The Government of Nunavut has revealed that it plans to build a continuing care centre in Cambridge Bay to serve the Kitikmeot region but it won’t elaborate on its rationale for the location.
The Hamlet of Kugluktuk has spent years trying to establish such a facility.
Nunavut News asked the Department of Health for an explanation and details on the future Kitikmeot continuing care centre but a department spokesperson responded twice indicating that there will be no further comment.
A Department of Health advertisement titled “Working toward better seniors’ care” in the Sept. 14 edition of Nunavut News states that a 24-bed continuing care centre for Rankin Inlet will soon be in the consultation phase. It further declares that “plans are also in motion for continuing care centres in Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit.”
Health Minister George Hickes’ name appears at the bottom of the ad.
Marla Limousin, Cambridge Bay’s senior administrative officer, said the Government of Nunavut has not yet made a formal announcement to the hamlet, but she has spoken with the project manager and the company conducting an environmental assessment for the proposed site arrived in town earlier this week.
“Yes, a location is being looked at and analyzed. It will be separate from the (Kitikmeot) Health Centre and the existing (continuing care) beds will move to the new care centre,” said Limousin. “It will mean a great deal where Elders from the community will be able to age in place and be near to their families with the care they require.”
Calvin Pedersen, who was sworn-in as Kugluktuk MLA on Tuesday after assuming the seat via acclimation in a scheduled byelection, said he plans to raise the issue in the legislative assembly when it reconvenes next week.
“During that time I will be seeking further clarification and information from the minister of health on this matter,” Pedersen stated. “I will then have a better idea of the overall picture and give you a better answer.”
Kugluktuk Mayor David Nivingalok couldn’t be reached for comment. When he was elected in November, he said he planned to carry on the quest for a continuing care facility that his predecessor, and brother, Ryan Nivingalok, had been pursuing for the community.
“It’s really sad and it’s hard to see that our Elders always have to leave home to be taken care of. It’s 2019 and that shouldn’t have to happen anymore,” David said.
In October 2017, then-deputy mayor Grant Newman told Nunavut News that the Hamlet of Kugluktuk just needed the Department of Health to sign a service agreement to make a 24-hour, 24-bed continuing care centre official. The hamlet had cleared a site for the building, had built its own equity to devote to the project and had financial institutions prepared to lend the balance. The expectation was that the GN would pay for the nursing care for patients.
That service agreement was never signed.
Former Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak tabled a petition in the legislative assembly signed by more than 300 residents who supported the development of a continuing care facility.
At the time, Hickes said whenever the GN receives an “unsolicited proposal” the government evaluates it to ensure it provides benefits for Nunavummiut.
Kamingoak criticized the government in May 2018 for failing to support Kugluktuk’s proposal.
“It is very frustrating when, on the one hand, our government urges Nunavummiut to learn to be self-sufficient and to work together to find our own solutions, but on the other hand will not commit to providing the necessary support,” she said. “Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote a line from the vision statement of our government’s Turaaqtavut mandate: ‘Government supports communities to build on their strengths and enables their self-reliance.'”