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Health housing worries mayor

Cam Bay health centre opens in 2005

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (May 12/03) - Cambridge Bay Mayor Keith Peterson is beginning to wonder whether there will be enough room at the new health centre when it opens in 2005.

Although he is sure it will be an added benefit for the region -- in terms of access to health care -- he is worried some patients and staff will be left out in the cold.

"We've got a housing crisis in Cambridge Bay," said Peterson.

"They need housing for 20 professionals, (they will) probably want to build this fall," he added.

He doesn't think there will be enough beds for patients when the health centre is complete, and questions whether there will be adequate accommodations for staff.

The new health centre is the first of three scheduled to be built across the territory.

Deputy minister of health Anne Crawford, however, said there is still plenty of time to build additional housing and boarding rooms for staff and patients.

Nonetheless, that's no comfort to Peterson. He said there is a lot more involved than just building houses. The hamlet needs time to budget for extra infrastructure.

"We're going to have to build roads and lots," he said.

He is flabbergasted that there have been no indications that the work is being done to meet the ancillary needs of the health centre.

Crawford, however, said that is not the case.

The department will be sending out a request for proposals in the near future to commission a needs assessment study in the communities.

Those studies will gather statistics to determine the expected usage of the boarding homes.

"You just don't build for today," she said.

The study will also allow the government to decide if they will go with a government or private model to construct patient accommodations.

In Iqaluit, the boarding home is run by the Elders Centre.

The federal government also funds some private facilities at a higher rate than territorial centres.

She said that the territory is aware of the project deadlines for the health centres, and she is confident all the necessary infrastructure will be in place by 2005.

"It's not a concern," Crawford said.