Two-thirds of Nunavut nurses report experiencing violence in workplace

Response part of Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut survey, released Wednesday

Nurses in the territory say they want to see more done to retain and recruit in Nunavut, according to a new survey. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Emma Tranter

About half of the territory’s nurses plan to retire over the next decade and two-thirds have considered leaving their jobs in the past two years, according to survey results released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut.

The survey, conducted in February by the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, looked at working conditions for nurses across both territories.

The survey received responses from 328 Nunavut nurses.

While about 60 per cent of the nurses surveyed said they were satisfied with working conditions, two-thirds said they had personally experienced violence in the workplace and even more had witnessed violence there.

More than two-thirds also said their current job is contributing to burnout, with the vast majority experiencing burnout over the past 12 months.

“Nurses reported the burnout was the result of two main factors, management issues and inadequate supports,” the survey report said.

On top of that, just over three out of five respondents said staffing levels in Nunavut aren’t adequate to meet patient needs.

Nurses also reported they want more training in the areas of mental health and addictions, public health and cultural competence.

The survey also showed that while nearly one-third of overall respondents said their primary place of residence is outside Nunavut, just over two-thirds of nurses working at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit live in the territory permanently.

Three-quarters of the nurses who responded to the survey said they had been working in their current position for five years or less.

Of the respondents, about 20 per cent are indeterminate or full-time employees, while about 78 per cent reported working on a contract or casual basis.

The survey shows that more than half of the nurses who responded were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the recruitment process.

“Those who reported being unsatisfied/somewhat unsatisfied identified long and confusing hiring processes, challenges navigating relocation, lack of support, lack of formal orientation/onboarding processes, poor communication, and lack of accessible and current information as key reasons,” the results said.

Nunavut, along with other provinces and territories, has long struggled to recruit and retain nurses.

The survey report also points to possible solutions to the nursing shortage, including annual financial incentives, the ability to work short-term contracts, and access to more professional development opportunities.

“Today, [nurses association’s] 2021 nursing survey will allow us to listen to our staff’s guidance to determine how to better meet their needs. This feedback will help us fulfill the goals of our recruitment and retention strategies,” Nunavut Health Minister John Main said in a news release.


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(32) Comments:

  1. Posted by The voice of long lived experience on

    Many of the problems we see in GN workplaces stem, in good part, from poorly trained (if trained at all) management. Incompetence is completely normalized and accepted. With no competent oversight it goes on for years in perpetuity. The workplace suffers, workers get tired and quit while the managers hide in their office and scroll through social media all day, completely clueless.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      The rate of violence experienced by health care workers has nothing to do with the competence or incompetence of their managers with GN and everything to do with the dysfunctional population that they are paid to serve.

      • Posted by OP on

        Of course that is true, however if you read the story, and not just the headline, you’d notice a survey on working conditions done by the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut that found high rates of burnout among nurses attributable to “management issues and inadequate supports.”

        • Posted by Scrubs on

          Incompetent, bullying management is exactly why I left Nunavut. Here’s an example of what happened to a friend as I sat and watched:

          Let’s say you’re on a contract, and it has an end date. You have a vacation planned with a loved one you haven’t seen in two months- the plane tickets are paid for. A week before you leave, you get a call from the regional manager, and he says you’re going to extend another nine days. You tell him no, you’ve got plans.

          He says if you don’t, you won’t work in the region again.

          How many nurses are going to shrug and say, “Okay, guess I’m not coming back.” ?

          • Posted by There it is…. on

            I guess another nurse was lost…plans were already made. These type of conversations would have any nurse running in the opposite direction. So unfortunate.

            • Posted by Scrubs on

              Nurses are in ultra high demand- we no longer have to put up with abuse to make ‘Nunavut money’. Many of us actually enjoyed the work and the communities we served, and the pay was just a happy bonus.

              Here’s another fun story: three contract nurses from an agency were willing to work out a job-sharing position in a community. The hamlet liked them, the SHP liked them. They all had kids back in the south that they wanted to spend time with. They pitched it to the regional manager, and offered to move over to GN if the idea was accepted.

              All three are no longer permitted to work in the region.

          • Posted by Anguttialook on

            This is direct fall out of gn hiring policy..putting inept personal in position they don’t really qualify for they don’t have the level of education, experience or knowledge..that sets them up for failure and the public and workers open to abuse.when you question thier idiosyncrasies they turn into instant bullies…NLCA has made the gn the most watered down and inept work force in canada hands down….soon it may be time to challenge the status quo

          • Posted by Samuel Browne on

            Response to scrubs…I am about to take on the incompetent bullies to court for damages…sabataged my lively hood in Alberta…the 60 days notice I sent them has expired…statement of claim is getting ready soon…then the media…the main incompetent bully didn’t know her job even after 17 to 20 yrs as director…buzzard isn’t it…but that’s the status quo…it pathetic what goes on in nunavut

            • Posted by Scrubs on

              I believe we may have met, Sam. Perhaps in Gjoa Haven last- I wish you luck.

              • Posted by Samuel Browne on

                Response to scrubs again..I was in gjoa haven in 1999.i was the chief cook and bottle washer on ntcl tig pisuriack kootook(David kootook who parished trying to get help in the Martin Hartwell incident)..plan went down..a nurse also parished..there is also an inukshuk on jasper ave..I have touched that inukshuk and said a prayer to the creator. I know his brother Johnny kootook from cambay…I also feed a lot of people in every port ..every port we invited nurses locals we even carried extra fruit..just for kids that hung around docks/wharf…a lot of people ate sams cooking…one nurse even picked me up hitchhiking outside calgary to edm..was having a tough time..asked the creator and my spirit guide for help…a nurse I fed I think Sachs Harbour or gjoa haven was sent to help me…things work in mysteriously…even when we need help or in a jam..I thought I share this with readers…been going to the artic since 1976…some of the most memorable and scenic sunrises I have ever seen as a sailor for 25 yrs ..just dawn on me how lucky I am

  2. Posted by The Tale of Two Stories on

    Really interesting that the nurses didn’t mention compensation in what they’re dissatisfied with, as nurses generally gross more than anybody in the territory, but that it was the first thing they mentioned in possible solutions.
    Guess a little extra on top of that big paycheque would help with all that burnout.
    Also, I think you should rephrase “two-thirds of nurses working at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit live in the territory permanently”, to, “two-thirds of nurses working at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit live in the territory for now”.

    • Posted by iThink on

      This is an interesting observation for sure, it seems a bit opportunistic to say “more pay” when that was not identified as an issue. Somehow I doubt that would solve much of anything, honestly, though it may have some marginal effect. Not to say good compensation doesn’t matter, but it seems there are deeper, more intangible issues underlying all this.

    • Posted by Randybobandy on

      Well, according to Scrubs, the pay was ” just ” a happy bonus. He/she was happy to help people in need and the passion for the job will pay for the bills, food, retirement…give me a break. Sure, alot of issues within their department and how they are run, but to say more or less the pay was/is just a bonus for any type of employment is ridiculous in itself.

  3. Posted by Delbert on

    The number of nurses who expearinced some kind of violence in the work place. Corresponds with the rate of violent crime in the territories. With Nunavut statiscally having the highest rate of violent crime per capita in Canada. Or near the top. The issue with management often is managers. Trying to run a health care system with not haveing a nusreing designation. and absoluty no expeirance in management of any kind.

  4. Posted by Tip of the iceburg/ canary in the coal mine on

    Teachers will be next. Sad, Nunavut used to be an attractive place to work with a whole lot of promise, but that has just gone down the drain. More closures are to come. Reap what you sew.

    On another note, still waiting on that “health care workers are racist” report. Maybe that will help recruit more nurses to the north.

    • Posted by Crisis Ongoing on

      The teacher situation is already a crisis and has been for sometime. It would be interesting to see what kind of numbers we are dealing with this year in terms of job vacancies and retention rates. Will you run a story on this soon, Nunatsiaq?

      • Posted by Teachers Too on

        The Department of (mis)Education reports annually. The numbers vary from school to school and year to year.
        Graduation from grade 12 is about 25%. The other 75% of students never make it to graduation. Student absenteeism averages 30%.
        Education never reports directly on teacher absenteeism. The GN employs less than 1000 certified teacher, but it has about 2000 substitute teachers.

  5. Posted by Lol on

    It’s worse, this is only from The two thirds who are left. There’s been Major exodus in Nunavut and Iqaluit in particular. See GN jobs website. Department of Health management and DM operations shrug off formal complaints about patients, other staff and the nonsecurity company they pay to keep us safe.

  6. Posted by Step up now on

    Nunavumiut must step up and get formally trained as nurses and other health professionals!! Start the training now and complete it. And then make a commitment to working long-term and providing the much-needed care. Our territory needs these workers and having qualified Nunavumiut in the positions is obviously the best solution. Come on, people, get qualified!!

    (And let’s hear from leaders —Inuit and non-Inuit— to speak strongly and frequently to motivate/push people to do healthcare training.)

    • Posted by Scrubs on

      No amount of Nunavumiut becoming nurses will, in fact, deal with the issue of terrible management at the local and regional levels that covers for bad actors.

    • Posted by Samuel Browne on

      Response to step up….the gn has had over 22 yrs to get people trained,up to speed…yet the nlca unrealistic expectations the standard of education and nti overzealous need for control for top management job inuits first has caused this fiasco and created this cluster fck..of directors who have huge egos pay cheques yet they haven’t earned that wage…yes this is what happens when the Nuevo riche are handed things due to connections and race…well Mr step up…this is a step down..

  7. Posted by Tsa on

    What power they have medical examination wrongful diagnoses leading up to lose high paying jobs. Just taking advantage of people Racist country

  8. Posted by Anaanamous on

    I for one got mad on so many levels. There are reasons why people get mad and angry. It’s only noticeable cause we are a small population. Everywhere in the south ppl are treated like that too.

    We are told too many times:
    Take Tylenol, or Advil. Even a broken finger. Take Tylenol. Dk what’s going on? Take Tylenol.
    Also mental health help. You have to get frustrated to get help. You have to explain your problem to one person. Next appt explain everything to a whole new person. Next appt new worker; explain everything all over again. It’s a vicious cycle and we are left to deal with all of this on our own.

    Nunavut wake up and go to school. Get these jobs where we need help the most. It will help Nunavut as a whole to heal properly.

    • Posted by George on

      Having lived in the territory for over 50-years, the slow decline in the quality of health care has been pretty obvious. We once had 650 people here and just two nurses. But they were very good nurses who lived for many years in the community and got to know the people well. There was no waiting for hours in the (aptly-called) waiting room, only to be eventually seen by a nurse who has no idea of your past medical history and has no time to educate him/herself by reading your two-inch thick chart. The system is in crisis and there is no relief in sight. The government would lose a race against a snail when it comes to making the necessary repairs. Unfortunately, people will die as a result of delayed treatment as local incompetence prevails and regional hospital infrastructure falls apart.

  9. Posted by lol on

    Management issue in the GN? HAHA no way… That is honestly the main issue with every department. Being managed into the ground by the most incompetent people that can be found..

    • Posted by Justice Dept too on

      Same problems in Justice, everyone wants out and are running for the door. Too many incompetent managers who have no clue how to deal with the issues and, worse, no idea what the issues are because they are holed up in their offices or playing hide and seek with their friends all day.

      It is demoralizing to work under so much incompetence.

      • Posted by Samuel Browne on

        Response to justice dept comment….1st of all my condolences I feel for you…for you are mired in another nu dept that’s incompetent, toxic and in complete disarray…so much waste that is now standard…well the deluded,shortsighted ignoramus negotiators of nlca wanted this…well ya all got it now…a complete excrement show….but just to ease your pain…I am taking on nu justice…soon the minister is going to be notified in writing 60 day notice for civil action against his department..collusion @ nu illegal aid in cambay and gjoa haven and iqaluit

      • Posted by Samuel Browne on

        Response to justice dept comment….1st of all my condolences I feel for you…for you are mired in another nu dept that’s incompetent, toxic and in complete disarray…so much waste that is now standard…well the deluded,shortsighted ignoramus negotiators of nlca wanted this…well ya all got it now…a complete excrement show….but just to ease your pain…I am taking on nu justice…soon the minister is going to be notified in writing 60 day notice for civil action against his department..collusion @ nu illegal aid in cambay, gjoa haven and iqaluit…they don’t really know what to do with me…for they haven’t encountered the likes of me…I told them do not treat me like an inuit…I am versed in law and I am learning more…precedent may be set…like Bob marley…sang….get up stand up…stand up for your right…its go time and show time soon..cant even get legal aid application from kitimeot law clinic nor a call back from the director of legal aid in phone records in print…john boy has been dodging me…why why why…stay tuned

  10. Posted by Now do teachers! on

    Do teachers next! I want to see their thoughts on the rate of violence in Nunavut

  11. Posted by Northern Guy on

    And you wonder why no one is kicking down the door to work here and health centres have to temporarily close?

  12. Posted by Inuin on

    Inuit are living comfortably. Inuit become more nurses. Most of them are not from the north.

  13. Posted by Susan on

    Come on Nunavut Inuit, stop complaining, get more education, it would be nice to see Inuit to start doing something with Nursing programs, there are so much opportunities and why just complain and go to these opened opportunities. STOP being lazy! if we want more good services, start serving too in Nunavut. Let’s make this Nunavut to be better too. Don’t just look at the problems, do something too!!!!


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