Baker Lake should once again have a facility to provide basic levels of care for elders, the community’s MLA stated in the legislative assembly on Friday.

“Baker Lake has ample room for development and could
easily support a home for elders who may need a little extra care to live their lives safely and comfortably,” says MLA Craig Simailak.
photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

Craig Simailak asked Health Minister George Hickes why the Martha Taliruq Centre in Baker Lake was closed in 2018.

Hickes replied that the facility was not in good standing legally, partly because of unfulfilled financial reporting requirements. There were also a number of building code issues and the structure was “just not suitable for elder care purposes,” Hickes said, adding that it would have been more cost effective to build a new facility rather than to repair the existing one.

Simailak said, “There is a large population of elders in Baker Lake and I am confident that any one of them would tell you that if they needed to move into a facility to receive extra support and care, they would want to stay in their home community.”

After closing the Martha Taliruq Centre, Hickes said that the Department of Health added five home care positions at Baker Lake’s health centre to help seniors remain in their home community.

The GN’s new Kivalliq elder care facility will be built in Rankin Inlet, but it’s delayed a year due to Covid and challenges getting the building materials, Hickes acknowledged.

“At the end of the day, nobody in here wants to send people outside their community, but we have to do what’s best to provide the health care for elders… having them in regional centres gives that ability for people who are travelling to typically go through the regional centre to go anywhere else, it gives the opportunity to visit family members during any recreation or medical travel,” the health minister said.

Later in the day, Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak pressed Hickes on when he would table a comprehensive Nunavut Elders Strategy.

Hickes replied that it’s been discussed but Covid-19 has taken priority so he couldn’t provide a date.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...