Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Absolutely. The COVID secretariat was not something that just came up and we said we are going to have a new agency because we had nothing better to do. It came out of trying to do the best we could. Again, when COVID-19 struck, every single department -- and again, I give nothing but credit to those employees who stood up and said, "I will help to try to save our residents of the Northwest Territories." They were doing it off the sides of their desks, some of them doing that full-time and trying to do their normal jobs off the side of the desk. It was unsustainable. Again, I know that I heard that we did not talk about MLAs, we did not talk to the Indigenous governments.
As soon as COVID-19 hit, Mr. Speaker, we met regularly. EIA met regularly, every single week, with the Indigenous governments. We had weekly meetings every Friday, and I know that the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs met regularly with the municipal governments, as well, because I went to some of those meetings, as well, Mr. Speaker. Every meeting we went to, Mr. Speaker, they said, "Provide more. We are scared. Please help us. We want firmer, more border controls. We want more isolation. We do not want them in our communities. We need to have PPE. We are scared. Tell us what to do. Give us a connection." We tried to accommodate, Mr. Speaker, and so, yes, the money did rack up. However, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about safety.
Then again, Mr. Speaker, when I went to the airport -- I still owe an MLA some money for masks -- to pick up some masks, and I had the opportunity to talk to the border patrol at the airports, they were very humble, but they said to me, "Premier, we cannot keep it up. It's not sustainable. We are working seven days a week. Sometimes, we are working double shifts trying to do it." I heard that, Mr. Speaker. I think that the role of this government is really to make sure that the health and safety of people comes first, and I take that seriously, my role in that.
The secretariat is not something that came up because it was something to do. We have not even had time to think of things to do. We have just been go, go, go. The secretariat came up because the Indigenous governments and the people of the Northwest Territories were asking for more supports, and the people who were providing those supports said they could not do it. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, businesses were saying "Open up the GNWT." We had pressure that was saying, "Use your resources. Keep the borders controlled. Keep the isolation," but, "Get back to business." We can't do both, so we make a choice. If the secretariat does not go through within this supplementary, we go back to making a choice, Mr. Speaker: do we have business as usual, continue with these mandates, or do we focus on the secretariat, on the isolation and the border patrols? Those are tough choices I have to make. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.