A proposed 48-bed long-term care facility in Hay River will now be reduced to 24 beds, with the remainder to be built in Fort Smith instead.
Health and social services minister Julie Green made the announcement in the legislature on Friday, responding to questions from Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson.
A day earlier, the territorial government more than halved its estimate of the number of long-term care beds it will require across the NWT by 2034.
The GNWT reduced its estimate from the creation of 435 beds to 169, saying a new methodology had been used and the drop would “require a shift in the department’s current plans for capital spending in several NWT communities.”
Plans to build new 48-bed long-term care facilities in Hay River and Inuvik have been on hold since last year. At the time, the GNWT said it needed more than $30 million to cover increased construction costs before going ahead.
In the legislature on Friday, Simpson said the NWT government’s drastic downward revision of its bed requirements had led residents of Hay River to become “excited, and not in a good way” about the future of its proposed long-term care facility.
Noting the 48-bed building remains in the NWT’s capital budget, Simpson asked Green for clarity on its future.
“The bed projection for Hay River is now 24 beds,” the minister responded. “What happened to the other 24? They’re going to Fort Smith, where there is a need for more long-term care. The overarching goal here is to help people age in place.”
Simpson, referring to that as a “watered-down” plan for Hay River, asked if there would at least be the prospect of more employment in the home care sector as the NWT tries to help more Hay River residents age in place.
Green said that would be the case, though she could not say how many home care workers would be needed, nor how many jobs would now not be created with the reduction from 48 to 24 beds at the care facility.
“We recognize that for people to stay at home as long as possible, they will need home care support for their everyday tasks,” said the minister.
“There will be more home care resources required in Hay River and in other communities in the NWT.
“The department is planning for that by entering into a partnership with Aurora College to enhance training.”
The minister did not touch on the future of Inuvik’s on-hold long-term care facility.