Open Letter re: COVID-19 Secretariat
In response to the joint Press Release issued earlier this week from the GNWT and Business Advisory Council (BAC) regarding the COVID-19 Secretariat, we would like to assure our membership that the NWT Chamber has not changed its position on the COVID-19 Secretariat. Where we agree that there needs to be efficiency and clarity in the GNWT’s response to this pandemic, we do not believe that additional funding is required to do so.
The NWT Chamber believes many of the costs budgeted for the COVID-19 Secretariat could be better spent. We have also taken the opportunities that have been granted to us to speak candidly to the Secretariat regarding this. The sole-sourcing of the isolation centers needs to be rectified, as does the blanket covering of costs for any NWT resident who chooses to leave the NWT for vacation/non-essential. This line item is more than half of the Secretariat budget. No other jurisdiction, including Nunavut, blindly pays for their residents to isolate, which costs $4-5,000/resident, over 14 days that equates to $5,600 - $7,000/resident. There also needs to be better enforcement of those abusing this system, which we all know is happening.