Coronavirus
Health

NWT abandons plan to create Covid-19 health and social council


The territorial government has scrapped a planned council of health and social services experts that would have helped to guide its pandemic response.

In late April, the NWT government said it would create three councils to advise ministers: one for businesses, one for Indigenous interests, and one for the health and social sector.

The business advisory council eventually met for the first time in June. What became of the Indigenous advisory council is not clear.

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On Friday, Great Slave MLA and former minister Katrina Nokleby revealed the health and social sector’s council had been abandoned.

Writing on Facebook and referring to health minister Julie Green, Nokleby wrote: “I just received word from Minister Green there will be no Social Recovery Council that was promised as early as April to regular MLAs.”

The territorial government on Friday evening confirmed the council – referred to as a social recovery council by Nokleby, though the territory had given it a slightly different name – would not be going ahead.

In an emailed statement, Green said her government “remains committed to engaging with leaders in the voluntary and community sector to identify issues that have emerged due to Covid-19 that must be addressed.”

The minister said she was “interested in looking at ways we can meaningfully engage with this sector using a format like workshops or focus groups, rather than a formal council.”

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Green said she would work on “the best approach” and expected to make a further announcement before Christmas.

Green had complained about business council

Green replaced Nokleby in cabinet after Nokleby was ousted by colleagues in August, Green included, over concerns related to her conduct.

“Guess only our economic recovery was important enough for her to push for in the House,” Nokleby wrote on Friday.

That appeared to be a reference to Green’s interrogation of Nokleby regarding the business advisory council in May.

In the legislature, Green questioned Nokleby about perceived delays to the formation of that council. At the time, Nokleby was the industry minister responsible for that council.

Green – then a regular MLA – said: “The minister of industry, tourism, and investment announced a business advisory council would bring the business sector together to chart a course through this unprecedented shutdown. More than two months later, we are still waiting for the minister to launch the council.”

She went on to suggest the council was a “secret committee,” urging that Nokleby “shore up the credibility of this initiative by making as much of it public as you possibly can as soon as you can.”

The business advisory council’s composition and terms of reference were later made public.

A presentation made by Premier Caroline Cochrane and other ministers to regular MLAs on April 29, which contained references to the three advisory councils, appears to have been moved from its previous location on the Legislative Assembly’s website.

Where once the full presentation existed, on Friday evening only a one-page agenda and summary were immediately accessible.

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