Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to put more resources toward elder care in Nunavut.
Singh held a news conference Thursday with Nunavut NDP MP Lori Idlout, following meetings with staff and elders at the Larga Baffin boarding home in Ottawa.
Singh said he saw a "stark contrast" between the people there, who would stay for a short time and were looking forward to going home, and the stories he's heard from advocates of the sadness and despair experienced by elders who can't go home because their communities don't offer the health services they need.
"We know that there's so much we can do. The stories that we heard compel us to use our platform to say the people of Nunavut, particularly elders, deserve better care," Singh said.
He called for government action on three points: to make significant investments in services to help Nunavummiut to live and age in their home communities; to make more investments into seniors' housing; and to improve conditions for Inuit elders, many of whom only speak Inuktitut, who have to move to Ottawa to receive care.
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Questioned by Singh in the House of Commons later Thursday, Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal defended the government's commitment to improving services in Nunavut.
"Health care is one of the priorities that's first on our schedule," he said, adding the government is investing millions of dollars in health care in the North.
The issue is a long-standing one in Nunavut, forcing elders and people with chronic health needs to leave their home and move to Ottawa or elsewhere in the country to get the treatment they need.
Elder care was named the top priority for Nunavut's new government.