A plan to revive the Northwest Territories’ economy following the Covid-19 pandemic will be released in the next seven days, the territory’s premier told MLAs on Thursday.
Premier Caroline Cochrane said the plan – referred to on Thursday as Emerging Stronger, though officials have also called it Emerging Strongly and Emerge Stronger – had been through several drafts and was now receiving final feedback from community leaders and a panel of northern businesses.
A further draft will be made public “within these seven days,” Cochrane said, referring to the week-long sitting that began at the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
That draft will be a “living document” open to further public feedback, said the premier.
The document’s contents are not yet known. Cochrane alluded to universal childcare while discussing how Emerging Stronger’s measures will be funded, but did not go into detail.
She said not all of the proposals within Emerging Stronger will come with funding attached. Many will have to go through the usual appropriations process whereby MLAs decide whether or not money can be granted.
“Not everything takes money, and some money is not going to be ours,” said Cochrane, promising to further lobby the federal government for support.
“Their budget aligns quite well with what our needs are,” she said. “We’ve worked hard over the past year and a half to build strong relationships with the federal government … to get as much support as we can.”
Emerging Stronger is not the same as the territory’s social and health recovery plan. The document revealed next week is not likely to touch on how public health measures will be loosened over time as more residents of the territory – and southern Canada – become fully vaccinated.
That social recovery plan is now at least a month overdue. Restrictions on gathering sizes outdoors, for example, were originally expected to ease some time in May, but that was pushed back by the onset of this month’s Covid-19 cluster centred on Yellowknife’s NJ Macpherson School.
Last week, a spokesperson for the Covid-19 Secretariat said Dr Kandola’s revised reopening plan for the NWT from a health and social perspective would be available at the end of May, but there was “no specific date” planned.
After this report was published, the same spokesperson said that date had now changed and the plan would arrive “in June” instead.
“As the OCPHO moves toward updating our plan for emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will review all new and arising situations,” the spokesperson said by email, using the acronym for the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
“We are still recovering from the recent school outbreak in Yellowknife, which impacted many families and required a considerable public health response,” the email continued.
“We are seeing positive signs as the number of new cases in the rest of Canada begins to decline, as more people are vaccinated and with effective public health measures in place. The NWT continues to successfully roll out the vaccine, and it has now expanded the rollout to the 12-17-year-old age group.
“OCPHO is monitoring the situation in Canada and NWT closely and will release an updated Emerging Wisely plan in June. The updated plan will address relaxation of public health measures.”
Correction: May 29, 2021 – 7:55 MT. This article initially suggested MLAs had received some broad-brushstrokes information about the economic recovery plan in April this year. While MLAs have indeed received such a briefing, it took place in April 2020, not 2021.