Dennis Marchiori, one of the NWT’s deputy chief public health officers appointed earlier this year, has taken over from Conrad Baetz as leader of the territory’s pandemic enforcement team.
During a briefing for reporters on Wednesday, Marchiori said Baetz – who had held the role since its creation – retired on September 18, after 35 “illustrious years” working for the public service.
The pandemic enforcement team was created early in the territory’s response to the onset of Covid-19, and operates services like the Protect NWT hotline while ensuring travel restrictions and isolation protocols are obeyed.
“I’m trying to convince him to come back, but I’m not holding my breath,” Marchiori joked of Baetz.
In early April, both Baetz and Marchiori – who was formerly the City of Yellowknife’s public safety director – began working for the NWT government’s pandemic enforcement team as deputy chief public health officers.
Marchiori said that team will in the coming months more closely integrate itself with the existing isolation centres in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, and Fort Smith, and with highway and airport checkpoints.
“[We want] to make sure that residents are well-served and know the information they have to provide, as well as what they have to do to comply with the chief public health officer’s orders,” he said.
“We want to make sure that as orders may change in the future, we are well-positioned to be able to handle that and provide assistance.”
According to the NWT Department of Finance, enforcement and protection staff will account for more than half of the roughly 150 positions being created in the territory’s new Covid-19 Secretariat.
To date, enforcement officials have issued 23 tickets for violations of pandemic health orders across the territory, along with 294 verbal and written warnings.
“The residents of the Northwest Territories have been very patient and have been very good in dealing with all of the staff that we’ve set up for the Covid Secretariat. The staff have been very good, they’re all helpful. They all want to do the job,” Marchiori said.
“That’s what I’ve noticed so far. We’re all trying to go toward the same goal, and we’re working at it as a team.”