Health department says more than two dozen indeterminate positions are vacant in those communities
Health services have been reduced in six Nunavut communities because of critical staffing shortages.
In Baker Lake, Coral Harbour and Kugaaruk, health centres are offering reduced services, while in Gjoa Haven, Whale Cove and Resolute Bay, only emergency services are available.
The territory’s health department says there are more than two dozen indeterminate positions that are vacant in those communities, with some of those vacancies filled by casual employees:
- In Whale Cove, all five positions are vacant, with two casual employees.
- In Resolute Bay, two of four positions are vacant.
- In Baker Lake, 11 of 13 positions are vacant, with four casual employees.
- In Gjoa Haven, seven of 10 positions are vacant, with five casual employees.
- In Coral Harbour, five of 10 positions are vacant, with four casual employees.
- In Kugaaruk, four of six positions are vacant, with four casual employees.
In an emailed statement, health department spokesperson Danarae Sommerville said paramedics will be on site and available round the clock to provide urgent care when there are health centre closures.
“The department will use a combination of virtual health and paramedic services to support residents of communities affected,” Sommerville wrote.
Calls made to a local health centre may be automatically forwarded to other communities, she said.
Working to address the issue
Health Minister John Main has said the government is working with the Nunavut Employees Union to address the issue.
But Jason Rochon of the Nunavut Employees Union said Thursday the job vacancies at health centres show that the Nunavut government is “failing.”
“They need to really step up and they need to do better,” Rochon said.
He said the government needs to look at its retention and recruitment strategies, and how much people are paid.
“People are not elephants, we don’t work for peanuts and they need to really do a lot better,” Rochon said.
Rochon acknowledged there are health care staff shortages all across the country, but he said the Nunavut government can’t use that as an excuse.
“We’ve been struggling with vacancies for decades, and they’ve known it. And now that there’s a shortage all across Canada, they’re even further behind,” Rochon said.
“This should not be a surprise to the minister of Health, if he’s lived in Nunavut a long time, that there’s health-care shortages, and there’s been nothing done for years and years and years.”
-With files from Emily Haws
Related stories from around the North:
Greenland: Greenland to reduce services amidst staffing shortages in health care system, Eye on the Arctic