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Premier announces cabinet shuffle, development of MMIWG action plan


NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane announced a shuffle in cabinet roles on Thursday afternoon.

Among the changes, Paulie Chinna returns as minister of municipal and community affairs (Maca), Caroline Wawzonek adds the status of women portfolio, and responsibility for procurement moves from the Department of Infrastructure to the Department of Finance.

The territory also announced for the first time that it intends to develop its own action plan on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

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Wawzonek takes over responsibility for procurement two months after infrastructure minister Katrina Nokleby pledged to change procurement practices so more jobs on projects would go to northerners.

Wawzonek’s other new role, as Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, was previously held by Diane Thom.

In that role, Wawzonek will be responsible for developing and implementing the new action plan. 

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The federal government said in May that its action plan was being delayed because of the pandemic. Until now, the NWT government had not committed to creating its own action plan, a decision that had been criticized by some MLAs.

Chinna returns to Maca three months after Premier Cochrane announced she would be taking over as minister of the department, saying at the time she needed a “more hands-on role” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under a state of emergency – which the territory declared for the first time on March 24 in response to the pandemic – the minister of Maca has expanded powers to control agencies and deploy resources. Those powers were never used, however, and the government lifted the state of emergency on July 7.

Thom, who remains the health minister, has been named the Minister Responsible for Seniors. That portfolio was held by Shane Thompson, who is taking over from Nokleby as Minister Responsible for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission. 

The new appointments take effect at 5pm on Thursday. 

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