Julie Green: Stanton Territorial Hospital Obstetrics Unit Update

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — February 22, 2022

Check against delivery



Mr. Speaker, today, I am happy to announce that, starting immediately, we are resuming labour and delivery services for all NWT residents. This means that any NWT resident who is due to deliver a child can now expect to deliver their baby in the NWT starting today.

This represents a more rapid reopening than announced last month. The improved staffing outlook through March and April has made this change possible.
At this time residents from Nunavut who are normally served by Stanton Territorial Hospital will continue to travel to Edmonton, but I am assured that the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is working to resume services also for these individuals as soon as possible.

I recognize the impact this service reduction has had on families; it has not been easy. I want to thank all of the individuals and families who travelled to deliver their children to create space for emergency and urgent care at Stanton during this period of low staffing. Your sacrifice helped us ensure continued care for those who needed it locally in urgent and emergent scenarios.

I would also like to recognize the staff at Stanton who have worked diligently throughout this reduction to continue providing services, while planning to resume them. I would like to thank the casual and agency staff who have come to fill shifts to add capacity as we move towards delivering additional services.

I want to again emphasize that the top priority for our health and social services system is safety. Current staffing levels will ensure safe care for our patients and clients, however if there is any point in the future where staffing levels are limited and safe care is not possible, we will adjust services as necessary.

Stanton and Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority leadership will continue to do everything possible to avoid any further service reductions, but the current realities of the nationwide shortage of skilled healthcare professionals, coupled with the impacts of COVID-19, particularly isolation requirements for impacted staff, are a reality we must manage within.

As we proceed with resuming services, Stanton will continue to recruit staff through a variety of means and is committed to addressing the concerns raised by current staff. We know that retaining the great staff we do have is even more critical than attracting new talent. Leadership will continue to work to ensure adequate staffing in this area by exhausting all possible avenues for recruitment, including pursuing indeterminate staff, casual, and agency nurses, and training and development of local staff to gain the skills needed to work in this specialized area.

In closing, I would like to recognize and sincerely thank our permanent local staff, who continue to be the backbone of the Obstetrics Unit and who have worked incredibly hard to orient newcomers and continue to deliver the high-quality services residents have come to expect and deserve.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.