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NWT looks to sign longer-term deal for health centre paramedics

The Inuvik Regional Hospital. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s health authority is looking to set up a longer-term contract that provides paramedics as backup staff for health centres and hospitals.

A pilot program began in the territory last year, while Nunavut has made extensive use of paramedics to address a shortage of nursing staff in many of its communities.

The NWT’s health authority, or NTHSSA, has now issued a request for proposals in the hope of establishing “a long term agreement between the NTHSSA and a third-party private contractor to provide ongoing supplemental services to cover emergency healthcare needs.”

The health authority wants a contract to start in July this year and run until the summer of 2025, with an option for extensions through to 2028.



Paramedics supplied under the contract would help to fill gaps at Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital, Inuvik’s hospital, Fort Smith’s healthcare centre and 14 other community health centres.

Whichever company is selected would provide “advanced or primary care paramedics from time to time” as required.

Announcing the pilot program in August last year, health minister Julie Green said copying Nunavut’s tactic of adding paramedics would “alleviate some of the pressure that comes from increased workloads and ensure we meet the acute care needs of NWT residents.”

At the time, Green said Nunavut was deploying up to 80 paramedics at once and northern Quebec had adopted a similar approach.

“I have confidence, based on the Nunavut example, that nurses and paramedics will be able to work effectively together,” the minister said.

While some NWT communities have reported recent improvements in the territory’s healthcare staffing crisis, seven communities reported either a reduced or emergency-only level of care last week.