Actions taken to address staff concerns within NWT healthcare system

Media Statement

Yellowknife — December 21, 2021

Minister of Health and Social Services Julie Green issued the following statement:

“On Friday, December 17th, the CEO of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority provided staff with an update on actions taken to address their concerns, spurred by the labour and delivery service reduction at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

“I have met with a number of frontline staff and have found that their concerns are complex and wide-ranging. While brought forward by nursing staff at Stanton, many issues will require action across the system. I believe that we need a coordinated and collaborative approach to address these concerns and to build a better future for the NTHSSA and for NWT residents.

“I recognize clear signals from healthcare workers that staff fatigue, burnout and lagging morale are serious issues. While some drivers are new, many have been building over time, and all are becoming more acute due in part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Each concern raised is important. Some will take longer to deal with than others, but I want to assure staff that they are being heard and I will continue to listen to their feedback.

“On Friday the CEO of NTHSSA, Kim Riles, announced the following actions:

  • The NTHSSA has put a renewed focus on employee engagement. We are working to design and deliver a series of face-to-face opportunities for staff across the organization to meet with leadership in an open forum. These discussions will complement work already underway to complete a broad analysis of the issues through staff surveys.
  • To close the gap on some of the additional costs associated with being a front-line healthcare worker during the pandemic, a childcare cost reimbursement is being offered. It will be available to those who were required to be at the worksite and who were also impacted by school, class, or daycare/day home closures that led to childcare costs above and beyond what the individual would normally pay. The reimbursement will be retroactive to April 1, 2021.
  • The CEO has advanced a series of recommendations that advocate for some form of additional compensation for health and social services staff, specifically those on the front-line, to enhance recruitment and retention efforts.  The Department of Health and Social Services is working directly with the Department of Finance, Human Resources to address these recommendations.

“In addition to these actions, the following actions were announced specific to Stanton labour and delivery services:

  • Stanton Territorial Hospital’s COO initiated a review of the leave policy in November 2021, including a series of staff engagement sessions, which are expected to be complete by January to align with the next major deadline for bulk leave requests.
  • Stanton has created a team, including clinical leads and management, to look at workload and staffing models.
  • Stanton’s Medical and Nursing leadership are working to ensure that labour and delivery services will resume as soon as possible, with a focus on long term sustainability of these services.
  • In the interim at Stanton, additional positions have been approved and will be added to the OBS unit while the analysis of requirements is underway. This will not change the current staffing level on each shift but should allow for more stability and increase the flexibility of staffing options, including the addition of part time positions. Of course, the impact of this change will depend on the successful recruitment of staff.

“These actions demonstrate progress, however our work is not done. I am confident that leadership across the health and social services system is aware of the importance and urgency of this work. It will take time. Culture change is something that everyone owns, and everyone must participate in. There are fundamental pieces that need to be in place to support this change, including adequate staffing levels. As we approach the New Year this work will be undertaken with the highest priority.

“I want to thank the staff working on the frontlines. I want them to know I recognize and appreciate their efforts; we are all committed to making change. We recognize that not all the issues brought forward have been fully addressed, and this work will take time. We are working hard to build a health and social services system in which staff feel valued and heard.


For media requests, please contact:

David Maguire

Manager, Communications


Government of the Northwest Territories


Phone Number: 867-767-9107 ext 40150