Skip to content

Ongoing emergency-only status at Nunavut health centres unacceptable, says Amittuq MLA

Sometimes, emergencies are emergencies, says Joelie Kaernerk
Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk is urging the Government of Nunavut to improve the emergency services at health centres. Photo courtesy of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

The ongoing emergency-only status in Sanirajak’s health centre and in other communities is leading to worse outcomes and even tragedies, says Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk, who highlighted the issue during his member’s statement in the Nunavut Legislature on March 6.

“Since last summer, the Sanirajak community health centre has constantly been on emergency services only. I do recognize health centres are understaffed, the nurses need rest and I greatly appreciate the service they provide,” said Kaernerk.

He added that during after-hours emergencies, patients are often asked to call or use a virtual kit to determine whether or not it’s an actual emergency. However, patients often can’t or don’t have time to deal with that process, particularly when it’s an urgent concern, he contended.

“There are times in an emergency, it’s just that, an emergency, and people need to have confidence their emergency is going to be addressed in a timely manner,” the MLA said.

Residents are asked to be patient, said Kaernerk, but “when community members are told to call out for assistance, or told to use the virtual kit, they anticipate the response,” which entails waiting for someone to get back to them to determine whether their situation has been identified as an emergency.

“I call upon our government to take immediate steps to improve the levels of emergency service at community health centres,” Kaernerk said. “Nunavummiut should have the healthcare they need, when and where they need them — so that in an emergency they wouldn’t be left without a response or support before another tragedy occurs.”