This is page numbers 19 - 39 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 8th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was nurses.

Topics

Further Return To Question 10-13(8): Natural Gas Conversion Project Expansion
Question 10-13(8): Natural Gas Conversion Project Expansion
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 24

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Mr. Erasmus.

Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Health and Social Services. My questions are in relation to the Minister's statement on paying benefits to medical professionals in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, in the Minister's statement he had indicated that they had put together a group of stakeholders to decide what to do with the $3 million for the Recruitment and Retention Program. He also indicated that the government, or somebody had done a study which showed that NWT nursing salaries were the highest based salaries of nurses in Canada. Once they looked at the benefits they found that our compensation levels were still very competitive. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that given the fact that we have the highest cost of living in Canada, it is natural that we should have the highest based salary. Not only the highest based salary, it should be substantially higher than anybody else. Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister to indicate now, when he says we found our compensation levels were still competitive, could he describe that a little bit more fully so we get a better picture? Thank you.

Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Roland.

Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of detail accompanied with the answer that I could give the Member, but I know, just in the short of it, when we look at wages dollar for dollar, we were, in most jurisdictions or compared to most jurisdictions, doing quite well, but when you threw the benefits in, then we drop somewhat. It depends on the level of the nurse, how many years experience, if she is working at a community health centre or working at a regional hospital. There are a number of factors taken into that, but I can provide the Member with more of that information if he would like to do so at a later date. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Erasmus.

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I could rephrase my question. When you factor in the cost of living in the Northwest Territories, do we still have the highest rates of compensation of the nurses in Canada? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Roland.

Further Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the changes or the comparison that was done was based on wages and benefits. I do not believe the cost of living in different jurisdictions have come into that. Definitely, we agree that we need to be paying our nurses more and that is what we have done with the program or this market supplement. We see the shortage and we are already facing the difficulty of bringing new nurses into the Territories and we are trying to enhance more northern people to get involved in the nursing program so we know we have to be very competitive. Especially in light of cost of living and remoteness that many of our nurses work in. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Further Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Erasmus.

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister had also indicated in his statement that in May, we were experiencing a vacancy rate among all nurses of 20 percent but that now the rate is down to 10 percent. I was wondering if the Minister could indicate what level of experience do those new nurses have because I understand that, in the past, we have had inexperienced nurses going into communities and they have been medevacing a lot of people that perhaps should not have been medevaced and this was driving up our costs in this area. Could the Minister indicate what level of experience these 10 percent of nurses have that we have hired? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Roland.

Further Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, at the present time, I could not give you each nurse that we hired there, their ranking, years of history, work experience, and so on. But I believe that we have tried to recruit experienced nurses. Those that have less experience would not be put into, for example, community health stations, right off the start, we would like to have more experienced nurses in those centres. We know that there is much pressure put on those. That is one of the areas we are finding difficulties. Most of our vacancies that are occurring are in the smaller centres. So we are trying to attract the staff that has the professional expertise and adequate experience to work in those situations. As mentioned on numerous occasions here and other forums, that we are having difficulty attracting those.

That is why this government and all of us, as well as Members from the other side have worked together to try and come up with a competitive package that will attract nurses to the North. I think we have gone that step and we are trying to show we can support them as much as possible. But as well, in my Minister's statement, I suggested, and I state, and I think we should be clear on that, the wages are one portion of our Recruitment Retention Program. I think we all have duties, right from this level to the community level, to show the nurses, no matter if they are northern nurses or new nurses to the North, that we appreciate the work they do on behalf of us. Until we do that we are going to continue to find that we are going to have a hard time staffing these positions. A lot of times these nurses, whether they are from the north or from the south, have a fair bit of difficulty adjusting to working in the smaller centres and locations, and they need the support from the communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Further Return To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 25

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Final supplementary, Mr. Erasmus.

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to hear that we are doing something to recruit and retain nurses, but equally as valuable, or maybe even more, are the doctors. I know that we are having a problem recruiting doctors here in Yellowknife, so I would like to know if the Minister, if this plan includes anything for recruiting and retaining doctors, as well?

Supplementary To Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Question 11-13(8): Pay And Benefits To Medical Professionals
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 26

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Roland.