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Canada sending military to help NWT, McLeod says

The headquarters of Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife
The headquarters of Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Canadian Armed Forces personnel are stepping in to help the Northwest Territories combat its most serious Covid-19 outbreak to date, Michael McLeod said on Saturday.

The NWT’s current outbreak approached 200 active cases by Friday, most of them in the Sahtu. The territory’s health minister says resources are being overwhelmed because the outbreak is happening in multiple communities at once.

There is a severe shortage of nursing staff and laboratory technicians required to process tests. On Friday, community leaders in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake – together, the site of well over 100 active cases – expressed fear that rapid response teams and nurses were set to leave with no immediate replacement in sight.

McLeod, the MP for the Northwest Territories until this month’s dissolution of Parliament, said he had spoken with public safety minister Bill Blair and help was being dispatched.



“The Government of Canada is able to provide assistance via the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help with community response efforts,” McLeod wrote in a tweet retweeted by Blair. The exact nature of the support to be dispatched was not given.

This isn’t the first time this year that the military has promised to tackle a crisis in the Northwest Territories. In May, federal defence minister Harjit Sajjan pledged support from the Canadian Rangers to help flood-hit Fort Simpson.

Ultimately, only two Canadian Rangers – both of whom already lived in Fort Simpson, and both of whose homes were already flooded – were assigned to assist.

McLeod is the Liberal candidate in next month’s federal election as he seeks re-election and a third term as the NWT’s MP. He is currently opposed by NDP candidate Kelvin Kotchilea. The Green and Conservative parties have yet to announce NWT candidates.