Three quarters of employees of the GNWT’s Covid-19 secretariat will cease to be territorial government employees once the secretariat dissolves, while one quarter will be transferred to other departments, according to territorial health officials.
The comments were made during a sitting of the Legislative Assembly’s Committee of the Whole on March 9. The committee was reviewing the projected expenditures for the secretariat, which has been co-ordinating the territory’s pandemic response but will wind down operations as the territory prepares to lift its public health emergency after March 31.
Associate Deputy Minister Russell Neudorf told the committee that at the beginning of March, the secretariat had about 130 employees. Since the isolation requirements for travelers ended, about a dozen isolation centre employees saw their contracts expire. Three quarters of the 130 employees were hired on casual or term contracts.
“So those casual and term [employees], they would be employees new to the GNWT, and generally they don’t have another department to go back to,” said Neudorf.
The remaining quarter of secretariat employees are transfers from other departments, and should return to those original departments once the secretariat shuts down. Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green said most of these transfer employees will be working in the Department of Health and Social Services.
In response to questions from Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson, Neudorf said the secretariat’s employees will not be receiving any bonuses or severance pay once their time with the secretariat is up, although they may qualify for bonuses under other programs.
Green said her department expects there will be a more than $32 million decrease in its budget because of the end of the secretariat’s mandate. She said there may be a surplus as a result of the secretariat shutting down; However, if another outbreak occurs before the end of the year in a large population centre like Yellowknife,”that money could be gobbled up pretty quickly with having the vulnerable population housed in isolation,” she said.