Patterson to be interim chair of Baffin health board

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT Health Minister Kelvin Ng announced the appointment of Dennis Patterson as interim chair of the Baffin health board by the end of this week.

The position was left vacant last month when Ann Hanson stepped down amid a barrage of controversy about recent board decisions, including the rejection of an offer from Qikiqtaaluk Corporation for private financing of a new regional hospital.

“It’s not an Iqaluit seat,” said Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco. “It’s a Baffin seat and, I think, most of the MLAs brought forward different names.”

All agreed on Patterson, who was premier of the Northwest Territories and who served as Iqaluit’s MLA from 1979-1995. he has also been minister of health and held numerous other portfolios.

“What they wanted to do was find someone to go in there who had some history and Dennis has that,” Picco said.

Business groups, QIA consulted

The Baffin and Iqaluit Chambers of Commerce also suggested names to the minister, including Patterson’s.

Qikiqtani Inuit Association President Lazarus Arreak said Ng contacted him last week to ask whether or not he’d support Patterson’s appointment.

He said his association was “fully consulted,” though QIA has no official say in who is appointed. Arreak added that he’s been assured by the acting chair of the health board that its members have also been consulted.

“He (Ng) mentioned this would be a term under a year,” Arreak said. “Our position is that even though we don’t have direct responsibilty for appointment to that position, we would like a stronger say from an earlier period on the next appointment.”

Arreak said his priority is to move along the process of constructing a new Baffin regional hospital.

“There’s no negative reaction from the board of QIA if it’s temporary,” Arreak added. “If it’s temporary, go with it for now because there are so many hurdles to cross.”

Residency doesn’t matter

Arreak said he’d heard concerns about Patterson as a choice for interim chair, but he says they were from people with “personal agendas.”

“There were concerns about Patterson not living in Baffin, but in our books that’s just nit-picking. It’s not even worth talking about.

“Obviously, if he’s someone who has experience running the whole territory, he’ll have a better chance at running the Baffin regional hospital board.”

“As it stands now, there is no opposition to having Mr Patterson’s name put forward as the chair for the Baffin health board,” Ng told members of the legislative assembly last week.

The appointment is expected to be for a term of about a year.

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