Nunavut MLA worried about mounting debt to NWT
About $10 million owed to NWT for health services, says Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott
Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott says he’s concerned about Nunavut’s medical bills piling up when Nunavummiut travel to the Northwest Territories for health services.
As chair of the standing committee on government operations and public accounts, Elliott asked Nunavut’s health minister Keith Peterson how much Nunavut owes the NWT for using the Stanton Regional Hospital in Yellowknife.
Peterson said he didn’t have the numbers in front of him Sept. 10 at the legislative assembly.
But Elliott said that through his research he found the debt is “close to $10 million.”
“Last week my colleague from South Baffin asked a number of questions about the difficulties faced by our government officials based on fines in the territory,” Elliott said.
“It’s interesting that we as a government also find ourselves in the delinquent position of not paying our dues,” he said.
Elliott then asked what the government of the NWT is doing to collect the money from the GN.
Peterson answered by saying that the two governments are “in good conversation and good dialogue to discuss accounts payable [and] any accounts receivable.”
Elliott then pressed Peterson on when the GN will pay its debt.
“I appreciate minister Elliott working valiantly on behalf of the government of the Northwest Territories to have the government of Nunavut to pay our bills,” Peterson said.
“We will address the issue. I can’t give the details, but I assure Mr. Elliott that the level of concern we have is not as elevated as his concern is,” he said.
However, Elliott said he’s more concerned about interest rates that might be coming Nunavut’s way if the debt isn’t paid off.
“I don’t think outstanding debts [are] that uncommon because there’s money shifting back and forth all the time,” Elliott told Nunatsiaq News.
“What I saw was a problem was when I was reading the report that the public accounts committee did for the NWT — and it’s a concern for them enough that they are talking about and looking into the possibility of charging interest,” Elliott said.
Elliott said he isn’t exactly sure where all the money is owed to, or if it’s all from use of the Stanton hospital, but he said the majority of money is owed for health care costs.
Nunavut residents who live in the Kitikmeot region still receive many specialized health care services in Yellowknife.