Coronavirus

Most Covid-19 Secretariat staff will work in enforcement, protection


Enforcement and protection staff will account for more than half of the 150 positions to be created in the NWT’s new Covid-19 Coordinating Secretariat.

In an email to Cabin Radio, Todd Sasaki – a representative from the Department of Finance – said 83 secretariat positions fall under that category, including members of the current compliance and enforcement task force, staff protecting the border at airports and highways, and isolation centre employees.

An additional 42 secretariat positions will staff Protect NWT and its 8-1-1 hotline. The remaining 29 positions account for communications, policy, logistics, and management roles. 

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Of the 150 or so positions, the territory has said 125 will be full-time, 12 will be part-time, and 12 will be relief. Eighty-four percent will be based in Yellowknife while the rest will be spread across Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, and Norman Wells. 

Sasaki said all 150 term positions are new but some have already been established and filled.

Quoting the Department of Finance, NNSL this week reported the secretariat’s $87-million budget up to 2023 includes $36.1 million for wages and $35.8 million to keep four isolation centres in larger communities operational.

According to the territorial government, 19,043 self-isolation plans have been submitted since March 21 – of which 784 are currently pending approval.

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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 offence tickets. 

The secretariat will be part of the Department of Health and Social Services and led by deputy minister Russell Neudorf, who will report directly to the premier.

When the secretariat was announced earlier this month, the government said 163 full-time and part-time employees were currently working on the territory’s Covid-19 response. Premier Caroline Cochrane said the secretariat will create a single agency within the government to respond to the pandemic across multiple departments, arguing this will provide greater clarity, accountability, and consistency. 

MLAs are expected to implement a supplemental funding bill for the secretariat during next month’s session of the Legislative Assembly. 

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