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Nunavut won't revive health boards, official says

The Nunavut government says it will not bring back regional health boards, despite a request from community leaders to have them reinstated.

The Nunavut government says it will not bring back regional health boards, despite a request from community leaders to have them reinstated.

The Nunavut Association of Municipalities recently passed a motion demanding the return of regional health boards, which were phased out after Nunavut became its own territory in 1999.

The association argues that health boards would give communities more say in a health-care system that some believe is broken today.

But deputy health minister Peter Ma, whose department took over the regional boards' responsibilities, said the boards are not coming back.

"The department has what we call community health committees," Ma told CBC News in an interview.

"That's the mechanism, or one of the mechanisms, that we have for communities to have their input into the health and social services system."

Mixed reviews

The community health committees have been getting mixed reviews, with some hamlets reporting that they have good volunteers that are communicating with government, even if they don't always get the results they want.

But other hamlets have described their local health committees as useless. Ma acknowledged that some committees are not functioning well.

"At the same time, we all have to make the effort to make sure it works because that is the mechanism for going forward at this point in time," he said.

In addition to seeking more local control over health care, the association also wants more doctors and nurses in Nunavut communities.

"All of our front-line workers do the best that they can everyday, given our current human resources capacity challenges," Ma said.

"I think, by and large, the level of health care is actually pretty good in the territory."

Ma added that the same challenges Nunavut's health-care system faces would still be there if it went back to the regional health board system.

"I think the primary challenge that everybody is facing is human resource capacity. So even if we move back to a board system we'd still have to have people to run it," he said.

The Nunavut government has not yet responded directly to the Nunavut Association of Municipalities on the health board issue or to its request for a meeting with Health Minister Tagak Curley.