Health-care workers in Nunavut get financial boost in face of staff shortages

The Nunavut Employees Union and the Government of Nunavut have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pay health-care workers more and attract staff to the territory through recruitment and retention bonuses and financial assistance for employees paying back student loans. 

Government, union sign agreement to give more to staff across the territory

Two men sit across from each other and shake hands while seated at a table.
Nunavut Employees Union President Jason Rochon, left, and Minister of Health John Main shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding on Friday. (David Gunn/CBC )

Health-care workers in the Government of Nunavut will see wage increases and retention bonuses, among other perks, in a new agreement the government is hoping will build up staffing.

The Government of Nunavut and the Nunavut Employees Union signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Iqaluit on Friday with measures to boost the recruitment and retention of health-care staff. 

The agreement comes amid a shortage of nurses and health-care staff across Nunavut, as well as a rotation of health centre closures and reductions in communities. 

"I tend to worry a lot when I look at the state of the health-care system in Nunavut and the needs of Nunavummiut, but today's a really happy day," said Health Minister John Main. 

The MOU applies to a variety of staff, including those employed in the hospital, health-care facilities and correctional facilities. 

"Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada and the world began to experience a shortage of health-care professionals, the effects of which severely impacted Nunavut's ability to staff health centres around the territory," Main said. 

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The MOU includes hourly wage increases, recruitment and retention bonuses and financial assistance for employees paying back student loans. 

It also includes a pilot program that offers tuition reimbursement in exchange for work in the territory. 

"We are poised to attract much-needed staff to the territory," Main said. 

He said that parts of the agreement will be retroactive and some workers will see payments made today. 

Jason Rochon, Nunavut Employees Union president, said he is optimistic about the agreement.

Rochon also said that the goal is to incorporate these new terms into a future collective agreement, but that a memorandum of understanding was a way to get things done faster. 

"This MOU is something that should be negotiated at a bargaining table, but we couldn't wait," Rochon said. 

"I'm looking forward to making sure that when we do get to the bargaining table, that we're really looking at doing things a lot differently."

The MOU is in place until August 1, 2025.


Emma Tranter


Emma Tranter is a reporter with CBC North in Iqaluit, where she’s worked in journalism since early 2019. Emma previously reported in Iqaluit for The Canadian Press and Nunatsiaq News. She can be reached at