Health and Wellness

Our amazing NWT Midwife during a home visit with our first child. This program was unfortunately cancelled in 2011.

Healthcare spending in the NWT is over $1000 per person, per month. For my family of five, this equates to over $60,000 per year. This is not sustainable. Government spending must place greater emphasis on prevention as well as supporting strong mental and physical health. Poverty is directly related to overall health and well-being. Reduce poverty and you will reduce healthcare spending. My platform proposes a number of ways to reduce poverty in Yellowknife and the NWT more widely. A number of these proposals are found under the “Housing” and “Education” tabs seen above.

Health Initiatives I Support

1. Improved Support for new mothers

The Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) model, which pairs new mothers with health care professionals, provides an excellent examples of how government spending can clearly support families and reduce government spending over the long-term.

The Nurse Family Partnership began in the USA in the 1970’s and has since expanded to numerous jurisdictions including British Columbia. The core of the program is connecting new mothers to registered nurses. The partnership is established during pregnancy and continues to the child’s second birthday. Visits are scheduled two to four times a month and last approximately 90 minutes. Research has demonstrated that the NFP has been associated with improved maternal and child health as well as improvements in economic security. A few of the remarkable child outcomes include:

• 67% less behaviour/intellectual challenges at age 6
• 59% reduction in child arrests at age 15
• 48% reduction in child abuse and neglect

“There is a magic window during pregnancy. It’s a time when the desire to be a good mother and raise a healthy, happy child creates motivation to overcome incredible obstacles including poverty, instability or abuse with the help of a well-trained nurse”

For more information about the NFP please visit:

2. In collaboration with Indigenous Governments, establish an on-the-land, culturally responsive, mixed use facility for:

    • Addictions and mental health

    • Cultural activities for Elders and youths

    • Family counselling
      For an excellent example of family counselling please click here.

    • On-the-land education

    • Accommodations for NWT marginalized citizens during State of Emergencies (Aurora Village near Yellowknife served this purpose during COVID).

The debate around whether the NWT needs its own on-the-land treatment centre is decades old. What is less contested, is that our current strategies to address mental health and addictions are not working. My proposal includes the construction of an on-the-land mixed-use facility. One month it may serve as a facility for addictions and recovery, while the next it may host secondary school biology students from across the NWT.

Most educators, health care professionals, and politicians recognize the potential for learning and healing from the land. Now is the time to support initiatives that make this a reality.

3. Innovative healthcare recruitment, retention, and training

The closure of the Yellowknife obstetrics unit in 2021, requiring expecting mothers to relocate to Edmonton to give birth, highlights the fragility of NWT Healthcare. Looking outside of Yellowknife confirms the reality: Currently, 14 of the 34 GNWT community health centres are operating at reduced capacity due to staff shortages.¹

A recent NWT Nursing Survey highlights a number of troubling trends:

    • Nearly 80% of nurses considered leaving their job in the last two years.

    • Next to compensation, work flexibility is the second most factor to influence whether they continue working in the NWT.

    • Just over 50% of nurses believe that recruitment and orientation was adequate.

Public healthcare is an essential service. The GNWT must prioritize recruiting, retaining, and training healthcare professionals through:

    • The provision of quality, subsidized public housing for new GNWT healthcare staff.

      If we want to attract healthcare professionals, we need to provide them with affordable, desirable accommodations. Vacancy rates in Yellowknife are at historic lows, which is directly impacting our ability to attract and retain staff.

    • Waive tuition fees for health-related programming at Aurora College. This is common in other jurisdictions, including Ontario.²

      Currently the Registered Nursing (RN) Program at Aurora College is not operating at capacity – despite wait lists at most Nursing programs in Canada. The Aurora College program is unable to fill all available seats.³ More must be done to attract students to this highly desirable program. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for students to be accepted into college programs in Yellowknife, but then decline because they are unable to secure housing. 

    • Provide healthcare practitioners flexible (part-time) employment options as well as opportunities for work related research, recruitment, and career advancement.

      The healthcare professionals I’ve spoken with clearly expressed a desire to improve NWT healthcare through staff recruitment, northern research, and professional development and training. 

4. Encourage community involvement through youth participation in art and sport

The benefits of involvement in community activities are widely documented for both seniors and youth. As a teacher and a parent, I am well aware of how youth involvement in the arts, sports, and on-the-land activities all serve to improve mental and physical health. Unfortunately, however, these opportunities are too often out of reach for many Northerners. I’m proposing a $500 Activity Fund for NWT youth and seniors with a household income under $125,000 per year.




  3. This was confirmed in a telephone conversation in September 2023.