Sixty new jobs for long-term care facility in Hay River

On September 20, 2017 the Minister of Health and Social Services announced plans to construct a 48-bed long-term care facility in Hay River. Below are the questions I asked on September 26th, 2017 regarding the new facility.

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The government recently announced that a 48-bed long-term care facility, pending approval of this capital budget, will be built in Hay River. There is no detail in the capital plan other than a completion date of 2021, so I’d like to know: when can we expect this project to break ground? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Health and Social Services.

HON. GLEN ABERNETHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there is still a lot of planning to do and a lot of work that needs to be done. I’ll have to confirm with the department when we think we might actually be able to break ground. Before we break ground, a significant amount of work does have to happen. We have to find potential partners; we have to find potential builders. We’re looking at the H.H. Williams site. That building will likely have to come down before we get there. I will get more information for the Member to get as close to a potential break ground date, recognizing that a lot of work has to happen between now and then.

MR. SIMPSON: I was also going to ask potentially where this could be located, but he did mention the site of the old hospital, so I assume that’s what they’re looking at. Will this be operated by the GNWT or will this be under the authority of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority?

HON. GLEN ABERNETHY: Mr. Speaker, there’s still a discussion ongoing around that. There are some potential partners who have indicated they would like to follow an Avens-type model in Hay River, so it could be something like Avens, but we haven’t made that final conclusion or decision.

It could be the Hay River Authority; it may not be. I think there’s a lot of interest in the community on doing things a little different, being a little creative about how we actually provide those services to the residents of the community as well as South Slave, and we’re open to all possibilities at this point in time.

MR. SIMPSON: A very intriguing answer. The big question is: how many positions can we expect at this new facility? How many jobs are we looking at?

HON. GLEN ABERNETHY: Mr. Speaker, it’s a little early to give concrete, definitive numbers, but I can give some rough numbers that we’re looking at today. The most efficient way to build long-term care beds in the Northwest Territories is 24-bed pods. We find that we’re going to get the best value for money and be able to provide the greatest degree of safe services for residents.

Based on a 48-bed facility, which is basically two pods, what we’re looking at is about 60 positions. That would include direct care staff, which is RNs, LPNs, resident care aides, and for a 48-bed facility that’s about 38.5 positions, including relief, because we need to be able to ensure that we’re providing 24/7 care. People do go on holidays, people do call in sick, so we need relief to cover that.

Those aren’t the only staff who would be in this type of facility, Mr. Speaker. We would need managers, supervisors, admin, housekeeping, laundry, cooks, activity aides, coordinators. We’re anticipating that based on existing models and modifying for 24-bed facilities that’s about 17.5 positions, not including relief. We’re hovering around 60 positions, and that would be true both for Hay River as well as Inuvik, because we’re looking at 48-bed facilities in both those communities.

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, this represents a lot of skilled positions. Considering there’s a facility planned for Inuvik, as well, that’s a lot more positions. How is the government preparing our labour force for this future? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. GLEN ABERNETHY: Mr. Speaker, we’re still a few days away from actually opening these facilities, so we have some time to do some training. When it comes to one of our more recent facilities, the facility in Norman Wells, we worked with local partners as well as Aurora College to provide some training for resident care aides. We can certainly explore that model. I think there’s great training out there where we can train local people for local work, and at the end of the day that’s what we would like to do: local people, local work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.