Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to discuss pandemic anxiety. Mr. Speaker, I have been receiving numerous calls from constituents who are feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic, are tired of self-isolation, tired of the relaxation of public health orders that appear to benefit others but not them, those that are in extended care that are feeling isolated and alone, grandparents and children and grandchildren feeling the anxiety of not being able to visit family outside the NWT.
Mr. Speaker, anxiety, tension, apprehension, concern, fear, change and hope are all aspects of this pandemic that need to be recognized and dealt with in a manner that allows one to continue on with living. It is difficult when one finds that what was once predictable is not any more, what was once controllable by each of us is not any more; and, what is important and accessible to each of us is just out of reach now.
Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of this pandemic, fear set in and most of the world agreed action had to be taken as people were being hospitalized and dying. Our CPHO and this government took swift action by limiting travel in the NWT and providing public health orders that were there to protect us all, and we praised her for that.
Mr. Speaker, now Northerners watch the news and hear that southern Canada is planning to loosen restrictions and provide more freedoms. Sentiment is now changing on how our CPHO and government is handling this phase of the pandemic. Many of our residents, who have been vigilant throughout, want to see further relaxation of restrictions. The people in the northern part of the NWT now have access to the Yukon while people in the southern NWT, who have done their part and who are fully vaccinated, continue to feel the impact of the restrictions and want to know why not us?
Mr. Speaker, we are at a moment in time where we have to look at our legislation and ask if we are reaching a point where we may be subjecting this government to potential court challenges now that a vaccine is available, data is available, and the majority of people are conscious of safety protocols.
Relevant wording we have to look at in the Public Health Act states that a public health emergency means the occurrence of imminent threat or a public health hazard or disease that presents a significant risk to the public health. It further states that the public health officer may take reasonable measures as he or she considers necessary.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The questions this government has to ask are based on the fact that a majority of people in Canada and the NWT are vaccinated and restrictions in many parts of southern Canada are being lifted. These two questions are:
Do COVID-19 and known variants pose a significant risk? Do the orders continue to provide reasonable measures based on the current risk? Thank you Mr. Speaker.