(Yellowknife, Hay River, and Behchoko, July 14, 2022) - Shortages of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and allied health professionals such as medical laboratory technologists continue to lead to service reductions or closures throughout the NWT.
As Chairs/Public Administrator of the NWT Health and Social Services Authority Leadership Council, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority Board of Management and the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency, we are deeply concerned these staffing issues continue to impact both residents who are looking to access care and services and staff within the system who are working very hard to serve our residents with limited resources. We emphasize with the individuals and families – our fellow community members – who are being impacted by this.
This is a difficult situation and we want to recognize people working within the system who continue to go above and beyond to close the gaps that we are seeing. We are working to focus our efforts on finding ways to ensure we have the people and resources we need to make sure our system can operate without adding stress to those who live and work here and have given so much already through the pandemic.
We have been briefed by our CEOs on the critical situation we are facing that could potentially impact the health and well-being of the residents of our regions. Ensuring services are available is critical to maintaining public trust in our healthcare system.
Across the country we are seeing health systems calling for help in a growing issue that threatens the ability to provide the care, services, and access that people deserve and depend on. This is a problem that needs solutions at every level, nationally, territorially, and locally.
We are pleased to see the Premier come forward with a strong statement with her peers across the country at the Council of Federation, requesting more funding for health and social services systems across the country.
While we have made recent progress on a vision for how we will work towards a more sustainable system and set plans to stabilize and grow our human resources through the Health and Social Services System HR Plan this plan focuses on the medium-to-long term solutions. What we need to focus on now is the immediate actions we can take to ensure continued services and find ways to limit reductions in the NWT.
We recognize that many of the tools that could be used to attract additional nurses, physicians, and skilled health sector workers to the NWT would require the agreement or approval of other parties within government and stakeholder groups. Immediate and focused collaboration will be the path to solving these issues.
The Authorities have set up a special task team to come forward with a set of immediate recommendations for solutions and we are collaborating with our GNWT partners to examine and implement these actions as soon as possible.
We know we need action and solutions now to address the urgent need for health professionals in our communities. This is our top priority and more information will be provided as soon as recommendations and actions to implement them are available.
Jim Antoine, Chair, NWT Health and Social Services Leadership Council
Ted Blondin, Chair, Chair of Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency
Brian Willows, Public Administrator, Hay River Health and Social Services Authority