut, I hope the well-funded grifters who have amplified and feigned grievance on your behalf are ready, because the ball is now literally in your court.

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  9. Posted by Northern bloke on

    A person who is not fully certified ie student is a liability should someone die or be misdiagnosed

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  10. Posted by ChrisT on

    I don’t even begin to understand how this is in any way acceptable.

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  11. Posted by Think About It on

    You can only treat people with so much disdain and abuse and expect them to be grateful for so long. I have been in numerous health centers across Nunavut and have seen nurses that have been screamed at, spit on, and pushed, all while maintaining their professionalism and remaining calm. The nursing profession is a relatively small circle of people, and 30 years ago Nunavut/NWT was an amazing place with amazing people. Nunavut is till an amazing place but the people ( some people ) have become more and more entitled with the world owing them everything. The health care profession relays the working conditions in the North and some I image decide to stay in the South where they are treated better. If you feel that strongly and the lack of health care in Nunavut please fill out an application and start on the career path of becoming a health care professional. Spend 4-8 years studying only to have someone spit on you because you ask them to wait their turn.

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  12. Posted by Dave on

    There is a lot of “buzz” about increasing the number of health services in Nunavut and the more buzz there is, the higher the expectations are. Personally, I don’t see how it is possible at all. In fact, going forward, I think it will become very difficult to maintain existing services, let alone expand them. This is very bad path Nunavut is on, made much worse by the quickly growing population.

    As an old guy, it’s pretty clear to me that staffing is getting harder every year and the GN has developed a reputation as a very poor employer. Meanwhile, every other northern employer is bending over backwards to keep people. Further to that, young people today expect a job “at home” far more than the past and there has never been less interest in starting your career in the north.

    All over the north right now, there is a huge push to “grow your own talent” as the handwriting is on the wall. Recruiting is just going to get much more difficult than today and Nunavut is way behind every other jurisdiction on dealing with this problem.

    I can’t predict the future, but without major change (and change happens sloooow in Nunavut), the future is bleak.

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    • Posted by No Jobs for Nursing Nunavut Graduates on

      There are no entry-level nursing positions in Nunavut. This means that all the graduates from the NAC Nursing program have to leave Nunavut to get jobs. Most then choose to stay down south. Do you blame them?
      .
      If, after getting a few years of nursing experience, they do apply for a nursing job in Nunavut, they are offered a position with no housing. After all, why wouldn’t they want to share a room with 4 of their adult siblings in their parents’ house? Woldn’t you jump at that opportunity?

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      • Posted by Reeality on

        This isn’t true. There are jobs. There are basically no NAC nursing graduates though, at least none who become nurses.

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  13. Posted by Definitely Resolute Bay Again This Summer on

    How is this going to affect the administering of the 4th Covid shots? There’s a wide scale TB outbreak in Pangnirtung. There are about 60 teacher vacancies unfilled for next year with more coming over the summer. The territory is in an extremely dangerous position. Maybe there can be another government retreat to fix this…

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      I think the term you are looking for is “failed state”.

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  14. Posted by Northern Guy on

    So on top of all of this the Governmeny wants to build long- term care facilities in communities so that high-needs elders can move closer to home. Facilities that … you guessed it!… need qualified geriatric nurses and doctors to run. How is that going to happen when the GN can’t even keep the nurses it currently employs?

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    • Posted by Pipedream, NU on

      You hit the nail right on the head Northern Guy. A major shift in attitudes from the bottom up is needed and a major shift in policies from the top down is also needed, and that is simply to staff local health centers, not major instututions such as LTCF’s. Until then, continued worsening failure is bound to happen.

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      • Posted by No Problem on

        Not to worry.
        .
        Everyone with a cough, sore throat, or sore back can be medivaced to Iqaluit and stay in the boarding home until cured by the highly trained staff working at the Qikiqtanni General Hospital.
        .
        See, no problem.

    • Posted by Dave on

      Nailed it.

      I have also noticed pre and post COVID, southern regions are really struggling keeping these facilities staffed. The good facilities my parents were in before they passed, depended on Filipino TFW’s….. who were fantastic to my parents!!

      This is not a high paying job and not that popular as a result.

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      • Posted by iThink on

        Are you catching this bit started by Northern Guy, Corey? This looks like the stuff of a prescient editorial

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  15. Posted by Opportunities Elsewhere on

    The blatant disrespect, vacancies adding to extra work, and overall Nunavut experience is forcing nurses and teachers into other jurisdictions. Going to be a interesting couple of years for this territory.

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  16. Posted by Unreal on

    All of the concerns posted here a 100 % legit and I just HOPE that some of the politicians in the territory read them very carefully. The GN will not sustain at this rate for long. The entire HR system is profoundly corrupted and deliberately works against solving the problem with the nursing shortage. The Feds just announced that they are dropping the vaccination mandate for their work force starting on June 20th (this coming Monday). Some of the provinces have already begged their unvaccinated nurses to return to work an it is only a matter of time that all of the rest, including NU, will follow suit.
    Now get this: A very dedicated indeterminate nurse was just fired in Rankin Inlet for not being vaccinated due to religious reasons. How do you expect to recruit and retain staff when you consistently treat them as dirt? UNREAL, BUT VERY REAL

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