This is page numbers 1035 - 1054 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was health.

Topics

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Ensuring small communities can respond to the COVID-19 has been a top priority for the authorities and in their planning after this pandemic. We also recognize that they are our most vulnerable part of our health system should an outbreak occur. The first priority is, of course, to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in our small communities, which the CPHO has constantly expressed and has taken action to ensure. Nonetheless, we need to be prepared to respond should this happen. The first priority will be on preventing the spread of COVID-19. This means we have to be focusing on training for testing, including in the communities where there is no resident nurse; readiness to contact trace anyone who tests positive and make sure all possible contacts are tested; sending in staff to also support, virtual technology to ensure that staff are ready to support self-isolation and monitoring of any residents who test positive have been contacted. In the event that the resident becomes ill with COVID-19, we may need to transfer to them to a hospital for care. The authorities have also mapped out a detailed process to move patients to hospital centres like Stanton to receive this care in the most seamless way possible.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Thebacha.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. How is the Department of Health and Social Services working to ensure that small communities and regional centres are equipped with proper PPE and medical procedures to ensure that all residents are properly looked after in future pandemics or even in other emergencies? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority monitors the inventory of swabs for COVID testing and the PPE stock to ensure that community has adequate stock. There is also an inventory maintained for emergency drugs used in COVID-19 for each of the communities to ensure that they have sufficient stock. Oxygen supplies are also monitored to make sure that we have adequate supply on hand. The department is looking at ways to ensure that we are prepared. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

June 4th, 2020

Page 1043

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess I'll just continue along with some of these questions with my colleague. Like I said, I have many constituents that are for the restrictions and some that are against. In my region there is a link between the Beaufort-Delta and Whitehorse, and they really want to know why and when, because we have no cases since April in both territories, that they can't travel back and forth once the road opens without having to isolate. Can the Minister explain why this can't happen? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can also advice that I am getting requests for considering to loosen up some of the borders, especially between Yukon and Alberta. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the issue for the record. There are a couple of things that people need to keep in mind because there are no active cases of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon. Until very recently, we were prepared in phase 2 to open the borders between Yukon and Nunavut. However, once Yukon decided to open its borders to unrestricted travel from BC, with all of their active cases, we were no longer able to consider that. The same holds for Alberta where they have still many active cases. It's just not safe, and it could have a serious impact on our elders, our people with compromised immune systems, smaller communities. We can't take the chance, Mr. Speaker. There is nothing restricting any Northwest Territories resident from going to either the Yukon or Alberta to visit themselves. The restriction upon return is that they must self-isolate for the 14-day period. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

I've also been getting questions about the role of Premier, Cabinet, and yourself agreeing with the advice and action from the Chief Public Health Officer in restricting the day-to-day activities of the residents and businesses of the Northwest Territories. Can you please outline the process that takes place in extending this public health order or instituting new orders?

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

In regular times, there is no role for the Premier, Minister, or Cabinet when the Chief Public Health Officer issues a public health order such as the whooping cough, TB, any sexually transmitted disease, and we find out about the same time as the general public. When we're in a public health emergency that I've declared on the recommendation of the Chief Public Health Officer, it is a different situation. The office of the Chief Public Health Officer now has regular briefs with the Premier, myself, and Cabinet on any new orders or amendments being developed, and then, we look at how to brief Cabinet, Regular Members, and then make the orders public. This is what's happens now and the lead up to the official announcement on easing up the restriction on phase two of Emerging Wisely. When we look at the extension of the public health emergency, the Chief Public Health Officer and I discuss, and if the same conditions that necessitated the declaration in the first place, if they still exist, as long as the conditions, meaning the public health risk, presented by COVID-19 to our smaller communities still exist, I am prepared to continue to keep signing off the extension of the public health emergency order.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

In the Emerging Wisely document, there will only be a return to normalcy and lifting of all restrictions once there is a vaccine developed and sufficient people have been vaccinated. What will this government do if there is no vaccine developed in the next 12 to 18 months or the development of an effective vaccine or if they can't find one?

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Right now, the office of the Chief Public Health Officer and the department and the government are focused on prepping for the second wave, which we're expecting to happen possibly this fall. With that and in the upcoming cold and flu season, it is probably premature for me to speculate as what we as a government may or may not do in the event of there being no vaccine until we get to the upcoming seven to eight months. Though there's nothing official going on, I would be not naive to say that there are not internal discussions going on within government departments and external organizations and governments on what should be done in the event the development of a vaccine is delayed or exclude research. We all hope that the development of an effective vaccine is successful within a reasonable timeframe. The federal Chief Public Health Officer has now stated that a vaccine may be two years from now. It's obvious if we can't develop an effective vaccine, that with the advice of the Chief Public Health Officer and noting how other jurisdictions are easing restrictions, we're going to have to come up with a plan for the Northwest Territories. I'm noting the fact that we remain at risk of community spread for as long as there are cases in the rest of Canada and also elsewhere.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. ITI's SEED policy describes market disruption as, "Circumstances when, in the opinion of the regional superintendent, the granting of a contribution will likely adversely and significantly impact the revenue earned by another business within the region." This definition plus the duties of a regional superintendent under Section 7.4(c), make it clear that the authority to determine market disruption falls to ITI's regional superintendents and that this authority is discretionary. Will the Minister instruct her senior management in ITI not to apply the market disruption clause for existing NWT businesses seeking SEED funding for the 2020-2021 fiscal year so NWT entrepreneurs can collectively evolve and expand their businesses in response to COVID-19? Thank you.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1044

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Industry, Tourism & Investment.