Coronavirus: Nunavut temporarily closes seven health centers due to shortage of nurses


IQALUIT, NUNAVUT – The Government of Nunavut says it will temporarily close seven health centers in the territory this summer because it does not have enough nurses to staff them.

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said in a press release that several communities in Nunavut, including the two northernmost communities in the territory, will be affected by the closures.

Kusugak says a shortage of healthcare workers across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic has made recruiting in Nunavut difficult.

The Nunavut Department of Health said it has signed a contract with the Bayshore Health Care Agency that will prevent further closures.

With a single hospital to serve the 25 air-accessible communities in the territory and approximately 40,000 people, the Government of Nunavut operates health centers in all communities that are usually staffed with nurses.

Kusugak says the plan is to offer virtual health care, air-accessible clinics and paramedical services to communities with the closures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide shortage of health workers have made it very difficult to recruit nurses in the territory,” Kusugak said in the statement.

“My ministry has developed contingency plans that will allow for the continuity of health services in affected communities while aggressively pursuing recruitment efforts throughout the summer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 16, 2021.

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