North

Fort Simpson, Tulita health centres delayed to 2022-23

Leaders in Fort Simpson and Tulita say plans to build health centres in their communities have been delayed because of the plan to build a new $300 million Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

'That health centre had mice running around it and broken walls and floors,' says Sahtu MLA

Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya says Tulita desperately needs to replace the existing health centre, but the territorial government is putting the needs of the capital city ahead of those in the communities. (CBC)

Leaders in Fort Simpson and Tulita say plans to build health centres in their communities have been delayed because of the plan to build a new $300 million Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

Sean Whelley, the mayor of Fort Simpson, says former Health Minister Sandy Lee told the village in 2009 that there was a five-year plan for a new health centre.

"We're at the six-year point and we're still nowhere any closer to getting a health centre," Whelley says.

Nahendeh MLA Kevin Menicoche says in 2013 the government planned to construct Fort Simpson's new health centre by 2016. But in 2014, the plans were deferred to the 2017 budget. During the most recent session of the legislature, it was put off once again.

Boreal Health Partnership's rendering of the new Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife. It's expected to cost $300 million and open by 2021. (submitted by the Government of the Northwest Territories)

"I was disappointed to find out it's been slated for the 2022-2023 capital budget," Menicoche says.

"I got support from my colleagues. We went to the finance minister, said 'OK, this is still a priority let's move it to 2017-18 where it's supposed to be.' They say, 'Oh no, wait 'til the new assembly.'"

Menicoche says the government's own engineers say the existing health centre needs to be replaced.

"Right now, there's many other priorities and I suppose Stanton is definitely one of their priorities."

'I'd love to have $50M a year to come to my community'

Norman Yakeleya, the MLA for the Sahtu, says construction of a health centre in Tulita was also supposed to start this year or next, but it has also been delayed until the 2022-2023 budget.

He says the community desperately needs to replace the existing health centre.

"That health centre had mice running around it and broken walls and floors. It's not a good place to have our nurses in," Yakelya says.

He says building a new health centre in Tulita would cost $14 million.

"It should've been done, it could've been done. We just don't have the will or desires of the ministers to make it happen. It's out of sight, out of mind.

"But hey, we got a new hospital coming up with Stanton, I'd love to have $50 million a year to come into my community."

Neither the territory's health minister nor the minister of public works was immediately available to respond.

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