Nunavut shuts seven health centres temporarily because of nursing shortage

IQALUIT, Nunavut — The Nunavut government says it will temporarily close seven health centres in the territory this summer because it doesn't have enough nurses to staff them.

Health minister Lorne Kusugak says in a news release that several Nunavut communities, including the territory's two northernmost communities, will be affected by the closures.

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Kusugak says a Canada-wide shortage of health-care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic has made recruiting in Nunavut difficult.

Nunavut's health department says it signed a contract with Bayshore Healthcare Agency that will prevent further closures.

With only one hospital to serve the territory's 25 fly-in communities and about 40,000 people, the Nunavut government operates health centres in all communities that are usually staffed by nurses.

Kusugak says the plan is to offer virtual health, fly-in clinics and paramedic services to communities with the closures.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide shortage of health care staff have made the recruitment of nurses into the territory very difficult," Kusugak said in the news release.

"My department developed contingency plans that will allow continuity of health services in affected communities while aggressively pursuing recruitment efforts throughout the summer."

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

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