Netsilik MLA Joseph Quqqiaq raised the issue of out-of-territory advanced levels of care for Elders, calling it “very unfortunate that we cannot yet provide that level of care here in our home territory.”
Many Elders are placed in facilities in Ottawa, but, speaking in the legislative assembly earlier this week, Quqqiaq argued that it’s time-consuming and difficult for their family members in Nunavut to visit as often as they would wish. He called on the government to “fully explore opportunities to place our Elders who cannot receive the level of care they need in Nunavut in locations that are geographically closer to their families. It would mean so much to their loved ones.”
“Our neighbours in the Northwest Territories have long been welcoming medical patients,” he said. “It would make so much sense if Elders… could receive long-term care in Yellowknife. It would also cost significantly less for family members to visit them. Likewise, Edmonton, or even Winnipeg would be more accessible locations.”
Later in the session, Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok also raised the issue, calling on Health Minister John Main to speak on the Oct. 12 deadline for long-term care operator request for proposals and the Oct. 17 extended deadline for further information.
“The long-term care facility in Rankin Inlet is nearing completion. I am confident that being able to stay in our territory will be a great relief to many Elders, who otherwise have received care in the south,” Sammurtok said.
Main replied that as the contract was still open, he could not speak to an exact date for the opening of the facility in Rankin Inlet, but that construction had been delayed, making for an anticipated opening in spring 2024.
Sammurtok continued, “One of the key factors in providing long-term care in the North is to ensure that Elders receive care in a culturally appropriate manner here in their own language, eating their own food and being in the familiar environment. Can the minister provide further information on how long he anticipates it will take to staff the facility and what assurances he can make that Nunavummiut will be hired to work there?”
Main responded that local and Inuit employment would be expectations of the successful bidder for the employment contract, “but I agree completely with the member that it’s really important for Elders to be served in the language of their choice. For many, I would expect it would be Inuktitut, as well as the cultural components that he mentioned.”
Main also stressed that success of Arctic College’s personal care worker course, and that these graduates would make excellent candidates for future employment at and other facilities.