The GNWT received more funding from the federal government to cover the costs of its COVID-19 protections.
The $30.7 million was part of the COVID-19 relief measures outlined in the Liberal government’s fall economic statement, presented in November.
The money is going towards covering the costs of the Covid Secretariat, and will provide funding for the isolation centres, the 8-1-1 COVID-19 information line and the ProtectNWT task force.
“The NWT has had strong protections in place since the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in the lowest numbers of cases in Canada,” Michael MacLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, said in a statement. “Following these effective public health strategies has worked well to combat the virus, but they have come with a financial cost.”
The territorial government announced Tuesday they were cutting costs for self-isolation centres by stopping paying for people’s self-isolation who travel for discretionary reasons.
While it was too early to estimate exact numbers, Premier Caroline Cochrane said at a press conference on Tuesday, a “substantial amount” of money would be saved.
“The impact of COVID-19 has dramatically revealed the inequities and particular vulnerabilities of the NWT as we work to protect the health and well-being of residents and our communities,” Cochrane said in a statement. “This investment from Canada is reflective of a mutual understanding of our unique needs.”
MLA’s had been critical of the amount being spent on the Covid Secretariat, as well as a majority of survey respondents from business groups and Indigenous governments being against continuing to pay for all isolation stays in isolation centres.
But finance minister Caroline Wawzonek defended the Covid Secretariat spending, saying a specific cost-benefit analysis had been conducted.
“The Government of Canada recognizes remote and Northern communities face unique challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs Canada, said in a statement. “This is why it is critical that we continue supporting all Northerners in their pandemic preparedness and response.”