Nunavut considers incentives for nurses amid shortages and burnout

Territory has 164 nursing vacancies, up by 32 one year ago

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak says he’s looking for ways to make Nunavut a more attractive place for nurses to work. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Nunavut’s health minister says he’s looking at ways to sweeten the deal for contract nurses working in the territory, as burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate a country-wide nursing shortage.

“We have to make our incentives that much better in order to get them to come up,” Lorne Kusugak said.

“We’re asking them to [be] away from their families for [weeks] or months at a time for us, so it’s a struggle.”

On top of offering higher pay or bonuses, Kusugak said other options could be providing vacation travel assistance or supporting nurses in bringing their families up North with them.

“We have to think outside the box.”

Making sure nurses have access to more after-work activities, for example, could help create a better work-life balance, he said.

The new health centre in Kinngait has a fitness centre, coffee room and shower for staff to use.

“I really hope [we] continue to build bigger, better health centres and that, in turn, will help retain and recruit nursing staff because they have a better facility to work in,” Kusugak said.

In the small communities, nurses tend to be unofficially on call around the clock, which can lead to burnout.

“Down south, you could get off work and go to the park and relax or go to a gym and interact with people in areas where nobody knows who you are,” he said. “We don’t have that luxury here.”

Many nurses from Nunavut aren’t working in the industry “for their own, very understandable reasons,” including always being on-call in their communities, especially when they are caring for family and community members, Kusugak said.

“It’s a challenge for us to try to get them back into the health centres and get them back into the profession they trained for.”

When asked whether Nunavut-based nurses get the same signing bonuses and other perks short-term southern nurses get, Kusugak said “we’re not offering them any less.”

Bayshore, the company that recruits nurses to work in Nunavut, declined to say how much its nurses are paid or what kind of signing or retention bonuses are offered.

Job descriptions on the company’s website include fully paid travel assignments, “highly competitive” wages, four to six-week placements, a benefits package and annual bonuses.

If a nurse is hired from southern Canada and wants to come to Nunavut, a lack of housing for health staff is another challenge that arises in many communities.

As of Aug. 31, the territory had 32 fewer nurses on staff than it had a year ago, with 164 vacancies, up from 132, said Danarae Sommerville, a Health Department spokesperson.

As of Tuesday, three nursing stations, in Igloolik, Gjoa Haven and Sanikiluaq, are only offering emergency services due to staff shortages, she said.

During the recent sitting of the legislature, John Main, the MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, asked David Akeeagok, the minister of human resources, how many units the department is short to fill vacant health positions across the territory.

David Akeeagok is the minister for human resources. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

Akeeagok said staff housing is “very limited” overall, but the department doesn’t track vacancies by department.

In response, Main said, “it’s very troubling to hear our government is struggling to provide these very important professionals with staff housing.”

“These are people who we rely on to save lives.”

Akeeagok said health staff are at the top of the priority list and “typically” get housing first when it becomes available.

Main also asked Akeeagok to commit to paying health-care professionals competitive wages to make Nunavut an attractive place to work.

Akeeagok said that work is underway, but “we are in the middle of our collective agreement negotiations” with the Nunavut Employees Union, which represents the territory’s staff nurses.

The current collective agreement expired three years ago, in September 2018, so wages haven’t gone up since that time.

When Main asked Akeeagok another question about the negotiations on Sept. 14, he said he encourages the union to “get back to the table.”

Negotiations have been held up since the NEU sued the GN in 2020 for bargaining in bad faith after a mistake was made in calculating potential increases in the Nunavut northern allowance benefit.

“They don’t want to sit with us until that court case is done,” Akeeagok said. “That has dragged on far too long.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Bill Fennell, the president of the NEU, said the GN isn’t participating in negotiations and they’re the ones waiting.

“They won’t even come to the table to negotiate,” Fennell said.

“There’s been no economic increase, there’s been no change in working conditions,” he said. “It’s three years, this is ridiculous.”

A prominent concern Fennell hears from nurses, he said, is workplace conflicts.

“There’s a lot of competition between colleagues and there’s a lot of toxic managers.”

Fennell said with nurses being in high demand across the country, health employees can easily get a job elsewhere instead of staying in a toxic environment.

“There seems to be a lot of racism as well to visible minorities.”

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(73) Comments:

  1. Posted by Where did all the nurses go? on

    “… there’s a lot of toxic managers”

    Yes, there are! And yet they remain and are allowed to keep doing what they do, even with documented complaints that go very high up the chain and corroborated by multiple people. People with too little experience are given too much power, and it’s not just the managers in the health centres, it’s the ones higher up who are made directors when down south they probably wouldn’t even be team leaders on a unit. Directors on a power trip are part of the downward spiral of disappearing nurses. The revolving door is not even revolving any more, it has almost run out of willing nurses to chew up and spit out. Why these toxic managers are protected from any consequences of their mismanagement and maltreatment of nurses is a mystery.

    • Posted by anonymous on

      I agree with you as I see this happening everywhere in work places. True, once a person gets a higher position at HC, as I seen this happen where the nurses left on account of the individual. Yes, complaints have been launched but nothing been done about it -same for other departments.

    • Posted by Kell on

      Because of apathy, inertia and incompetence.

      Look at the failing grade delivered in the auditors report for the department of justice, the same kinds of problems. I am sure it is no different throughout all the GN.

      If the government were serious they would do an independent internal audit and act on what they found.

      I have no confidence, however, that they are serious about these issues or that they will do a single thing about them. No one does.

    • Posted by Yup. on

      Can I have the mandatory leave to care for my sick dependent? Denied, it’s an emergency. Can I have my annual? You can have January 10-20 but my friend can have the month of July. Can I leave Nunavut? For leisure you can’t leave without isolating for two weeks on your vacation, but if a new nurse is coming up they can skip the hub. Hey this doctor went berserk and is unstable and it’s not safe for patients? There there dear, the chief doctor will do something. Hey I am not getting paid my OT I submitted? Oh I know you said that to me 100000 times but someone at HR ‘lost’ your form.
      This is what people tell prospective nurses when they ask about working in Nunavut.

      • Posted by Do as I say not as I do on

        I heard the directors got their vacation leave though! Even in the summer of 2020, when there was supposed to be almost no movement in and out of the territory. They didn’t manage to sneak out unnoticed …

        • Posted by Insider on

          Yes the Deputy Minister secured “essential worker” exemptions for directors and senior management to enjoy some time off in the summer while the working staff had their vacations cancelled in 2020. Kind of like how the Premier secured an exemption to fly his seaplane back that same summer I think.

  2. Posted by Just an LPN on

    What about the Contract LPN. I personally have been here 2 years and worked on the Frontline during Covid. Vaccine and swabbing 7 days a week only to watch RNs who never left their desks to help get 10k for simply being RNs indeterminate. It was the biggest insult. I want to make Nunavut my home but was left feeling unappreciated . Yes I am a Contract LPN who never ran home when the going got tough. I put myself out there because of the need 7 days a week and felt good about my contributions until I was insulted and left feeling unappreciated

    • Posted by Anonymous on

      I fully agree. Trying to file a harrassment claim and getting walls up. Almost like the directors are being protected with no accountability or checks and balances. Too much power given to one or 2 people. Good people leave and the “friends” get all the benefits, even if that means unfair treatment.

    • Posted by Upgrade Time on

      So….the lesson here is that it is time to upgrade professional qualifications – it seems to have more than enough benefits to make it worthwhile.

    • Posted by Overworked and unappreciated on

      How does this even make sense? And not to mention all the other hard working individuals who worked endlessly throughout COVID in the hospital that haven’t even received a “thank you.” Then when you go seeking support from your union (NEU) they say they can’t do anything for you. It’s a broken system.

    • Posted by Frontline support on

      Completely agree.
      Emphasis is always on nurses.
      How about non-nursing staff? What about front desk staff, Clerk Interpreters? Housekeepers? Drivers? etc.
      If they were not there who would have supported these nurses?

      Support staff who are first contact between patients and nurses are ALWAYS OVERLOOKED. It is extremely unfair and surely insulting!

      Everyone is working tirelessly around the clock but only nurses “get thanked”.
      Support staff make 3-4 times less than nurses and often struggle financially as it is but GN do not care about them. It’s ridiculous and absolutely disgusting.

      Kusugak said, “We have to think outside the box.” He doesn’t know which box.

      Shame on you GN!

  3. Posted by Harold on

    Collective agreements tend to help

  4. Posted by Lol Minister on

    This guy has no idea what goes on in this Department. If made a call for anonymous reports from nurses they’d get an earful. It all stems from the top, and the Minister should seriously consider looking for a new ADM of operations.

    • Posted by northerner on

      Nunatsiaq, I beg of you to ask nurses what is really going on in their place of work. several times while being seen by a Dr at the clinic here in Iqaluit, I have seen nurses crying over toxic managers. I always wonder how bad is it that employees are crying while at work, these are grown women and men.
      one time I witnessed a Dr yelling at a nurse right in the hallway!

      something has to be done!

  5. Posted by Interesting Times on

    1. Mr. Premier, it’s time to put your big boy pants on, get to the negotiating table, and keep everyone there until an agreement is reached.
    2. With regard to attracting and retaining nurses, how about asking the nurses what they want?
    3. With all those vacant nursing positions the GN should have lots of vacant staff housing. Where did it go?
    4. Can you imagine holding an election while GN employees are on strike?
    5. What promises will the candidates make during a strike? How will the incumbants explain the failure of their government to reach an agreement for 3 years?

  6. Posted by S on

    Is Kusugak a minister even though he isn’t an MLA?

  7. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I wanted to say that I don’t think that the Minister of Health gets it, but judging by his statement ““We have to think outside the box.” he really doesn’t have a clue.
    At the very least Nunavut is competing with every jurisdiction in North America for a nurse. Especially during this pandemic any nurse is worth his or her weight in gold.
    And the GN can’t even provide staff housing for them in some of the communities? Shameful. And 3 years without a contract? That’s not bad faith bargaining, it’s criminal.
    And where are all the Inuit nurses working in their home communities? Home grown nurses should have been on the agenda as a priority from 1999 with full support from the GN and every RIO.
    Heck you could have made course specific streams in high school to prepare the students for nursing, dental techs, medical techs, and then given them full support through college courses and practical experience.
    Anyone who completes the course and works in their field in their home community, or any Nunavut community gets their own subsidized house. Plus a great salary and bonuses.
    GN get your act together. I know that you would rather make lawyers than medical professionals, but seriously would you rather have another lawyer today or another nurse?
    Time for the federal government to step in and run the territory before things get any worse.

    • Posted by Meh on

      The problem of educating Inuit professionals is complex. There was a report recently that indicates that the nursing programs over years and years have only seen a handful of graduates. Any Inuit with a university degree, of which there are less than 100, would never work as a nurse for long. They are fasttracked to executive positions like ADM. Inuit frankly just don’t apply for nursing positions. Why would you when you can make $100k answering phones with grade 12?

    • Posted by Concerning on

      3 years without a contract because someone screwed up in their calculations ? On the staff housing, it would appear that the allocation committee might have struggled to make the tough decisions that were necessary when staff and social housing is in limited supply . Give to all and now we have nothing and the cycle continues.

      • Posted by teachers on

        No contract for Nurses now for 3 years, yet the teachers contract expired in 2021 and within 6 months had a new contract. Clear to see where their priorities lie.

        • Posted by Candace on

          Very different situations. The teachers have their own bargaining unit, and the union and employer only have to deal with issues that are relevant to teachers. Makes for much easier bargaining.

          The nurses are part of the GN NEU bargaining unit, along with almost every other GN employee, including correctional workers, admin staff, program officers, finance, social workers etc…makes for a much more complex bargaining situation.

    • Posted by josywales on

      Completely agree with your thinking. Is the GN even capable of thinking “outside of a box”? That’s a big stretch. Also agree that some DM (most?) have been sitting too long in their office chairs, time to think outside of the box and get rid of them and hire professionals.

  8. Posted by Shortage on

    Nurses are the true unsung heroes of the North. To become a nurse requires 4 to 6 years of intensive training, and then going to work long grueling hours in the north is not an easy feat.

    Unlike down south, nurses in Nunavut have to fear for their safety and are often victims of verbal and even sometimes physical abuse. No dollar amount or incentive will make up for that.

    The shortage is sad, but you can’t force anyone to work if they don’t want to. It’s sad that barely any Nunavummiut want to become nurses because it is such an important part of the community, but when you look at vacancies everywhere in Canada, why would a nurse pick Nunavut over Newfoundland?

  9. Posted by S on

    THE most fascinating concept in Canadian government is that those appointed as ministers, including Premiers and Prime Ministers have zero ability to perform their jobs. That is indisputable

    The ONLY ‘skills’ they bring to their workplace are a willingness and commitment for self-promotion

  10. Posted by Is that you talking… on

    Quebec just announced a plan to spend $1 Billion to fill 4,300 nursing positions…so good luck with that box you plan to think outside of.

    • Posted by Outside the Box on

      How’s this: “Are you tired of working with COVID-19? Come live and work in a community where there’s no COVID.”

      • Posted by Outside the Outside on

        How about “it is so remote and isolated that there is no covid most of the time, but when there is we have some of the worst per capita rates in Canada because a great deal of adults in Nunavut refuse to vaccinate”. Yes, I’m sure it’ll work. Do you work for the Minister?

  11. Posted by articrick on

    Future is looking grim for NU, govt has been a failing grade since 99 yet we recycle the same people in govt to continue this downward spiral. Even if they somehow continue to keep their jobs after weak performance reviews that are no secret. It’s not time to think out of the box but it’s time to replace the box.

  12. Posted by Boni on

    To renew your license in the south with CNO, it cost about $300. Nunavut licensure cost 3 times higher. I find this ridiculous. I renewed my license last year with the intention of coming this 2021 on a few weeks contract. However, the nursing agencies pay rate was nothing attractive to leave south for Nunavut. Leaving the comfort of your home and the environment to the middle of know where is a great sacrifice. The board of nursing in Nunavut should reconsider. $1000 for licensure renewal is +++ ridiculous. And the Staffing agency should as well do better.

    • Posted by Uhhhh…. on

      You know Department of Health will reimburse that expense if you come to work, right?

  13. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    It is of course difficult in all jurisdictions to hire and retain nurses and other health staff for that matter. In Nunavut I often wonder why any nurse would want to work here. People in general are so abusive to nurses in person and on social media. It’s no wonder they leave or don’t come up at all. Teaching is another problem area. We are still short teachers all over Nunavut and in the trades there are so few Inuit who can get jobs in the trades because they don’t have the education and training to get those jobs in construction, the mines etc….. And yet people continue to bitch and complain about southerners getting the jobs and every time someone can’t give them what they want because they don’t have the credentials they are calling for their heads in the media or social media. The fact of the matter is Nunavut has a very tiny population in the grand scheme of things. We are not going to be pumping out doctors and lawyers and teachers and nurses and electricians and carpenters and plumbers left right and centre. If anything it will be a trickle. There’s a very small portion of the population that is even capable of going into those careers and with the social assistance net being what it is there is no incentive to improve one’s lot. Begging and searching for the next handout has become a profession. We are in crisis mode and it’s going to get much worse. We will need to attract people to Nunavut and stop treating them like s__t! when they are here. Posting pictures of the land and animals etc…. is not going to do it because they almost never get to enjoy those things anyway.

  14. Posted by Astonished on

    NWT was the best , Nu nothing but downhill for every political decisions
    Made for betterment of man . May god be with the people.

  15. Posted by OverThis on

    Give incentives to locally hired nurses and more locals would go to school to be nurses. Why can’t the Government see that? They keep offering more and more to non residents so the gap widens. It’s the same for teachers, managers, directors. Priorities have to change to stop in the influx of non Northerners taking the jobs that were intended for locals.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      it is not that simple. yes there are people that could do it, however overcrowding while growing up, having kids young, struggling to finish high school (not enough Inuk teachers and social passing), having to leave your family without support for furthering your education is all part of it. and then they would still have to deal with the biases from southern staff that come to make a buck and dont respect Inuit.
      So when you can get a 80K job and not have to graduate even high school and leave your family or have the same stress as a Nurse or teacher would have why?

      • Posted by Xeno on

        “There seems to be a lot of racism as well to visible minorities.”

        Complaints about ‘non-residents’ and ‘non-Inuks taking our jobs’ and whatever else really casts a light on the animus at the core of this quote. That is, the perpetual sense of grievance against ‘outsiders’ and ‘the other’ that runs not just through the GN, but through our entire society.

        In a very real way this is the dynamo that is, at least in part, driving much of the toxicity and misery in the departments that rely most on people from outside the territory.

        Granted, as others have shown, it is not the entire picture.

        • Posted by Mark on

          I too have experienced this first hand. Being treated badly just for not being from here and the GN allows it. Shameful bigotry in this Territory makes is very unwelcoming.

          • Posted by Intercultural Communication on

            It’s true, but we also need to understand that the success of relationships between migrants from the south and Inuit is one built on reciprocity and mutual respect. It’s not enough for us (southerners) to expect fair treatment and understanding, yet not concern ourselves with our understandings of the people of the north.

            With that in mind a strong program of cultural orientation should be a must for any professional coming north. I am aware that the GN offers these from time to time, and perhaps they are required at health, I don’t know. Yet even here, the relationship and dialogue should run both ways as well. Southerners have their own values and experiences and it would be equally helpful for Inuit to learn those too. The better we can understand and respect each other the better it will be for all of us, and for Nunavut.

            • Posted by IQ values on

              Please enlighten us on how “southerners” are supposed to reciprocate feelings on staff that works 1 day a week with no form of disciplinary action? Maybe we finally are by “going home”, enjoy your staff shortage and the chaos it causes.

    • Posted by Oh really? on

      “Give incentives to locally hired nurses and more locals would go to school to be nurses.”

      Shame that experience has shown this isn’t the case. There’s been priority hiring for Inuit for what’s approaching decades now: have a postsecondary degree and you’re pretty much guaranteed your choice of job with the possibility of rapid advancement. Oddly enough, despite knowing this, high school graduation rates in Nunavut are still abysmal. There are a lot of reasons for this, but assuming that simply waving a magic wand and declaring more benefits will result in people showing up isn’t a solution, because it hasn’t been a solution.

  16. Posted by Name withheld on

    Someone has to clean up the Directors list in IQ and RI to keep these nurses here

  17. Posted by fed up on

    The GN is a miserable place to work for a southerner, especially in the small communities. Most people hired with an education and work experience carry the workload of several positions, filled by people who do nothing but collect a paycheck. The leaders are promoted based on how long they’ve been with the organization, not how good they are at their job. There are no performance bonuses and no recognition for hard work. Consultants are paid more and treated better than GN’s own staff. All of us have families down south that we had to leave permanently (unlike rotation workers or those who work remotely). If the GN give incentives to nurses, there better be incentives for the rest of us!!!

    • Posted by Consistency on

      Perhaps the reason you dont get treated well is that you dont see yourself as part of the community. Like you said your family is down south and you had to leave them. If you are taking a job up here why not do what people do when they get a job in a new place… Move your family up here to. have your kids in school, join the teams, play with the other kids. Make this your home. Instead of being sad you left your family and continuing to let everyone you meet know that this is not your home and that you dont want to be here. If you wanted to be here you would also want your family to be here. I also dont think the GN should pay employees that quit their job with relocation fees (yes pay to get people here but not to leave), unless they pay everyone to quit, that includes those that live here.
      But i do agree that the GN treats Contract workers better then permanent staff. I see the need for contract workers but how about pay them southern rates since they have southern bills.

      • Posted by There Is No Sense on

        Ummm, the deep and wide-spread xenophobia among beneficiary Nunavummiut is a turn off, that’s why. I have never seen anywhere so insular and bigoted against other ethnicities. It permeates all of society and people are not shy about saying “We don’t want you here”.

        It doesn’t take long for a person to decide not inflict that on their kids.

      • Posted by and live where on

        there’s no housing for me, where are my husband and kids going to live. you made a very ignorant comment

    • Posted by Bullying on

      I have to agree with this. There is no more toxic workplace then the GN. Anyone non beneficiary will never get a non casual job, unless you are director level. The casual staff then ends up having to pick up the slack for the indeterminate locals who show up 20 to 30% of the time. I have worked in a couple of GN offices and have seen the hatred and racism directed at out of territory workers. “We hire too many white people’, ‘we need to hire only locals”, and other bigotry from the locals who work a day or two a week but still seem to keep a job. What is the point to brag about such high Inuit employement levels when most departments are struggling to function on the ‘hated white southerners”.

      It is no small wonder why so many Nurses, Teachers, and other positions are sitting vacant for years. There is a breaking point where no amount of pay is worth the harassment, and hatred you face from people who don’t want you in this territory.

      For those saying you get what you put into it are full of BS, look in the mirror and see who is to blame.

  18. Posted by More toxic than by grade 12 boyfriend on

    “There’s a lot of competition between colleagues and there’s a lot of toxic managers.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement to my core.

    Over the past 9 years as an RN I have worked for two different health authorities, the GN being my 3rd. I have never seen leadership as toxic as it is up here. I have personally seen senior management/ leadership abuse their positions of power in more than one way. I can not fathom how some of these individuals have ended up in these leadership rolls. Makes it hard to want to stay.

    I have been working up here since April on CSA’s, I was here at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak. I swabbed, contact traced and vaccinated. I worked 6 days a week for over 2 months.
    ***Recently indeterminant nurses received 10g for their service during the covid-19 outbreak. What did casuals get … ZIP.

    My favorite part of this was the EMAIL that went out in regards to the 10k bonuses for indeterminate nurses from the ADM ” I hope this encourages casual nurses to apply for indeterminant positions in the future”… lol what a JOKE. There has not been one indeterminant job posted since I have been here.

    Why would you want to work as a casual when you have senior management like this running the ship.

    The only reason I have stayed here is the amazing team of coworkers, and my current manager that I work for make it worth it.

    • Posted by Not to take away from nurses on

      I know we are a little voice, but we are important too…The fact that the nurses(and not even all of the them) were the only ones that received that $10000 bonus for working during COVID is absolute ridiculousness. There are so many people that make up a health care team and all those other members got overlooked. It’s not even the monetary portion that is enraging. It’s the fact that so many educated, licensed staff members of that “team” worked endless to fight COVID(and well before COVID) and weren’t even acknowledged. The support staff are about to crumble and no one seems to even know they exist. There are so many issues and the union only shows support for the nurses. Things need to change. But how if it takes three years to bargain an agreement? They need a union and a government that will support them. And yet, they can’t even get over their politics to sit down and have a conversation. The Teachers association was able to come to terms within a couple months. Healthcare needs focus.

      • Posted by Stop the Divisiob on

        I have heard there is a petition circulating and protesting how the RNs received a bonus. You are focusing on the wrong thing. Everyone deserved a pay raise for the hazard, and everyone needs a raise for retention and well because we (GN) are all making 10% less every year because NEU can’t get an agreement in place. Stop making this an issue between workers but instead a complaint to the employer about undervaluing team members. They will never give bonuses again if groups single out how unfair it was for one and not others to get it. Feel under compensated? Some doctors earn over $2 million per year in Nunavut.

      • Posted by Agree with you! on

        You are absolutely right. I was with support staff 6-7 days a week working over time. That’s another huge heartbreak. The divers, admin, cleaning staff, lab… the list goes on and on and on. They were the glue to the whole covid response operation and this covid response could have NOT been done without them.

        I worked closely with support staff that started and fished ever shift with them – assisting with PPE protection, safety when transferring the swab, driving (knowing every location saving time)… this could have NEVER been done without them.

        I was so disappointed with the GN on so many levels but this last week was the icing on the cake. All individuals that were involved in this response need to be acknowledged … not with a pizza … not with a radio announcement … with equal respect/ pay. This covid response was a team effort.

        The GN is wild…

        • Posted by Former Insider on

          Yes. This situation is an indication of total management failure, starting at the very top.
          MLAs are about to be elected.
          Nunavummiut, ignore the promises the candidates make. When have those elected ever kept their promises?
          Ignore the positions the candidates have held.
          Instead, pay attention to what those candidates have accomplished. Nunavut needs leaders who have shown they can lead succesfully.
          Those new MLAs will have to elect a Cabinet.
          Nunavut needs a Cabinet consisting of people who can inspire workers, who can distinguish between employees who are capable and those who are bs artists, who can make changes and who can teach others to be better than they thought they could be.
          It’s either that, or we continue along the downward spiral.

  19. Posted by Sam McKenzie on

    Yup. Benificiaries can do anything they want. That is live in a world of self entitlement
    driven by the knowledge that there is no blow back. They dont even drive cabs,

  20. Posted by Soothsayer on

    It’s good to acknowledge the need for a work life balance, but the extent to which we can ever entice nurses from outside Nunavut based on amenities is and will probably always be limited.

    Also, incentives can work to an extent. You can always get people to take a chance to come up if the package is sweet enough. But maybe there are other things to consider here too. What are the strengths we have to draw people north? If done well, the cultural exchange might be one. Many southerners who do come north are adventurous and curious people, it’s hard to imagine anyone in a high demand field like nursing, where one could work almost anywhere, deliberately choosing a place as challenging as Nunavut, without being drawn by a sense of adventure, or even a desire for unusual and out of the ordinary experience. This is a demographic we should aim to capture, and is one we are most likely over the long term to retain (if we are serious about retaining at all).

  21. Posted by We’re Leaving on

    My husband and I work for the GN and earn a fair salary for our occupation, however it is not enough for a home in Iqaluit. Each year we put our name in the hat (for a fee) and each year only NorthView is the winner year after year. We are priced out of the resale market unless we want to buy for $500,000, a matchbox house built in 1950. Each year, both the territorial and municipal government allow Northview and its peers to accumulate most of the yearly property allotments. To rub salt in all of that, we can not get the GN to fix our apartment’s windows and doors that blow in freezing wind all winter while our barely functioning heating system struggles to keep temperatures above 18 degrees and we just learned about the government building BRAND NEW HOMES FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS. We pay the tax and they get the brand new housing for free! Goodbye Nunavut, you deserve the politicians you elected.

    • Posted by Northfail on

      Yes Northview is a monopoly and is now a billion dollar company as a direct result of the GN’s housing “shortage”. Northview knows the GN is a cash cow, and milks it for every single dime. Northview does not maintain their units, they wait til they either burn down or get in such a bad state of disrepair that they completely redo the interior, and rent it out again to the GN. There are dozens of empty apartment’s rented by the GN owned by Northview, that have sat empty for YEARS. All being held awaiting GN staff to be hired. It creates a falsely over inflated housing shortage, that completely prevents the average person from ever finding a place to live, if they can even afford to rent it.

      There is a big story on CBC about the Northview rental scam, sadly they didn’t touch on Nunavut very much at all. However they talk about how Northview is getting rich off the North, and not investing the money back here. It all gets paid out to shareholders instead of maintaining and fixing properties here. Northview is the biggest slumlord in the North, next to True North Properties, who also gets rich off buildings that would not pass any type of building code.

  22. Posted by Casual GN Staff on

    Very sad that the GN does not care about the Casual staffs in all of there departments. The indeterminate can stay home and not show up to work and still get treated specially . The Nurses might just go on strike and see if this community would survive without the dedicated Nurses who constantly are subjected to verbal abuse by patients .
    Same thing happening in the department of justice . Take for instance putting out the names of Correctional Officers out in an article in this very small community. They have constantly put lives of staffs in danger by the breach of privacy.
    Why wasn’t any inmate name mentioned ? Why just the staffs ? I hope they actually get sued by those staffs and also get union involve .
    It is high time Government of Nunavut start putting people who are highly educated in there directors roles. Most of them are just power tripping.
    I hope the staffs at Correctional center actually take the bold step and just go on strike for a week .
    Thanks to all he nurses for all the great work you are doing regardless of how this government has treated you .
    You are the real hero!

    • Posted by Gonna Hero Elsewhere on

      I liked hearing thanks and gratitude but I can get paid on time, get some respect from my employer, and be thanked in Yellowknife and Whitehorse for more pay. I can buy a house too and actually have time off to enjoy. Bye bye Iqaluit and GN – keep promoting toxic managers who are known to sleep in their office drunk on weekends to director positions. We had the hospital fully staffed with indeterminate RNs and after the CEO left the place just fell apart in 18 months.

    • Posted by Nurse supporter on

      Yes the Nurses deserve way more appreciation then they get from Lorne and all the other people at Management levels who do absolutely nothing to fix this crisis. Lorne is all talk and no action, this crisis has been years in the making, COVID just is what caused the extra burnout. The GN depends on casual staff to function, even nurses are casual which is nuts. And every casual employee is treated like they are garbage, even being threatened with non renewal if they don’t work “overtime”.

      Knowing that there are casual nurses who work 6 days a week 12 and 14 hours day with such thankless bosses is appalling. Absolutely no amount of money or bonuses will help with staff retention if you keep treating them this way Lorne. You need to acknowledge you have created this problem, and aren’t doing enough to help fix it.

      Why is it that only teachers get any degree of action from the GN? Their contract was renewed within the same year, yet GN staff are about to enter their 4th year without a contract. Maybe it’s time to the NEU to take action and mandate strike action. Our nurses work so hard, and deserve better!

      • Posted by More please? on

        Sincere question; how did Lorne create this problem?

        • Posted by Distraction on

          Your hair splitting does not change anything. Lorne is part of a cabinet that did nothing. Was it his portfolio until like 10 months ago? No.
          But Lorne was minister of CGS. Did Lorne build any units for housing or acquire enough for staff? No. So Lorne has contributed to this in two ways. He has done nothing in a year and is losing nurses the entire period. He also sat on his hands at CGS for years. Lorne, as Minister of CGS, is even indirectly responsible for the ranomsware fiasco. So Lorne has lots to answer for to the electorate.

          • Posted by Northern Guy on

            First off CGS doesn’t build houses in Nunavut and second if you recall it was the regular MLAs and NOT Cabinet who pressured the government to allocate all existing vacant housing units as well as future planned housing units to social housing waitlists.

            • Posted by Northern gal on

              Mr. Kusugak was Minister of HR at the time, the Department responsible for allocating staff housing.

            • Posted by First of All on

              CGS is the department responsible for assets and leases. CGS builds hospitals and buildings. They can build housing and there’s nothing stopping that. They do not build housing because the GN is politically bound to not interfere with the market that is very profitable to private Inuit interests. They instead spend ten-fold what it would cost to build units to lease them from private companies over 30 year periods.

  23. Posted by Ian on

    There is a nursing shortage in all of Canada not just up here,follow the national news trolls and keyboard warriors ,protests outside of hospitals anti-vacs and nurses burnt out. Nunavut is small and nurses do not want to come north.and the minister of health inherited this portfolio from the other guy who watched it burn down over the last 7 years and did nothing point the finger at him

  24. Posted by Colin on

    You have to ask, after all these years, why GN hasn’t educated and trained all the nurses the territory needs and more. As well as all the doctors. You may recall that the world renowned thoracic surgeon Noah Carpenter graduated from residential school in Inuvik in 1963, before education became progressive. Then there’s the newly minted heart surgeon in Ottawa Donna May (Dr. K).

    You may recall that in his memoirs written in the 1960s Peter Pitseolak wrote that he expected his grandchildren could become full-fledged medical doctors.

    Meantime, a mother who moved to Ottawa from Rankin Inlet recently told me her son was to go into Grade 7. But he tested at Grade 3 level.

    There’s the saying Get a life. But GN steals life from next generations, and not only from those who commit suicide. And all for iconography of the long defunct lifestyle of the hunter-trapper.

    • Posted by Callin on

      Colin you have to ask yourself why Inuit have not stepped up. The answer is complicated. It involves overhousing. It involves trauma. It involves little incentive (why work hard when you can earn $100k in any GN job). It also involves hoarding, which NTI keeping all the money for a rich few. It also involves people not taking advantage of opportunities. It involves the culture not valuing education in sciences and placing undue regard on hunting and going on the land. It involves lack of life experience with people never leaving the north. It is a lot of things, but whatever the reasons or excuses given, not enough people step up. How many Inuit from the last law program practice law? None. How many will practice law after this cohort? We will see. It is the same for nurses and doctors, you can pave the road but people need to go work. You cannot train doctors and nurses as a government, they need to be educated first. Less than 100 Inuit have a university degree. The land claim was signed nearly 30 years ago. Responsibility must be taken by Inuit and NTI. The GN is basically an Indigenous Government in form, so it reflects those it represents.

  25. Posted by Seen it too on

    Comments on stories about the Health Department are always so well said and insightful in pointing out the dysfunction of the GN. Having spent years in justice before mercifully departing I can say that so much of what is said about incompetent and toxic management just rings so loud and so true.

  26. Posted by Make them feel appreciated, but how? on

    Imagine being a nurse in Nunavut. Sure, the pay is good, but everything else is toxic. From the time you step foot in the door of a Health Center you are greeted by staff who just sit around in the reception area, often doing little more than socializing and maybe filing a few documents. You must accept that despite having studied for 6+ years to be a nurse, these staff are likely making close to as much as you. Huge disincentive. This is borderline communism.

    Second, there is a huge safety concern. Sure, some health centers have security, but this doesn’t stop an angry drunk from spitting in the face of a nurse, or threatening to kill his/her family because he doesn’t agree with the nurses’ prognosis. The nurse is now on high alert, and in a small town, may feel uneasy going to do groceries, walking home at night, etc. Once again, the Dep’t of Health does nothing to help with this.

    Third there is management. Often these managers have zero regard for the medical practice but want nurses to be on-call 24/7. Zero praise from management, just a constant workload. Complain about harassment? Nothing will be done, because back in the days, nurses were a dime a dozen. Well, times have changed. Imagine working 7-days straight without being able to get a full night sleep. People calling the emergency on-call number cause they want tylenol at 3am, etc.

    It is beyond me why any nurse would pick Nunavut over the Yukon or the NWT. And for those who come up and last more than a few months, why are you doing this to yourselves? Do you regard yourselves as humanitarian workers?

    • Posted by Health staff on

      Nothing is ever going to change, until people cannot get services and die. Then the GN will pay millions for “feasibility studies”, and “service inquiries”. If the ministers, DM and Management actually stepped out of their offices long enough they could see what is really going on.

      People are fed up with being overworked every week to make up for their priority hired staff that shows up one day a week and spends that day going to check the mail, chat with friends, go get coffee for the duration.

      The ridiculous GN hiring policies depend on the casual staff to run most departments. GN you are the cause of your nurse/doctor/health staff burnout. When they were told no vacations, no non essential travel they stayed and worked swabbing the antivaxxers and party goers. All while the NEU management, as well as MLA’s, health Management all took their family vacations, and isolated at taxpayers expense. Some of us Health staff only this summer got to have a vacation for the first time since 2019, only to be shamed with Health Centre closures as a result.

    • Posted by Too little , too late on

      Sadly there is no one solution to fix all of the problems creating these staff issues. The GN will keep putting temporary band aids on in the form of higher signing bonuses, and higher wages. What they fail to realize is that mental health comes above money, any day. Many Nurses are taking care of themselves by opting for living in other provinces, with their families and support structures, for lower pay. COVID is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Between forced OT, burnout, heavy travel restrictions for only some, while others can charter private planes, etc etc.
      No dollar figure will keep anyone for long if they are expected to work in a thankless job, with absolutely useless management; dealing with the constant bigotry and abuse from the public. Canada wide it is a very open job market, with job seekers having the upper hand and preferring to put their mental health first.

  27. Posted by articrick on

    Did you guys see Rankin North/Chester’s re elect flyer? Lol. I thought I would see a list of accomplishments but nope,lol

  28. Posted by Kevin F on

    Government Nunavut has an ethics office what do they do?????

  29. Posted by Arilia on

    My comment is short, treat your Inuit nurses with respect and give them priority. Very sad state of affairs, where have they all gone and why???

    • Posted by Bye bye on

      They are gone for the same reasons everyone else leaves. Toxic GN work environment that is riddled with hate and incompetence.

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