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GNWT expects most staff back in workplace by mid-August


The territorial government says 60 percent of its staff have now returned to their places of work, and most of the remainder should do so by mid-August.

Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, whose department is responsible for human resources, gave that timeline in an emailed update to staff on Friday.

Non-essential government staff have been working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic struck in mid-March.

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The NWT government had been criticized by leaders of the territory’s private sector, who said recently the territory had “shown no initiative” in adapting its ways of doing business to the pandemic.

Wawzonek told staff her government was “taking a planned and prudent approach to returning employees to the worksite.”

She said three fifths of staff had returned through a process that prioritized “offices where there has been an interruption in service” and workplaces where it was easier to meet the chief public health officer’s requirements, which currently limit the capacity of each building.

The NWT’s driver and motor vehicle offices, as an example, are reopening on Tuesday.

“We are also working on plans for bringing remaining GNWT staff back to their worksites safely and in accordance with public health requirements,” Wawzonek wrote.

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The minister said each remaining management team would need to separately file an application with the chief public health officer, setting out arrangements being made “to limit exposure to Covid-19 for our staff and clients.”

Those applications must be approved before staff can return.

“We anticipate the return of most public servants to the worksite over the next four to six weeks,” said Wawzonek, though she added that “circumstances of individual employees must be taken into account” and some would be allowed to continue working from home “until their circumstances change.”

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