To the editor,

The release of Emerging Wisely 2021 on June 9 came closely on the heels of the premier’s release of Emerging Stronger. Both of these documents emerged later than hoped for. And both of the Emergings have disappointed and missed real opportunities.

On the pandemic front, we were given a gift. We were given early and abundant access to vaccines which stop the most serious effects of COVID-19 in their tracks. Yellowknifers recognized the gift and got vaccinated. As of June 16, 70 per cent of us have been at least partially vaccinated. We have now protected our most vulnerable. We should be celebrating that. While the recent Yellowknife outbreaks may have been setbacks, their limited spread and the lack of hospitalizations shows us that the vaccines work.

And yet we’re left with Emerging Wisely 2021 that sees restrictions and limitations on fully vaccinated people in place far longer than the territory to the left of us and even to the right of us. After the announcements from the Yukon and Nunavut on their reopening plans, it boggles the mind how Emerging Wisely 2021 ever made it through the Premier’s office.

Before vaccines, COVID-19 posed an existential threat to our health care system and our most vulnerable. Extraordinary measures were warranted, and they worked. We made it. Now, as the threat to our vulnerable populations has receded, extraordinary measures are no longer supportable. The new plan mentions personal responsibility and risk management, and yet there is none of that.

Most Yellowknifers have made a choice – to get vaccinated and avoid the worst of COVID. Some have chosen to roll the dice. Woe betide those who roll the dice. I wish them well. But for those of us who have chosen to follow the CPHO and the Premier’s advice, it’s time to return to normal. Keeping restrictions on the fully vaccinated is a missed opportunity to show that the CPHO is not just all stick and no carrot. When stacked up against our neighbours, Emerging Wisely 2021 will erode the trust and confidence that the government needs in order to deal with the next emergency.

The first Air Tindi float plane flight to take off from Long Lake this year lifts off the water on the morning of June 8. Air Tindi is one of the businesses that has stepped up and shown leadership in a vacuum created by the premier’s office, writes Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce president Tim Syer. NNSL file photo

Unfortunately, Emerging Stronger is a return to business as usual for our political leadership. Rebranded mandates, vague commitments to build big things and keep northerners and northern dollars up north and no real plan. So we pick up right where we left off. What Emerging Strongly really represents is a missed opportunity. With money apparently growing on trees in Ottawa, now is the time for the Premier to seize the moment and do something big. Be a nation builder – build that highway up the Mackenzie Valley, expand Taltson, turn the Slave Geological Province into Canada’s post-oil economic engine.

Despite the disappointments wrought by the two Emergings, Yellowknife businesses continue to adapt and lead. Air Tindi and Det’on Cho Management LP deserve special mention for taking the lead with their vaccination incentive programs. The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has begun to roll out its members’ vaccination incentive program, Crush Covid Yellowknife. If only we saw such leadership and problem-solving initiative from the Premier’s office.

Tim Syer

President

Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce

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  1. I run the beauty salon in Avens Manor and I still can not reopen. The residents can go out anywhere in town , to family houses, restaurant etc but my outside customers can not come into my shop. One old guy wheels himself uptown and hangs around all day not social distancing, I know what I have do to protect my customers- wear masks, sanitize after each customer etc. 15 months is a long time to be closed . Thank god for Federal Government support cause NWT Government gave me none and still keep saying NO!!!!!!

  2. Once again Mr. Dyer, I think this speaks well from the business community. It is really all about a lack of leadership. Two more years is all I can say because I don’t hold out hope the government will get it.

  3. Premier of GNWT,
    Great message Tim! Its time for our political leaders to be bold! Open up to vaccinated people from across Canada and around the world! Decide on a major project or economic engine and decide to make it happen. People want leadership and direction that makes sense and we can follow! The time to act is now!
    Ed Romanowski, President & COO, Nunastar Properties & the Explorer Hotel