Iqaluit’s Tammaativvik Boarding Home is admittedly under strain but the number of complaints about service have fallen “dramatically” over the past couple of years, Health Minister George Hickes said in the legislative assembly on Wednesday.

“There has been a lot of progress because of the staff training and security guard training,” Hickes said. “It is challenging right now, especially under the restrictions that we have where the visiting is limited, we have been increasing the volume of people going through that boarding home. Instead of sending medical travellers outside the territory, we are providing more services here in Iqaluit.”

Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak was one of a few MLAs to raise concerns about the boarding home. Keyootak, who has brought up this issue in the House previously, said the “problems persist.” He wanted to know how the Department of Health works with the boarding home contractor to ensure staff are able to speak Inuktitut with medical travel patients.

Hickes said he knows some of the staff are bilingual. He noted that his department meets with boarding home management quarterly, but he stressed that the best avenue for lodging complaints is through the Office of Patient Relations.

“They are very engaged with the whole medical travel process and they know who to talk to and how to direct people to find solutions,” said Hickes.

Keyootak didn’t agree that the situation is improving.

“I have had concerns raised a lot more recently and the operations at Tammaativvik are getting worse on a daily basis,” he said, citing a lack of space, food and security as recurring concerns.

He asked the minister to review the terms of the boarding home contract to ensure that the appropriate services are being delivered.

Hickes asked Keyootak to submit his concerns in writing and he would raise them during the next quarterly meeting with Tammaativvik management.

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