Shane Thompson is the new minister responsible for municipal and community affairs (Maca), replacing Paulie Chinna, Premier Caroline Cochrane announced on Tuesday.
Cochrane characterized the shift as a promotion of housing – “our government’s top priority” – since it leaves Chinna with responsibility for the NWT Housing Corporation as her sole major portfolio. She is also responsible for the territory’s work to end homelessness.
She holds the minor portfolios of responsibility for the Public Utilities Board and Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, which she takes from Thompson.
Thompson, by contrast, now holds three major portfolios in environment and natural resources, lands, and municipal and community affairs, each with large roles to play in tackling crises affecting the territory.
Thompson must oversee the contentious nature of NWT land management, the territory’s response to climate change, and now responsibilities under Maca’s umbrella like flood assistance and recovery.
He also becomes the minister responsible for youth, taking that portfolio from Chinna.
“As a cabinet we have been faced with a number of challenges, including a pandemic and more recently floods. Housing is our government’s top priority, and these changes will help support our efforts to improve the quality of housing in the Northwest Territories, while ensuring other government priorities continue to move ahead,” Cochrane said in a statement.
Cochrane, as premier, does not choose her cabinet – MLAs as a whole vote for her six cabinet colleagues – but does decide which portfolios they hold.
The last significant cabinet shuffle was announced in September 2020. Among other shifts, Chinna acquired the Public Utilities Board in that change and Thompson handed responsibility for the NWT Power Corporation to Diane Archie.