Avens CEO heads for Nunavut Stephen Jackson says eastward move will bring him closer to aging family in Ontario
Northern News Services
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Stephen Jackson set a goal to memorize the names of the more than 100 staff members at Avens when he took the role of its chief executive officer in September 2015.
He's almost done that, nearly a year and a half later.
But now he's going to need to learn a whole new set of names when he begins a new job in Nunavut later this month.
Jackson gave notice in December that he would be leaving Avens, a community for seniors.
His last day as CEO will be Feb. 17 and he starts his new role in Iqaluit leading the long-term care services for the Government of Nunavut on Feb. 27.
"It's a good opportunity for me to leverage what I've learned at Avens and contribute to another territory which has equally as long waiting lists and needs for their seniors and elders," Jackson said in an interview Wednesday in his office.
Ron Allen, president of Avens, said head-hunting firm Davies Park has been hired to find Jackson's replacement.
"We want it done right. There's some pretty big shoes to fill," said Allen, adding the organization is in good shape in terms of staffing and programs.
Director of finance and administration Morgan Gebauer will serve as acting CEO.
The outgoing CEO said he's moving eastward to be closer to his family back in Ontario.
"I've got aging parents in the Ottawa area. As you age, your health starts to deteriorate and so I'm wanting to be able to be closer," he said.
Jackson called his departure "bittersweet" and said he'll miss the staff and residents.
The facility has 29 residents in Aven Manor, 28 in its dementia facility and 32 units of independent housing - some of which have couples. There are 12 people on a waiting list for long-term care beds, though that doesn't include those whose applications are still being processed.
"This has been a wonderful job," he said. "It's been a great year-and-a-half. I've learned a lot and I think we've brought the organization forward in quite a few ways."
Jackson, 47, said he planned to stay in Yellowknife three to five years when he arrived in 2001.
He said his wife and two daughters will remain in the city until the end of the school year before joining him in Nunavut. As part of the transition, he plans to take lessons in Inuktitut.
He told Yellowknifer that when he started, his top priority was addressing the lack of beds or homes for seniors in the NWT. Avens has been trying to secure funding from the GNWT for an expansion and has even prepared the property where it would be built.
So far nothing has been announced.
"We have been meeting regularly on plans to eventually expand the Avens campus - we can't really go into a lot of details of those plans," Jackson said, adding the organization has gone from meeting with the government every few months to weekly.
"That's probably a good indicator of some good intent to do more for our seniors in the NWT," he said.
Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy told MLAs during a Feb. 9 committee meeting that the GNWT is working with Avens to provide "support" to add 48 beds.
It's not the only planned expansion of beds in the city.
Premier Bob McLeod recently announced part of the current Stanton Territorial Hospital will be re-purposed as an extended care facility once the new hospital of the same name is complete.
A report by the territorial government estimates 11.6 of the population in 2034 will be 70 or older, resulting in a shortfall of 467 long-term care beds.