Advocacy & News
To follow all of our COVID-19 related Advocacy - link
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.
COVID -19 Secretariat Letter Template
Are you against the COVID-19 Secretariat? Below is a letter template that can be filled out and sent to your MLA as well as cc'ing the 19th Legislative Assembly. Let all MLA's know that increasing government jobs is not how you stimulate the economy nor does it provide any real job creation outside of Yellowknife
Call to Action - COVID-19 Secretariat
To date, the Premier has not responded to our original letter dated September 08th though we were advised we would receive a response by September 24th
The communications on the COVID-19 Secretariat has been difficult to follow and figure out what is facts and what is not, the number of jobs; the percentage of jobs in Yellowknife vs communities; the cost; etc. All have changed almost daily. Bottom line is the GNWT has chosen to use our emergency state to spend this money for the COVID-19 Secretariat before it has been approved which is not right and goes against their pledge for better transparency. Wordsmithing to convince the NWT residents that these are not new jobs and the true monetary ask is irresponsible during this time.
Our call to action is supported by NWT Tourism; NWT Manufacturers Association; and NWT & NU Chamber of Mines:
When the COVID-19 Secretariat was announced, it was reported that “$36.1m is for wages only for 150 positions, of which 124 will be located in Yellowknife, and only 24 spread through Fort Smith; Hay River; Fort Simpson; Norman Wells, and Inuvik. 125 of those positions will include "members of the current compliance and enforcement task force, staff protecting the border at airports and highways, and isolation center employees and staff Protect NWT and its 8-1-1 hotline". link
Based on their release, "19,043 self-isolation plans have been submitted since March 21 – of which 784 are currently pending approval, and since April 15, the 8-1-1 hotline has received a total of 2,281 calls from 29 communities, while 458 emails related to COVID-19 have been sent. Enforcement officials have issued 265 written and verbal warnings and 19 summary offense tickets". link
To put this in perspective, if we repeat the same numbers over the following next five months, each employee will be tasked with 18 calls/each over the full five months and approximately an application a day/employee for the entire five months. Currently, anywhere from 10-20% of GNWT employees can not return to the office. This equates to 529 - 1,057 employees working from home.
On September 24, Premier Cochrane was quoted as saying: "Like the programs and services, only 10 of the 150 positions required are new and, prior to the establishment of the Secretariat, we had 163 positions from across government working to deliver these services". In the GNWT eyes, these may not be "new" hires, but the backfilled positions will be. During this time of uncertainty, we do not need politicians playing word games to justify an end. The GNWT has indicated on multiple occasions in the media as well as in the Standing Committee of Accountability and Oversight, that the business community has asked for this Secretariat. We have never asked for additional staff; or the creation of a new department. We have repeatedly asked for clarification; consistency; collaboration; and a response within a reasonable timeframe as 2-3 weeks to answer an email is not reasonable.
To protect the NWT, we do not need more people to answer phone calls and emails. We need our HealthCare system bolstered as every other judication has chosen to do with their federal funding. We could save the territory $36m+ if we stopped paying for self-isolation centers for those residents who voluntarily left the territory for personal non-essential travel. We could be issuing more fines to those not complying to drive home the seriousness of our current situation. We could stimulate our economy if the GNWT invested even a fraction of this money into supporting our drowning sectors such as hospitality, tourism, and mining. There are so many more essential mandate items that this money can be spent on with a larger return than creating unnecessary middle management positions. As previously stated, it doesn't take money to return a phone call or respond to an email.
The NWT Chamber is not naïve to think that it will be government employees answering calls and responding to emails that will flatten our curve. It will be our dedicated healthcare workers; and frontline staff that will be instrumental in our ability to flatten the curve.
Our call to action is if your MLA has not already announced a constituency meeting before the sitting in October, ask them why. Question your MLA on how they plan to vote on the approval of this funding that has already been spent and why they feel the permanent creation of these new jobs whether its at the COVID Secretariat or back filling, instead of transfer-in assignments and/or contracted term positions.
COVID-19 Secretariat Open Letter
The NWT Chamber of Commerce issued an open letter to all MLA's this morning in regards to the COVID-19 Secretariat and what $62.6m would do for the NWT economy if that money was spent on even one of the mandate items. The letter was signed and support by:
- Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce
- Thebacha Chamber of Commerce
- Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce
- Norman Wells & District Chamber of Commerce
- NWT Tourism
- NWT & NU Chamber of Mines
- NATA (Northern Air Transport Association)
Together we represent over 3,500 businesses across the NWT of all sizes and sectors.
Letter regarding the COVID-19 Secretariat
The NWT Chamber of Commerce has sent the below letter to Premier Cochrane, with supporting signatures from the Yellowknife Chambers of Commerce, Thebacha Chamber of Commerce and Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce.
The NWT Chamber has issued this letter after receiving several concerns from our membership regarding the money being spent on a new level of bureaucracy when several businesses in the NWT are struggling to stay open and being forced to wade through unnecessary red tape and delays due to inconsistent application of rules and lack of response from the GNWT
Joint Business Association Statement on the importance of a Coherent Privacy Framework
Today (09/11/20) along with 25+ business associations, joined the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to highlight the importance of a coherent national approach to privacy rules for Canadian businesses. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Minister Navdeep S Bains to deliver on this important agenda - full letter
Protecting Canada's Arctic Interests - a Losing Battle
The NWT Chamber is very excited to announce that we have submitted a policy resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's submitting committee. On September 08, 2020, we were notified that our policy on Protecting Canada's Arctic Interests - a losing battle was approved to be debate and hopefully approved at the Canadian Chamber's AGM in October. This policy was co-sponsored by Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and the Surrey Board of Trade - full policy
Location of Day Shelter
In support of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and Black Knight Pub; Overlander Sports & 974200 NWT, the NWT Chamber issued the City of Yellowknife a letter in regards to the location of the proposed Day Shelter full letter
Ongoing recovery of our restaurants and food service industry across Canada
The NWT Chamber, along with all the other provincial and territorial chambers, joined the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlining the struggles that our hospitality industry is facing and the importance they deliver to our economy. - full letter
For more information on the movement please visit - Our Restaurants webpage
Balancing Health and Economics
Together with NWT Tourism; Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce; NWT & NU Chamber of Mines and NWT & NU Construction Association, the NWT Chamber has issued an open letter indicating that NWT businesses want a more balanced approach to protecting public health and supporting economic recovery - full letter
July 09, 2020 - Premier Cochrane's response - full letter
Letter to Minister Miller and Minister Morneau requesting a roll out of Indigenous Business Supports
The NWT Chamber of Commerce with support from the NWT Indigenous Leaders Economic Coalition and Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce; has issued a letter requesting our official ask to have the program(s) for Indigenous Business Support announced April 18th to be rolled out as soon as possible.
Full Letter - link
Joint Letter to Washington Companies LLP
Together with the NWT & NU Chamber of Mines and the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, the NWT Chamber sent a joint letter to Washington Companies LLP in regards to Dominion Diamonds Mines ULC - full letter
Joint Senate SubmissionTogether we are stronger through this difficult COVID-19 situation and we know this is a very difficult time for you. Together the NWT Chamber of Commerce and NWT Tourism have been working collaboratively to advocate for the NWT business community. Both of our organizations are working together on your behalf pushing for programs and services that will enable you to survive and revive as we come through this unprecedented health and economic storm.Attached, is an issues document (click here) that we have been using together to identify gaps in federal programs and to provide poignant examples from the NWT, where we have examples. We are using this document to speak and to write to Parliamentarians, CanNor, GNWT, and most recently to Senator Anderson’s office. Senator Anderson approached both of us to provide input to help the three northern senators understand NWT challenges and issues so they can also be advocates in parliament for northern businesses so that they could be presented at the Committee of Finance and on Social Affairs.If after looking at this issues brief, you have other examples of where federal programs are not working for your business, please get in touch with one of us, and share your examples. We are committed to continuing to work on your behalf and we are proud to have partners together to work on your behalf too
Letter to Premier Cochrane requesting immediate moratorium on commercial evictionsAn urgent letter from Chambers ofCommerce to Canada’s Premiers Re: May 1 commercial rent paymentsToday the NWT Chamber of Commerce issued an urgent letter to Premier Cochrane requesting a moratorium on commercial eviction due to the issue and gaps in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent AssistanceOur Full Release - linkFollow Up Letter issued May/07/2020 - link
Press Release: NWT Chambers response to the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions
Canadian Chamber of Commerce/Stas Canada national survey on the conditions and impacts on businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Stats Canada released its national survey on the conditions and impacts on businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results were able to be drilled down by province and territories as well as by industry; employee size; private vs public and ownership style. The NWT Chamber of Commerce is appreciative of all who have responded and looks forward to utilizing this valuable data to better serve our membership and the businesses of the NWT recover from this unprecedented time.
Full Release - link
Letter of Support for the Aviation Sector
The NWT Chamber of Commerce with support from the Northern Air Transport Association, Thebacha Chamber of commerce and Norman Wells & District Chamber of Commerce; has issued a letter to Minister Vandal in regard to the need for a financial relief package specifically for the NWT Aviation sector.
Full Letter - link
Request for Northern Relief Package
The NWT Chamber of Commerce with support from the Thebacha Chamber of Commerce; Hay River Chamber of Commerce; Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce and Norman Wells Chamber of Commerce has issued a letter to Minister Mélanie Joly requesting a Norther Relief package for all sectors of the NWT.
Full Letter - link