Shortage of long-term care beds in N.W.T. set to quadruple

'By 2026, this government's going to be 259 beds short in long-term care,' said Health Minister Glen Abernethy in the legislature Monday. 'This is a significant number.'

'By 2026, this government's going to be 259 beds short in long-term care,' Health minister says

'We have a significant challenge in front of us,' said Health Minister Glen Abernethy. 'I'm looking forward to bringing the report to committee and having discussions on how we can move forward on this.' (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

The shortage of long-term care beds for seniors in the N.W.T. will more than quadruple in the next decade, according to Health Minister Glen Abernethy.

"By 2026, this government's going to be 259 beds short in long-term care," he said in the legislature Monday, citing a recently completed review of long-term care, which he pledged to share in the coming weeks. "This is a significant number."

The current shortage of beds is around 60, according to Abernethy. 

"It's actually much larger than I had anticipated," said Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green in response.

According to Abernethy, 47 of the beds needed are in the Beaufort Delta, 10 are in the Sahtu, 29 in the Deh Cho, five the Tlicho region, 123 in Yellowknife, 31 in the South Slave and 14 in Fort Smith.

On average, it costs the government about $130,000 a bed to operate a long-term care in the N.W.T., Abernethy said. Construction can cost anywhere from $800,000 to $1.5 million per bed.

"We have a significant challenge in front of us," the minister said. "I'm looking forward to bringing the report to committee and having discussions on how we can move forward on this."

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