Temporary midwives to be requested for Kivalliq region through new contract
Three midwives planned in Rankin Inlet so one can travel to Baker Lake or Arviat, says Health Department
Rankin Inlet could get temporary midwives as early as this summer, through a contract the territorial government has signed with a southern-Canada based health-care company.
Bayshore HealthCare was awarded a multi-year contract last month to become the Nunavut government’s primary nursing and midwife provider.
“The plan is to have three midwives in Rankin Inlet and depending on availability, assign one midwife in Arviat and one midwife in Baker Lake as required,” Danarae Sommerville, a spokesperson with the department, said in an email.
Rankin Inlet is the priority as the regional birthing centre, Somerville said, but depending on availability, one could travel within the Kivalliq region to support prenatal programs run by community health nurses.
Women have not been able to deliver their babies at the Rankin Inlet birthing centre since last August, when two midwives quit, citing years of mistreatment. The centre has continued to provide prenatal and postnatal care.
The effective start date of the government’s contract with Bayshore is July 21, meaning this is the earliest new staff could start working.
Nunavut has the highest birthrate in the country, with about 22 births per 1,000 women, compared to the cross-Canada average of 10, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent data, from 2019.
Still, most pregnant women in Nunavut must fly to Winnipeg or Ottawa to deliver.
In the past, the GN has had agreements to request staff from multiple nursing agencies. Now, Bayshore is the main staffing agency, which will “assist with allocating agency nurses equitably across the territory,” Sommerville said.
Bayshore’s northern staffing program, which has been running for more than 20 years, sends nurses and midwives on temporary assignments of four to six weeks in hospitals, long-term care centres and patients’ homes in communities on an as-needed basis.
The GN has not submitted an official request to Bayshore yet, since it will depend on the availability of indeterminate and casual GN midwives, but it has shared the forecasted staffing needs with the company, Sommerville said.
She said the department’s goal is still to hire and retain permanent and indeterminate staff for midwifery and nursing positions.
Until then, the contract with Bayshore will help supplement the GN’s existing nursing and midwifery workforce.
Through the contract, the GN can also request TB nurses, mental health nurses, home care nurses, nurse managers, regional communicable disease co-ordinators, and other specialized workers.
Bayshore is responsible for training its staff before sending them to work in Nunavut.
The contract is currently signed for three years — until March 22, 2024 — and the GN will have the option to renew for one year twice afterwards.