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Iqaluit boarding home in limbo

The Iqaluit Elders Society (IES) is trying to figure out how more than 50 staff, as well as patients, will be affected after its contract to run the Tammaativvik Medical Boarding Home was cancelled without notice on Thursday.

"Right now, we're focusing on making sure that we are not responsible for causing any additional problems for patients and that we're supporting our staff," said Anne Crawford, lawyer for the society.

"It appears there was no transition plan," she said.

The Government of Nunavut contracts Nova Group to run the boarding home, which had in turn subcontracted the management and staffing of the facility to IES for many years.

"We have put aside the issue for the moment of if we are going to sue or if they breached something or whatever," said Crawford, "and once we get through doing our best for everybody involved, then we'll look back at it and make those decisions."

Department of Health spokesperson Sara Arsenault told Nunavut News that Nova had informed the department it was ending the relationship with the society, and that any questions related to employment and patient services at the boarding home should be directed to Nova.

Nunavut News did not hear back from Nova by press time.

Crawford said she believes, contrarily, that the department and its minister, George Hickes, were involved in the decision and that Nova is a convenient middleman.

She says that the GN has committed to 70 beds and provides resources for such, and with that the facility has been able to provide a 90-bed facility.

"The government refused to change the contract and continued to send us over 200 people a day," she said. "So, as a consequence, services have not been perfect."

She said this has led to disagreement between the society and the department.

"They are not prepared to invest the resources they need to invest to have an Iqaluit workforce and an Inuktitut-speaking workplace providing those services," she said.

Crawford said the impact on the community will be huge.

"This is the largest Inuktitut-speaking workplace in the territory. If you're unilingual, you can work there."

She said it's also one of the biggest local employers.

"I have no expectation that [Nova] will be able to do a better job."