Since the lifting of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in April, the territorial government still has 11 employees residing outside of the NWT.

Matthew Mallon, GNWT senior communications officer with Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, didn’t deny that the recently departed cabinet communications adviser was living in Edmonton and had been since starting the job in 2019, up until stepping away in January.

Mallon said out-of-territory work is only considered for employees in rare and exceptional circumstances. He provided a couple of examples, such as an employee who must travel outside the NWT to provide emotional support to someone undergoing medical treatment, and someone who is able to work remotely due to the nature of their position. With technology and virtual communication, there is rarely a requirement for employees to commute to the NWT, which saves on costs, he added.

The territorial government is recruiting a new senior communications officer for cabinet on “a merit-based hiring process in adherence to GNWT policies, practices, and its commitments under collective agreements,” according to Mallon.

Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby became aware of the former cabinet communications adviser’s out-of-territory living arrangements during the fall of 2020. Prior to it being brought to her attention at that time, she said she was surprised she’d never heard of the individual’s name, even though Nokleby was previously a member of cabinet herself.

Although there was a competition to fill the position in late 2020 or early 2021, the premier stated that the incumbent in Edmonton would retain the job due to a lack of suitable applicants from the North, according to Nokleby.

“I knew this not to be true as the person who notified me about the situation had been trying to get a GNWT (communications) job to no avail — and (the individual) was suitable and living in the North,” she stated. “I also know several others in this field who I’m sure would have loved to have such a prestigious job. I’m unaware if there was ever a job posting for the position or not.”

Nokleby also mentioned that the position was converted to casual employment status at some point.

Mallon stated that the GNWT Remote Work Policy does not “provide a pathway for employees to leave the GNWT.”

“Rather it is one of many policies, programs, and initiatives that the GNWT has developed to recruit, retain, and develop members of the public service,” he said. “There is no ‘pathway’ to GNWT employees working outside the NWT and the Remote Work Policy is entirely unrelated to the choice of some individuals becoming independent contractors.”

When Yellowknifer asked further questions about the reclassification of the cabinet communications adviser position to casual status in the past, Amy Kennedy, the director of GNWT communications, replied, “Staffing decisions are made at an operational level and are not political decisions. However, the Government of the Northwest Territories does not disclose confidential information related to our employees’ status, including any specific details about their employment arrangements. We take our obligations to protect the privacy of our employees seriously. As such, we cannot comment on the personal or professional circumstances of any specific individual.”

Yellowknifer invited the Union of Northern Workers to comment, but a spokesperson said the union has nothing to say about this situation.

Kaicheng Xin

Kaicheng Xin is a Multimedia Journalist with NNSL Media. You can reach him at

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  1. Send the bill to Trudeau.

    Keep GNWT Money for NWT people.

    A “communication advisor” isn’t needed. That’s why there is none living here.