Health
Politics

Edjericon returns to healthcare issues after one-day suspension


Richard Edjericon returned to the issue of healthcare in small communities on Thursday, two days after being temporarily barred from the legislature over his comments.

Discussing healthcare in communities like Fort Resolution on Monday, the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA had accused health minister Julie Green of “gaslighting” patients, attempting to silence criticism, and presiding over “disastrous” treatment.

Green said Edjericon’s comments were “over the line.”

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On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr agreed and asked Edjericon to apologize.

When Edjericon refused to do so, Blake ordered him out of the sitting for the day. The same punishment had been issued to Jackson Lafferty when the then-Monfwi MLA refused to apologize to Premier Caroline Cochrane in 2020.

“I’m just representing my constituents, bringing their issues forward, and I will stand by my remarks,” Edjericon said – appearing by video link – shortly before being ordered out.

Restored to the legislature, Edjericon on Thursday raised the issue of how mental health challenges are handled in small communities like Fort Resolution.

Describing an incident in which “a young woman had attempted suicide,” Edjericon argued the proper care had not been provided. The woman was brought to the health centre by family who hoped she would be admitted for further assessment and treatment in Yellowknife, but the woman was released from the health centre with Tylenol pills, Edjericon stated.

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“The lack of care available in the community is heartbreaking,” he said.

Quoting from the auditor general’s report on addictions treatment in the NWT, released this week, Edjericon said concerns about a lack of coordination among health agencies were “particularly true with respect to our small communities.”

“We can do better. Enough precious lives have been lost already … it’s time to take a serious look at healthcare and mental health supports in small communities,” he said.

The chief operating officer of Yellowknife’s health and social services authority, which has responsibility for Fort Resolution, visited the community last month.

Green, responding to questions from Edjericon, said senior staff were examining “ways communication could be improved within the community, and between the community and the health authority.”

“The service levels are a concern,” the minister said.

“We’re very short of nurses and that applies to Fort Resolution as it does to other places.”

Responding to a question in which Edjericon asked whether Fort Resolution had a specific plan in place, Green said: “Finding staff is done on a system-wide basis. We don’t have a plan that singles out particular communities. Everyone is considered at the same time.”

On Friday afternoon, the NWT government is set to brief reporters on what appears to be a new plan involving healthcare staff.

Green is expected to appear at the briefing regarding the NWT Health and Social Services System Human Resources Plan.

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