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Media Release: Issues Concerning NWT Healthcare Workers

Feb 13, 2022

In light of the recent Covid-19 outbreak at Stanton, the Union of Northern Workers is increasingly concerned about the wellbeing of our healthcare members.

This latest setback is putting yet more pressure on our workers who are already overworked, stressed out, doing countless hours of overtime, and are exhausted.

The issues our healthcare staff are facing are not unique to the NWT, but nationwide nursing shortages have hit the NWT especially hard. The GNWT’s failure to effectively recruit and retain qualified healthcare professionals has left everyone feeling unsupported and unappreciated. This has been compounded by poor management of the precious resources we do still have.

The GNWT has the capacity to be more competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining healthcare staff, though this will require systemic change and producing actual plans for the short term, medium term, and long term.

Being competitive means more than increasing wages and handing out bonuses – it also means providing a positive work environment, encouraging work-life balance, and respecting workers.

Unless we see some immediate and concrete action from the GNWT, the Union fears it’s only a matter of time before we see more reductions in services, units merging or shutting down.

To date, the Government of the Northwest Territories has not provided the Union with any specific action plans or timelines. The union has heard lots of talk and promises from our government, but has seen nothing concrete.

The GNWT can’t keep blaming Covid and deferring solutions. Words mean nothing without action, and our government needs to step up and show our workers that they’re valued.

Our healthcare workers also need the public to show their support. Write to your MLA or your local news outlet and help us put more pressure on our government to properly invest in our public services.

We all have a role to play in easing the burden on our healthcare workers by taking public health advice seriously, following Covid-19 safety protocols, and helping to stop the spread of covid-19 in our communities. 

Let’s all do our part to help protect the people whose job is to protect us.

Gayla Thunstrom
UNW President

For media inquiries, please contact the UNW Communications Officer