The Premier of Northwest Territories held a press conference this morning updating the public on the territory’s response to COVID-19.
Premier Caroline Cochrane says on the Canada-wide front, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are those who are leading the national response. She says Premiers are those leading the provincial, territorial and local responses.
“The challenge COVID-19 presents to the NWT requires a team approach from cabinet if we are to manage it successfully.”
As the leader of the team, Cochrane says it is her responsibility to take a more hands on role in managing and leading the government`s response as Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.
In her opening remarks, she said “Overseeing this collaborative effort is consistent with the Premier’s responsibilities to provide consistent overall management and direction to the executive branch of government of the NWT as set out in the Executive and Indigenous Affairs Establishment Policy.”
As MACA, Cochrane will be responsible in providing leadership and direction to the Emergency Management Order organization which is responsible for coordinating the NWT Emergency Management Activities.
In this role she will be working closely with Associate Deputy Minister Russel Neudorf, and EMO director Ivan Russel to provide all their support to the Chief Public Health Officer and ensure the entire government and ensure the entire government is working to implement and enforce her orders to protect public health.
The Premier says nothing has changed in terms of our response. The cabinet is collaboratively working on these measures, but if something does come up that would be needed to be addressed immediately and directly, the Premier is in Yellowknife and has the access needed to handle any matters. The Premier reiterated that this decision was made in response to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and not due to any shortcomings from the previous Minister.
Cochrane says due to her previous experience in holding the role for 2 past years, she has the required skill set and initiative to be able to more appropriately and more effectively respond to any upcoming situations. Also as Premier, Cochrane had to stay up to date on all items relating to the Emergency Management Order and is well knowledged with all correspondences that may have occurred on the matter.
The Premier says that in terms of future measures new orders are potentially expected to be announced over the following days as a clarification of the definition of what the enforcement will be looking like. Cochrane says following these past weeks efforts in setting up enforcement measures and preparing the different departments, the next step is ensuring enforcement is active.
The Premier carried an important notification to all residents in the NWT, that “we are serious, and we need you to take this seriously. The only way we are going to protect lives oin the NWT is by everyone working hard to obey the CPHO`s orders. We always know that there are sometimes outliers, and we will not accept outliers. This is a life or death situation and we will do what it takes to protect out residents.”
Premier Cochrane said that the territorial state of emergency will align with the CPHO`s health emergency as such the order will be in place up till April 14th. If the pandemic is still where it is today by the 14th, a new order will be signed by both the Premier and Dr. Kami Kandola accordingly.
Premier Cochrane said that it only takes one person ignoring the recommendations of the CPHO’s order and going out, gathering with those who do not live with you, or partying with friends, for the territory to have community spread of COVID-19. She then added that until or if we do see community transmission, that is when we might need to start building projections and models to help with the response to COVID-19 in the territory.
Cochrane also reiterated the territory`s stance on revealing COVID-19 positive patents` information to either the public or leaders of local communities. The Premier said that not even the highest position in the territorial government can access that information, referring to herself, as such she respects and supports the measures in place and the CPHO`s decisions regarding the matter.