Publication date: Dec 01, 2023
Across Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic placed considerable stress on territorial and provincial healthcare systems. For Nunavut, the need to continue to provide access to critical care to its citizens meant that medical travel to provincial points of care (Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa) had to continue through the pandemic. This complexity created challenges related to the need to keep Nunavut residents safe while accessing care, and to manage the risk of outbreaks in Nunavut resultant from patients returning home. A number of strategies were adopted to mitigate risk, including the expansion of virtual care, self-isolation requirements before returning from Winnipeg, and a level of cross-jurisdictional coordination previously unprecedented. Structural limitations in Nunavut however limited opportunities to expand virtual care, and to allow providers from Manitoba to access the Nunavut’s electronic medical records of patients requiring follow up. Thus, known and long-standing issues exacerbated vulnerabilities within the Nunavut healthcare system. We conclude that addressing cross-jurisdictional issues would be well served by the development of a more formal Nunavut-Manitoba agreement (with similar agreements with Ontario and Alberta), outlining mutual obligations and accountabilities.