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Amid Covid crisis, Nunavummiut more worried about health than jobs: Statistics Canada

During the Covid pandemic, health is of greater concern to Nunavummiut than remaining employed, according to data gathered by Statistics Canada in April.

Forty-six per cent of Nunavummiut who participated in a survey stated that they were "extremely concerned" about their own health. That compared to 40 per cent of all Canadians.  In the NWT, 39 per cent were extremely concerned about their health while 33 per cent responded the same way in Yukon.

The Covid-19 pandemic has many Nunavummiut concerned over the health system being overrun and their own personal well-being but worries over job loss are relatively low.
Pixabay photo

In addition, close to 95 per cent of Nunavummiut expressed misgivings over potentially overloading the health system.

The Statistics Canada researchers reasoned that accessing health services can be particularly challenging in Nunavut, which could exacerbate concerns over well-being. Only 14 per cent of Nunavummiut are able to see a regular health-care provider, according 2018 figures from Statistics Canada. That compares to 85 per cent for Canadians as a whole.

Nunavut residents also recently indicated greater concern about the risk of violence in the home than the national average – 14 per cent, compared to nine per cent nationally. Worries over family stress from confinement were also slightly elevated in the territory – 38 per cent, compared to 35 per cent nationally.

The Stats Canada researchers noted that Nunavut already has the highest rates of police-reported partner violence and child and youth violence in the country.

"Victims of domestic violence in the North also have fewer support services and facilities at their disposal," the report stated.

When it comes to maintaining jobs, Nunavummiut were not as anxious as residents elsewhere. Close to 15 per cent of those in Nunavut who participated in the Statistics Canada survey indicated that they were concerned about losing their jobs. That was lower than the approximately one-quarter of NWT and Yukon residents and Canadians overall who shared that concern.

The researchers pointed out that the government accounts for a high proportion of employment in Nunavut and that public-sector workers are more likely to retain their jobs than those toiling in the private sector.

Also related to finances, only about 30 per cent of Nunavummiut respondents stated that the Covid crisis would have a major or moderate impact on their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs. That was lower than the approximately 35 per cent grouping among Canadians and those in the NWT and Yukon.

The Statistics Canada data was compiled via a crowdsourcing questionnaire from April 3-25.

"Crowdsourcing data represent a unique opportunity to give a sense of how people in the Canadian North reacted as the pandemic unfolded," the agency stated.

Nunavut respondents numbered 121 people – most of them saying they resided in Iqaluit. There were 513 people who said they were answering questions from the NWT while 1,849 stated they live in the Yukon.