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NWT Sunday briefing: Letters, weather and more


Welcome to our Sunday briefing, the home of letters you write to Cabin Radio, a weather outlook, and some notes on the week ahead.

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✉︎ Letters

Fewer MLAs?

We reported on the suggestion that the NWT could get away with 16 MLAs instead of 19. The electoral boundaries commission suggests each MLA costs roughly $400,000 per year.

From Steve:

Reducing the number of MLAs would save a mega amount of money based on the salary figures in the article. I also think shedding some government fat on salaries is important moving forward from the pandemic.

Without increasing the number of constituents an MLA would serve then it’s win-win. And reducing the amount of travel time and costs is another long-term way the territory can save but yet still conduct regular business.

Clearly, reducing the number of MLAs does increase the number of constituents some of them would serve. But not by much, in the grand scheme. Bear in mind that any changes would need the approval of the current group of MLAs and so would, to a degree, require the turkeys to vote for Christmas.

Limiting power

We reported on the possibility of a “customer crisis fund” replacing the use of power limiters.

From Steve:

Creating a fund to help bail out clients that are in arrears is absolutely ridiculous. Why should clients in good standing be on the hook for those clients that aren’t? Power rates are already insane and paying for someone else isn’t something I support.

I support limiters and think they should remain as a tool to recover funds from clients who don’t pay. Or simply cut them off. There are so many other options before limiters are used but the laziness of people is the cause for getting a limiter out on your account.

You can’t fully cut off supply to someone in -30C in an Arctic coastal community, as it would be quite possible to kill them that way. Hence the limiters, which themselves are still described as “inhumane” by Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson.

The nuance of the suggested crisis fund is that ratepayers are already covering the debts of people in arrears, so if it’s already happening, you may as well establish a fund at the outset and use the fund to cover those arrears rather than do so reactively and charge ratepayers later. Our article was updated around six hours after publication to reflect Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson’s suggestion that the fund would mean at most a few bucks per year, per customer, on your bill.

A Stanton delivery

There was no Sunday briefing last week. This letter arrived in late November regarding our reporting of the crisis at Stanton Territorial Hospital’s obstetrics unit. I have removed some identifying information to protect the identities of the staff who spoke to us for that article.

In that article, one nurse – identified as Worker 1 – described a particular day at Stanton as one of “the most terrifying situations of my life.”

From a Yellowknife resident:

I think my delivery was one of the ones mentioned in this article. My son was born blue, not breathing, and needed resuscitation. That same day there was a 28-week baby born.

I knew that my delivery was scary, both due to my complications and the complications of another delivery down the hall. But I had no clue that it could be described as the scariest moment in someone’s career. I had no clue that they were so understaffed during that moment.

Not sure what the point of this email is, other than to get it off my chest without risking Worker 1’s identity. Hearing about my delivery from this perspective brought up a lot of trauma. I’m very sorry that this is happening to the nurses. However, I do have to say that even in their most stressful moments, the nurses are fantastic.

Send your letters to comment@cabinradio.ca. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.

☼ Weather outlook

Yellowknife: Like much of the territory, a cold start to the week – below -30C on Sunday – before warming up to -10C in midweek. Flurries throughout the week.

Inuvik: A warm Monday and Tuesday with highs around -6C. Snowy on Wednesday. Back down to the low -20s by the end of the week.

Norman Wells: A frigid Sunday with wind chill down to -50C will ease off slightly on Monday and Tuesday before warming to -9C on Wednesday. Back down toward -30C by Friday and Saturday.

Hay River: Sunday and Monday cold and clear, down to around -30C. The rest of the week will be warmer and cloudier with occasional flurries.

Fort Smith: Much the same as Hay River, though a little clearer at the times and consequently a little cooler. Thursday’s -14C is the high.

Fort Simpson: Bitterly cold on Sunday and Monday with highs of around -35C. Gradually warming to -12C by Thursday. Snow late in the week.

✐ Notes

The NWT legislature’s latest sitting finishes this week.

Budget deliberations at the City of Yellowknife begin on Monday night and ordinarily last for several nights.

The GNWT has changed its Covid-19 reporting so we only get weekly community-by-community updates instead of fresh data each weekday. The first of those weekly updates will appear on Wednesday.

Yellowknife has a scavenger hunt and holiday lights contest running this week.