Health minister apologizes for obstetrics closure

NWT Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green publicly apologized on Dec. 1 for the closure of Stanton Territorial’s obstetrics unit.

“Even with support and best efforts from NTHSSA (Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority), I know that these are not the circumstances that families wanted, and I am sorry we are not able to live up to their expectations,” she said.

In a press conference later that day, NTHSSA CEO Kim Riles said Stanton was operating with a vacancy of 22 per cent for nursing positions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers questions after announcing a $10-a-day childcare deal with the Northwest Territories, as Premier Caroline Cochrane and NWT MP Michael McLeod look on. Screenshot courtesy of CPAC

GNWT, feds reach daycare deal

The Government of the Northwest Territories signed an agreement with the federal government to introduce $10-a-day daycare for children six-and-under within five years.

The agreement, which was announced on Dec. 15, will also create 300 new childcare spaces by 2026.

“Before there was a long waiting list,” said Premier Caroline Cochrane. “It was a losing proposition, but this changes that.”

Territorial employees lag on proof of vaccination

As the deadline for GNWT employees to present proof of vaccination passed on Nov. 30, nearly one in five territorial employees had still not complied.

These defiant employees were required to wear personal protective equipment and get tested regularly for the virus. Any government worker who refused those requirements would be forced to go on unpaid leave.

The only exception was staff of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, who had their deadline extended to Dec. 13.

Source of LA affidavit revealed

New details emerged about an affidavit from Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson criticizing the inquiry into Jacobson’s colleague, Steve Norn.

A letter written by Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr. revealed that the lawyer for the inquiry, Maurice Laprairie, had sent the affidavit to assembly law clerk Sheila MacPherson on Aug. 24.

It was previously not publicly known how the clerk’s office and Board of Management had obtained the affidavit.

In the legal document, Jacobson criticized the Norn inquiry as “a tool in the clerk’s arsenal to silence what he perceives as dissent in ‘his’ government.”

Omicron variant postpones Vatican meeting

A planned meeting between Pope Francis and representatives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities was postponed due to the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

A Dec. 7 statement from the delegation announced that the meeting had been delayed until 2022 “after careful assessment of the uncertainty and potential health risks surrounding international travel amid the recent spread of the Omicron variant.”

The delegation will meet with the Pope to seek an apology for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.

New Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine, left, and former premier Stephen Kakfwi at Antoine’s swearing-in ceremony. Photo courtesy of Dene Nation/Zoom

New Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine, left, and former premier Stephen Kakfwi at Antoine’s swearing-in ceremony. Photo courtesy of Dene Nation/Zoom

Gerald Antoine becomes leader of Dene Nation

Gerald Antoine was sworn in as Dene national chief on Dec. 9.

“I call on the Elders and encourage their continued guidance as it is importantly essential in our way of life,” he said during the swearing-in ceremony.

Antoine, who was born in Fort Simpson, previously served as chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation.

Compensation for healthcare workers

GNWT Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green announced additional compensation for the territory’s front-line healthcare workers in the form of a retroactive pay increase to help cover the cost of childcare.

Green said the CEO of the NTHSSA had also recommended other forms of compensation for employees.

The Union of Northern Workers, which represents GNWT employees at Stanton Territorial Hospital, said at the time that low morale and overworked staff were responsible for the staffing shortage that led to the closure of

Stanton’s obstetrics unit in November.

Dettah ice road opens

The ice road linking Dettah and Yellowknife opened to traffic on Christmas Eve.

The territory’s Department of Infrastructure announced the opening of the bridge in a tweet on the morning of Dec. 24.

The 6.5-km highway that traverses Yellowknife Bay is expected to stay open until sometime in mid-April.

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