Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that there are about 65 funded community health nurse positions across the Northwest Territories, and we run about an 18.5-percent vacancy on those. We are constantly out recruiting and trying to find nurses to come into our community health centres on a permanent basis.
Given that many of our nursing stations are small, with three or four nurses, when one of those individuals is either sick or has to leave on short notice, there are definitely some service impacts on that. When we know that individuals are leaving or coming to an end of a term, we have an opportunity to bring in locums and other individuals to cover coverage, but sometimes we do have, sort of, more surprise vacancies and those types of things. We are doing our best to make sure that the communities are aware. We are providing the information to communities when there are those sudden changes.
We do struggle, Mr. Speaker, with the recruitment of nurses to some of these advanced practice nursing roles. It is a specialty-type position, and we really need individuals with a wide range of skills. There are aren't as many of those individuals as we would like, but we keep recruiting. We will continue to recruit. I have given the department direction to anticipatory hire in these types of positions so that we can bring in as many people as we can. Until such a time as we get the number of nurses that we need with the tenure that we need, we will probably still have to rely on some locum coverage in our small communities. That is not desired, obviously; we would prefer to have a continuum, but it is a challenge. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.