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Kugaaruk facing delays in medevacs, says Netsilik MLA

Nunavut government seeking federal assistance on matter
Kugaaruk is currently facing medevac delays that Nunavut Health Minister John Main is calling “unacceptable”. NNSL file photo

Nunavut Health Minister John Main said the territorial government is looking for federal assistance on concerns surrounding the efficiency of medical evacuations in the Kitikmeot region.

Netsilik MLA Joseph Quqqiaq raised the concern during a Feb. 27 session at the Nunavut legislature.

“It often takes a very long time for the medevac plane to arrive in the community,” said Quqqiaq.

“It’s not (just the) one constituent, it’s a lot of constituents that wait a very long time. Sometimes it takes two, three days for the medevac plane to arrive,” he added.

There are three separate contracts for each of Nunavut’s regions, with Keewatin Air Limited holding all three.

For the Keewatin Air’s Kitikmeot contract there’s one dedicated aircraft in Cambridge Bay, another dedicated aircraft in Yellowknife and four other non-dedicated aircraft in Iqaluit and Winnipeg able to be brought in by the contractor as needed.

“It’s something the department takes very seriously. When we’re talking about a medevac, it’s for an urgent medical need,” said Main.

“They can bring aircraft in from other regions to meet the demand but it’s very unpredictable on how many medevacs for any given community or region.”

Main followed up his response by adding there have been issues with aerial radio communications specifically for medevacs in Kugaaruk.

“We did have an incident where there was an unacceptable delay in terms of the medevac service and the big issue was the community aerodrome radio service being provided in the community. My department took that incident, and takes those incidents, very seriously,”said Main.

Main referred to a letter he sent to federal transport minister Omar Alghabra on the issue of these.

“We have yet to receive a reply on that very concerning matter,” said Main.