The territorial government’s latest update to its pandemic social and economic recovery plan, known as Emerging Stronger, lacks substance and tangible goals, according to the NWT Chamber of Commerce.
The government’s progress report on the recovery plan, released June 2, “demonstrates a lack of real substance on how to revitalize the economy during a time of rising inflation, uncertainty, and declining mining revenues,” the territorial business lobby group stated on Wednesday. “The NWT Chamber of Commerce believes a real strategy with tangible goals and benchmarks is necessary to support businesses with rising costs related to inflation, the increasing labour shortage, and diversification of the economy to mitigate the loss of resource revenues by supporting new and upcoming business development and investment. Unfortunately, we believe the update does not offer any new approaches from the GNWT since Emerging Stronger was released in May 2021 or the original goals of this assembly’s mandate, nor a direct path to sustainable recovery nor a clear understanding of the new economic challenges facing Northerners.”
Instead, the NWT Chamber of Commerce is calling for a tangible approaches to reducing the cost of living, which would also lower the cost of doing business in the North and attract new entrepreneurs and investment. The chamber is also seeking assistance for businesses in attracting and retaining a Northern workforce to overcome the labour shortage; finding new ways to enhance the competitive business environment in the North; and for the GNWT to network with business organizations to assess these challenges.
The territorial government noted in its June 2 news release that it has consulted with business and industry groups as well as Indigenous governments over the past year, and Premier Caroline Cochrane stated that she is committed to continuing to work closely with stakeholders.
“I expect the conversation around social and economic recovery to be ongoing and to continue to evolve, with a further update to Emerging Stronger to be provided one year from now,” said Cochrane.
The Emerging Stronger update acknowledges the imminent closure of the Diavik diamond mine, which is scheduled for 2025.
“From an economic perspective, certain sectors such as retail trade, construction, and public administration have recovered, with a more promising outlook for tourism and other industries reliant on out-of-territory travel,” the update states. “While this trend is reason for optimism, there is urgency to our economic diversification and development actions as we anticipate the closure of the NWT diamond mines within the coming decade.”
The GNWT noted that it plans to create a dashboard of social and economic indicators that’s expected to be available to the public this summer.
Some of the government’s stated economic goals in Emerging Stronger include supporting broadband internet across the NWT, integrating workforce development within infrastructure projects, supporting the hardest-hit sectors, better support businesses, and expand and diversify the economy.
Members of the public can provide feedback through a GNWT webpage found at: https://www.eia.gov.nt.ca/en/content/providing-feedback-emerging-stronger