Living in the North


While the price of vegetables or beef, or the sudden rise in the price of cauliflower, may sometimes make headlines in southern Quebec, the cost of goods is a serious and constant problem up North.

As a reference point, in Kuujjuaq, at the end of January 2020, a kilo of margarine was priced at $10.19, a big box of sugary cereal was $11.99, two pounds of clementines cost $4.99 and a litre of carbonated water (Perrier) cost $7.51. These are all prices from a flyer.

A federal government program has been set up to compensate for the extra cost of goods for remote communities throughout Canada. The Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay villages are among these isolated communities.

If the communities have relatively good services, then they can also order things from southern Quebec. When it comes to food up North, people also get to know unique products that are part of the traditional Inuit or Cree culture. These products are also included on menus for patients in healthcare institutions.

Approximately 29% of the Inuit, 15 years of age or older, have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months.

Read about the troubling cost of life in Nunavik (article in French)

Transportation and cargo

Transportation costs and authorized trips out for healthcare professionals and their companions are covered by their employer. The cost of transporting personal belongings is also covered up to a maximum number of kilograms.


“A healthcare professional was arriving the next day and guess what? I didn’t have lodgings for them. At that time, the hotel was quite booked up. We can’t always pull things out of thin air. We have new positions but there isn’t always housing. For someone who is contemplating returning south, a good place to live will be the deciding factor.”

Benoit Dicaire

When healthcare professionals have housing included with their position, the housing shortage in these territories creates complex situations leading to sharing lodgings and waiting. It is one of the main areas that needs improvement, which we mentioned several times during the tour. This situation also affects the local population who don’t get to choose their housing: « Les logements vacants se font aussi rares que les arbres, au Nunavik » (article in French)

What would you say to a healthcare professional interested in practicing in the Far North?

“I would simply say ‘Go for it!’. It’s hard to truly know if we are made for it until we try. Up North, before we are seen as human beings, we are first seen as healthcare professionals, politicians, a visible minority… But we are also members of the community.” – Benoit Dicaire

“I would tell them to go. To not limit themselves. To fully embrace the extended role because there’s so much to learn. The North allows you to focus on what you want to achieve, as well as to grow and forge ties with all kinds of people.”
Cyril Gabreau

“That it’s an experience they will never regret. It’s true that it’s difficult, more for some than others, but if you take the time to adapt, to make the culture your own, then you see the positive side. Like they say over there… Even if you leave the North, the North never leaves you.” Nagia Idel Mehdaoui

For more information

Healthcare institutions

Talking about the North