No free ticket home for residents injured while outside NWT, says minister

Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, in the NWT Assembly on Thursday. Range Lake MLA Kieron Testart is at right, reacting to the content of Hawkins' inquiry. (Photo courtesy Assembly Livestream.)

Many medical costs for travellers are covered by the NWT Health Care Plan, but those still recovering in hospital will have to dig deep in their pockets to get home.

Sheryl Yakeleya , MLA for Dehcho, brought up the case of a Fort Providence constituent, who had recently gone to Edmonton on a weekend vacation. Well, he ended up getting hurt quite seriously and is in an Alberta hospital hoping to come home to recover.

Said Yakeleya: “This constituent feels abandoned, ignored and totally unsupported by this government during this time of need, which is not right. This constituent’s injury is significant enough that his family has also had to travel to Edmonton to be with him while he is hospitalized in the city. This situation is costing this constituent and his family a lot of unforeseen out of pocket expenses that are only increasing with each passing day, which as a result is creating a lot of unnecessary added stress that he should not have to deal with.”

Health Minister Lesa Semmler was sympathetic to the situation, but held fast to NWT Health’s policy, which is posted on its website. It recommends travel insurance, when travelling in Canada, your NWT Health Care Card covers you for medically necessary services provided by a doctor or in a hospital but does not cover all expenses such as ambulances or medevacs.

Sheryl Yakeleya, MLA for Dehcho, in the NWT Assembly on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Assembly Livestream.)

Semmler said: “We have agreements across Canada that if you have your health care card, and you can prove that you have health care insurance in your home province, you can have access to health … but you also have to be aware that some of the things that we cover in the Northwest Territories are not covered outside of in some provinces. That’s why it’s important that if you’re leaving the territory on your own, and you’re not being sent out by medical travel, then you should look at what kind of protections you have when you’re leaving.”

Also in the NWT Assembly today:

Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, questioned the process itself of asking questions during the Oral Question session. He bristled at what he considered to be a necessity to supply cabinet ministers with questions in advance. He asked if “there’s an expectation that members are here to set ministers up so they look really good?”

Health Minister Lesa Semmler in the NWT Assembly on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Assembly Livestream.)

Premier RJ Simpson denied there was a policy to submit questions in advance, saying it is just the way that we like to do business is by cooperating and communicating.” And the more advance notice of a question a minister has, he or she can then ensure they have a fulsome answer to provide the Assembly.

Richard Edjericon, MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, learned the community of Lutsel K’e will have a teacher for its high school next year. The last full-time teacher left in November, leaving substitutes to fill the gap.

And Denny Rodgers, MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake, praised the Gwichin Tribal Council’s re-opening of Gwichin Wellness Camp. Federal funding was received to renovate the camp and increase the amount of cultural spaces.

The federal funding provided helped renovate the interior and exterior of the camp build five yurts, walkways and purchase equipment such as snowmobiles, quads side by sides and landing craft for passengers.

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: