The Northwest Territories government is extending the territory-wide public health emergency – enacted to address the Covid-19 pandemic – for the ninth time.
Diane Thom, the minister of health and social services, made the announcement in a Thursday news release. She noted the pandemic is not over and new cases of Covid-19 are still being reported elsewhere in Canada.
“This is a strong reminder that vigilance and public health measures remain necessary to ensure that risk to residents – and particularly remote communities – is well-managed; that our health system retains capacity; and the Government of the Northwest Territories is prepared to respond quickly to new cases or outbreaks,” the release states.
During a public health emergency, the territory’s chief public health officer has expanded powers.
Those include the ability to make orders restricting or prohibiting travel within the NWT, appoint deputy chief public health officers, and – eventually, if needed – establish a voluntary immunization program within the territory.
The current public health emergency was first declared on March 18. Under the territory’s Public Health Act, the health minister can renew it an unlimited number of times in 14-day increments.
The territory was also previously under a state of emergency – governed by separate legislation and different than a public health emergency.
According to the NWT government, powers granted to the minister of municipal and community affairs under that state of emergency had not been exercised during the pandemic. The territory said Covid-19 could be managed under the public health emergency alone.