Kiguti Dental is leaving
Funding cuts force dentists out of region

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Apr 29/98) - Kiguti clinics across the Keewatin are closing down, leaving residents unsure about who will be looking after their teeth when the company shuts its doors for good in 90 days.

Kiguti Dental Services Ltd. is calling it quits following a 35 per cent funding cut handed down by the federal government at the beginning of this month.

Dr. Hassan Adam, president of the not-for-profit company he and an Inuit holding company, Tapiriit, run, said that the cuts make it impossible to operate the clinics and will make it difficult to attract other dentists to the region.

"I just can't see private-practice dentists coming to the Keewatin," he said, following a recent visit to Rankin Inlet.

"There will be quite a number of clinics closing down. It does hurt all of them because of the difference between operating in Yellowknife and the communities."

The federal government, as part of its plan to standardize fee guides across the NWT, cut its payment rates in the Keewatin by 35 per cent, the Kitikmeot 10 per cent, and the Baffin 10 per cent as of April 1. Hit the hardest because the region was receiving more funding, Keewatin dentists are the first to cave in under the cuts.

Adam said there will be a definite reduction in service after Kiguti leaves and he predicts little money will be saved in the long term without dentists who live in the region.

"Toothaches will have to be flown out without residential dentists," he said. "But that comes out of a different budget. There will be no accountability or continuity. It's a drop-in service."

Adam said he was told by the Keewatin Regional Health Board that there is no other funding that can make up for the federal cut.

"The KRHB has told us they have no other funds," he said.

Health board officials were unable to be reached for comment.

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