Northwest Territories announces incentives to attract and retain healthcare workers

These measures include referral incentives, as well as the openings for onboarding specialists

Northwest Territories announces incentives to attract and retain healthcare workers

The government of Northwest Territories is rolling out a string of incentives to help attract and retain healthcare professionals amid a staffing crunch in the province.

Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green said the incentives aim to stabilise services, following several closures and limitations in operations due to the staffing problems.  

"Recruitment and retention of health care workers is complex and requires a dedicated and multifaceted approach. These measures aim to attract new staff in key areas and add options for more flexible staffing in the short-term, as part of our phased approach to stabilising services," said Green in a statement.

The announced measures include granting all casual, term, and indeterminate front-line nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and physicians the opportunity to bring with them two loved ones to their place of employment during the holiday season.

"The programme will cover the cost of travel to the NWT, to a maximum of $2,000 per employee who is scheduled to work for a minimum of five days between December 20, 2022, and January 4, 2023," read the government announcement.

The government also announced a referral programme, where employees will receive $1,000 if they refer a registered nurse or nurse practitioner who will be hired. An additional $1,000 will be paid if the new hire stays for over one year.

In addition, the government also plans to expedite the licensing process for locum physicians, as well as reimburse the fees they paid for once they complete their contract. For international talents, the government will also shoulder the travel costs of physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses living abroad who want to work in the province. 

Read more: Northwest Territories rolls out remote working scheme

The government is also expanding skill mixes to include paramedics, who may now be contacted to provide acute care support to remote and isolated communities, as well as assist health centres and the Stanton Territorial Hospital.

To boost long-term retention, the government is also opening four new Onboarding Specialist positions to provide in-depth orientation for all new staff.

"Ensuring more available staff will relieve the pressure now on the health care system. We will continue to engage directly with staff regularly to identify and understand their concerns and find practical solutions to ensure that NWT residents receive the quality health care they deserve," said Green.

The new measures come as the province's health care system suffers from limited operations due to the staffing crunch for health care practitioners.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the measures will boost efforts to recruit, which will allow for further flexibility for existing employees and boost retention.

"We continue to work with all of our partners to develop and support solutions that will build a stronger health care system in the territory," said Wawzonek in a statement.

The Northwest Territory isn't the only province to offer incentives to boost the healthcare workforce - the Newfoundland and Labrador government also previously rolled out a string of measures to attract and retain nurses in the province.

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