With Sanikiluaq’s new health centre scheduled for completion in about 18 months, Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt sought assurance new staff housing near the centre was also on the way.
“Can the minister provide an update on the status of the five-plex staff housing that is to be constructed right next to the new health centre,” he asked Health Minister George Hickes.
Hickes said there were complications.
“How do I say this? It has been a complicated topic. I know that even just this morning we were talking about staff housing specifically for health centre staff with a couple of my colleagues,” he said.
Hickes then explained that when new staff housing is built in a community it is considered Nunavut Housing Corporation staff-housing stock.
“We can’t confirm that they would be intended for the health centre staff. There are, in some communities, memorandums of understanding where we can make an agreement with the housing corporation to allocate those units specifically for health centre staff.,” said Hickes.
“Right now we’re still in discussions on how and where we’re going to locate those units, but in the meantime we do have a plan in place to continue to utilize the residential units in the current health centre.”
Rumbolt was not satisfied that the five-plex was a go, saying a letter he received in the fall indicated otherwise. He stressed the need for housing to be close to the centre, especially in case of emergencies and considering winter conditions.
Hickes he needed to get the timelines sorted out with Community and Government Services, as well as the housing corporation.
“Absolutely the member will be my first speed dial,” Hickes said.
But Rumbolt brought to the minister’s attention an incident in another community.
“Staff housing was built right next to the health centre, there was a lack of understanding between the Department of Health and the Nunavut Housing Corporation and the units were allocated to other government workers instead of healthcare staff,” he said, pushing for a commitment the same would not happen in Sanikiluaq.
Hickes admitted that situation had been a “learning experience.”
“I can’t commit at this time. There are some discussions that will have to take place, but my intention is to have any new residence built beside the health centre allocated to health centre staff,” Hikes said.