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So far, GNWT says, nobody suspended over vaccine policy


The NWT government said on Friday it was not aware of any staff sent on unpaid leave for failure to comply with the territory’s new Covid-19 vaccination policy for employees.

Since the start of the month, territorial government workers and contractors have had to either submit proof of full vaccination or, with some variations between departments, wear masks and submit to regular Covid-19 testing.

The detail of how that testing will work has yet to be publicized by the territorial government. For the time being, a stockpile of test kits sent by the federal government will be used.

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The GNWT previously said staff who do not comply – for example, by choosing not to submit proof of vaccination and then refusing to wear a mask or be tested – will be sent on indefinite unpaid leave.

Asked by Cabin Radio if any staff had so far been suspended in that fashion, a spokesperson for the NWT government’s Department of Finance said on Friday he was “not aware of any staff placed on leave without pay for refusing to comply with personal protective equipment and testing requirements of the Covid-19 vaccination policy.”

Earlier in the week, the GNWT said 81.2 percent of employees had submitted verified proof of vaccination by the initial end-of-November deadline.

However, at least one of the GNWT’s department-by-department figures was subsequently challenged.

According to the GNWT, 50 of the Legislative Assembly’s 70 staff had submitted proof of vaccination by November 30. Yet on Friday, the Speaker of the House said all legislature staff (and MLAs) had in fact filed their vaccination documents.

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“The Legislative Assembly has achieved 100-percent compliance, meaning all active employees and all members are fully vaccinated,” Speaker Frederick Blake Jr stated in a news release.

If so, that figure would make the legislature the top-ranking wing of the NWT government for compliance with the new policy.

“We continue to work to have this information verified through the GNWT’s human resources system for the statistics to correctly reflect our vaccination rate,” said Blake, attempting to explain the discrepancy with the earlier published figure, “but this has not been our main tracking mechanism to date.”

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