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With jobs unfilled, more cuts to NWT speech therapy, occupational therapy

The Stanton Medical Centre, where speech-language pathology in the NWT is based. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The Stanton Medical Centre, where speech-language pathology in the NWT is based. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Speech-language pathology and occupational therapy in the Northwest Territories are being further cut back because too few staff are available.

On Monday, the territory’s health authority said a service reduction in schools that began years ago will continue for the coming academic year, and travel clinics to Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region will be suspended.

Pausing those Kitikmeot clinics will “allow community-based travel clinics in the NWT to continue, with the goal of maintaining access for NWT residents to these services as close to home as possible,” a statement read.

In-school services will be available only for people with “priority needs.” The health authority said this included students aged under five or older students who have a severe communication delay or disorder, or who are at risk of injuring themselves or others, or have mobility or other difficulties.

Only five of the NWT’s 13 speech-language pathology jobs are currently filled, the health authority stated. Half of the 16 occupational therapy positions “will be vacant as of August 2023.”



The health authority stated it “continues to work to review service delivery to ensure we are best meeting the needs of the population we serve, while ensuring limited resources are targeted at those who need them most.”

The authority added it “continues to focus on marketing the NWT as a great place to live and work,” but circulated a range of statistics that made the prospect of a resolution seem bleak.

In a statement on its website, the authority said the gap between Canada-wide positions in these fields and available workers was expected to grow into the thousands over the next decade.

In June, the authority added, an employee counted 976 speech-language pathologist and 1,479 occupational therapist job postings in Canada – around twice the number of new graduates, annually, in each field.

Current wait times in the NWT for these services are around four to six months, the authority stated.