Returning students will have their stays at NWT isolation centres fully covered by the territorial government.
The territory confirmed its policy on Friday. The clarification came as the GNWT prepares to stop paying for many isolation centre stays from the first week of January.
“Students and apprentices who live in the Northwest Territories and are required to travel beyond the border for education and training will have their costs covered for required stays in an isolation centre, if they cannot safely isolate elsewhere,” the territorial government said in a news release.
People travelling outside the NWT “to comply with legal requirements” will also have their isolation centre stays covered, the territory said. The NWT government gave the examples of people travelling in relation to child custody arrangements or to attend court-ordered addictions treatment.
From January 5, residents heading south for what the GNWT terms “discretionary or personal travel” – like vacations or visiting family – will no longer have isolation centre stays covered by the territorial government on their return.
Stays at isolation centres will still be covered after medical travel, compassionate travel, or in exceptional circumstances approved by the chief public health officer on a case-by-case basis.
“It is critical that we support people who must leave the territory for education and legal purposes. Paying isolation centre stays for these travellers will help to keep us all safe,” said the chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, in a statement.
The territorial government says it has so far accommodated 4,621 stays at isolation centres, costing $18.5 million.
The cost of operating the centres is the NWT’s single largest expense associated with public health orders issued in response to Covid-19 to date.
Cutting back on paying for many isolation centre stays is expected to save the GNWT $1 million per month.
The new policy only applies to stays that begin on or after January 5. If you arrive at an isolation centre on January 4, for example, your full stay will still be covered.