The Nunavut Senior’s Society and Long-Term Eldercare in Nunavut

By Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia - A Forest of Walking Sticks, CC BY-SA 2.0, Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia - A Forest of Walking Sticks, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The Nunavut Seniors Society began operations January 29, 2018. The non-profit senior’s advocacy organization hopes to provide an organized voice for seniors in Nunavut. The group has not yet announced its objectives. One possible focus area is the shortage of long-term care beds for seniors in Nunavut.

The Nunavut Senior Society was registered in 2013, and it spent the last 4 years working out funding. Its founders settled on founding the organization following their assessment based on visits around half of Nunavut’s communities, deciding that establishing the society was necessary to provide an organized voice for seniors in Nunavut. Nunavut is the last Canadian province or territory to have a senior’s advocacy group. The organization currently exists only in Iqaluit, but the CBC reports that its board president, Lazarus Arreak, hopes the society will expand to smaller communities in Nunavut.

The Nunavut Seniors Society has not revealed what issues it will be looking to address, only stating that it hopes to hold a meeting in Rankin Inlet in September. However, it is possible that the group will look to address the lack of long-term eldercare facilities in Nunavut. As reported by the CBC in October, there were 27 beds total in long-term care facilities for elders who were no longer able to live at home. These beds are in Igloolik, Gjoa Haven, and Cambridge Bay. There are more than 1,400 persons over 64 in Nunavut. There is a clear gap in the support system, even factoring in assisted living facilities in Iqaluit, Baker Lake, and Arviat. This gap is affecting Nunavut’s citizens – the CBC reports that a growing number of elders are being sent to residential care facilities in southern provinces.

The Nunavut legislature has been aware of issues in the territory’s eldercare system for several years now, but it was a particularly prominent issue in the 2017 election. Several MLA candidates made eldercare a central issue addressed in their platforms, including Cathy Towtongie, elected as MLA for Rankin Inlet North/Chesterfield Inlet, and Lorne Kusugak, elected as MLA for Rankin Inlet South. The legislature has taken steps to address this shortage, reportedly investigating the possibility of supporting the construction of more facilities through third party infrastructure investing.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.