A former cabinet minister from Nunavut is calling on MLAs to improve elder care in the territory this election.
Manitok Thompson and some of her friends have started a petition calling on the government of Nunavut to build an elder home in every community and improve existing ones.
They are also asking the government to build skills in each community to meet elders' healthcare needs and introduce care plans to bring every elder home.
Thompson said the lack of elder care and elder homes in Nunavut means a lot of families have to live apart from each other, with many elders being moved to care homes in Ottawa.
"We know that [elders] want to stay with their families and with their communities, but they're being moved from one community to the next," she said.
"They're very isolated, they're lonely, a lot of them don't return."
There's been a growing number of elders sent to residential care facilities in the South, like Embassy West in Ottawa over the years.
'Get those funds, build these homes'
Thompson said building capacity within Nunavut will stop the government from sending elders out of the territory and spending "millions of dollars to buy these services in Ottawa."
The Nunavut government confirmed in an email there are now 41 elders from the territory in the Ottawa care home last month, the CBC reported last month.
While the territory faces severe infrastructure challenges and inequality in housing, health care, transportation and education compared to other Canadians, Thompson said the government must prioritize building elder care homes in each community — and that it's not difficult to find funding for it.
"There's lots of funding in the federal government under the healing funds and Truth and Reconciliation funds. There are millions," she said. "Get those funds, build these homes."
Moving forward, Thompson said she is looking for volunteers in every community who can get the word out about the petition.
Those who are interested in signing the petition but not sure where to find it can reach out to her on social media.
Thompson said she would like community members to sign the petition by Oct. 25 so that it can be shared at the first sitting of the MLAs following the territorial election.