Northern Health Care Matters - Northern Health Care Matters

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Tell governments to work together to fix the northern health care crisis

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Who are you?

We are advocates for northern health care who represent health care workers and their communities. This campaign is being sponsored by the Northern Territories Federation of Labour and the Yukon Federation of Labour.

What’s the problem with health care in the north?

  1. Health care workers are working in chronically understaffed conditions and are burning out.
  2. Governments are paying private companies millions of dollars to supply outside health care workers making double or triple the pay of northern workers. That money would be better spent on long term solutions that fix the system for good.
  3. Remote communities are left without reliable health care or need to travel for long periods of time to reach care.
  4. Lack of proper health care is a major gap in Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Recommendation 18 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in part, calls upon federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments “to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties”.
  5. Thousands of northern residents are being left without a family doctor or primary care provider.

What are the solutions?

Invest in fully-funded, permanent public sector solutions that build a strong northern health care system.

  1. Make it easier to hire health care workers.
  2. Create ongoing incentives to retain health care workers rather than one-time bonuses that cause division and don’t fix the problem.
  3. Incentivize and train northerners to become health care workers.
  4. Expand primary care and local access to diagnostic equipment.

Why is contracting out not the solution?

  1. It leaves northerners without consistent, trusted care providers that they can rely on.
  2. It’s more expensive. Already, it costs more to provide health care in the north than the south – so contracting out just adds to those costs. The federal government has spent more than $500 million over the past decade contracting out for health care services across the country, public money that overwhelmingly goes to private companies. These investments could instead go towards long-term solutions that fix the system for good.
  3. Contracting out is a band-aid solution that doesn’t develop made-in-the-north health care resources. It locks human resources into a cycle of chasing temporary workers, rather than finding long-term solutions to staff shortages.
  4. When health care workers come up only temporarily, the territories don’t benefit from the per-capita funding from the federal government that would come if they relocated permanently with their families.
  5. It creates divides among health care workers that harm retention: agency and fly-in health care providers make significantly more money than local ones, and are offered perks like subsidized hotel stays and meals that locals don’t get. Conversely, there’s a higher risk of temporary health care workers being treated badly because many don’t have the right to union representation.
  6. Northern, rural and remote health care is a unique subset of nursing which requires special training and experience. Temporary providers often lack this expertise. Locum providers are not familiar with local health care facilities, policies and procedures, which means they rely on permanent staff for additional orientation and training upon arrival.
  7. When staff positions are filled with contract workers, training programs struggle to find placements for students, making the problem even worse.

Take Action

Tell governments to work together to fix the northern health care crisis

Health care professionals are sounding the alarm, and we need to listen to them. The short-staffed health care system is leaving northerners without care.

Instead of spending millions on temporary contract workers from the south, we want our governments to invest in permanent, public solutions, like training northerners to provide health care. On hiring, northern governments aren’t moving fast enough to fill the gaps and need more modern hiring practices.

Moving forward Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous people means investing in northern health care. If we mobilize enough people, we can force elected officials to act.

Add your name now to join our campaign: