In today’s second session of the 19th Assembly of the Northwest Territories Premiere Caroline Cochrane and her cabinet were pressed by some MLA’s over recent confusion on “what’s happening at the border”.
As reported earlier today, the Premier had made a statement on CBC News, Monday, June 9th and later confirmed to Vista Radio through her office that Canadian residents are allowed into the territory but must self isolate for 14-days with a submitted self-isolation plan at one of four regional centres in the territory.
Later at the assembly, Rocky Simpson, MLA for Hay River South asked the Minister of Health and Social Services about rumors in the Hay River community that the NWT border will be “thrown open as of Friday.”
Diane Thom said the territorial government had come to the realization that the border restrictions in place were restrictive and possibly in contravention with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it relates to mobility and that policies were adjusted accordingly.
Simpson then pressed the Minister to clearly confirm “who will be allowed into the NWT under the new border rules.” Asking, “Is it going to be a free for all or do we have different people identified (for entry).”
Thom said the new order is primarily focused on people that are looking to move into the territories and are starting or looking for a job in the NWT as well as students who may want to study at a post-secondary institution.
She clearly states that leisure travel in the Northwest Territories is still prohibited and if you do not have a job offer, a letter of acceptance from a post-secondary institution, a signed statutory declaration along with the approved self-isolation plan from ProtectNWT or an exception for family reunification visits on compassionate grounds from the CPHO you will not be allowed to travel further in the territories.
She also says that if a submitted self-isolation plan is not approved and no acceptable alternative can be provided, you will be expected to do your 14-day self-isolation in one of the four GNWT operated self-isolation centres.
Thom then clearly says the NWT border is “Not a free for all”, but the Premier’s statements on Monday and Tuesday do open the territory up to any Canadian resident as long as proper self-isolation plans are in place and approved.
Julie Green, MLA for Yellowknife Centre then followed asking the Premier about the comments made on CBC News a day earlier.
Premier Cochrane said that issue with the border and mobility rights is something that cabinet has been discussing for the “last little while.”
She said, “It is an issue we didn’t really come to any firm conclusion on and we were just talking about it until actually this morning.”
Cochrane then explained that she wishes that the media gave her all the questions they plan to ask in advance, but that is not the reality she is in. She then apologized for not giving notice in the form of a press release before word of the decision reached the media.