A draft of the COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery plan, Emerging Stronger, will be shared with the public in the next week.
Speaking in the legislative assembly on May 27, the first day of the new session, Premier Caroline Cochrane said a draft of the plan would be tabled in the assembly within the next seven days. The current session lasts until June 4.
“It will be open for public feedback. This is going to have to be a living document,” she said. “I’d like to say the package will be ready now. It could’ve been done two months ago if I could take 100-per-cent control. That would not be appropriate, we’ve talked about partnerships.”
A revised draft of the plan was sent to the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight.; MLAs, Indigenous governments, the NWT Association of Communities and the Business Advisory Council were asked for feedback on the plan, Cochrane added.
The GNWT and MLAs have been discussing Emerging Stronger for more than one year, after an initial draft of the economic and social recovery plan was first presented to MLAs in a power point presentation in April of 2020, to mixed responses from MLAs and industry.
Several organizations, including the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and the Business Advisory Council, have been asking about a plan ever since.
The latest individual to do so was Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson, who pressed Cochrane for details on Emerging Stronger in session on May 27.
“It’s been over six months since the Business Advisory Council disbanded and said it didn’t have faith in the economic recovery strategy of this cabinet. We still don’t have economic recovery plan and it’s hard to have faith,” Johnson said.
He outlined several areas where the GNWT ignored recommendations for economic recovery, such a rebate program for residents doing staycations, infrastructure to support electric vehicles and reductions of fees and alcohol taxes for industry, among others.
“I view this Emerging Stronger plan as things we have not done yet. But it really comes down to money,” Johnson said. “My question to the premier is when we release the Emerging Stronger plan will there be funding associated with it?”
Offering few details, Cochrane responded that some things will have budgets and action plans attached to them and some items are priorities, such as universal child care.
Others wouldn’t immediately have attached budgets and would have to go through the budget approval processes.
“Not everything takes money. And some money won’t be ours. That doesn’t mean we’ll stop lobbying for support from the federal government.”