The obstetrics unit at Yellowknife's Stanton Territorial Hospital will be receiving additional positions in an effort to address staffing shortages that suspended almost all birthing services until late February.
On Nov. 22, the N.W.T. government announced almost everyone planning to give birth at the hospital between Dec. 10 and Feb. 21 would instead be transferred to Edmonton, because there weren't enough nurses to staff the obstetrics unit.
Kim Riles, CEO of Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA), announced in a Tuesday news release the additional positions will not change the current staffing level on each shift but "should allow for more stability and increase the flexibility of staffing options."
The release did not include the number of approved positions.
As another incentive to employees, the NTHSSA announced that front-line healthcare workers in the N.W.T. will be eligible for a childcare cost reimbursement. Riles said these services will be available to employees who were required to be at the worksite as well those impacted by school, class, or daycare or day home closures.
The reimbursement will be retroactive to April 2021, covering all employees who were affected by the territory's two largest COVID-19 outbreaks — the N.J. Macpherson School outbreak in May 2021 and the outbreak that began in the Sahtú in mid-August 2021 and spread across the territory until late November.
The release said the NTHSSA is looking into additional changes to address the workers' concerns, including a series of face-to-face meetings between staff and leadership.
It also said the health authority is looking into additional compensation for staff, but added this will require consultation with human resources and the Department of Finance.
Riles said Stanton's chief operating officer initiated a review of the leave policy in November 2021, which is expected to be complete by January — the next major deadline for bulk leave requests.