News outlets are reporting that some MLAs wanted to remove GNWT funding from the budget that is earmarked for the Covid-19 Coordinating Secretariat. Not cool!!! Keep the Secretariat!!!

CBC reports that Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty “made a motion to delete the funding for the secretariat. He pointed out that nobody in the territory has died from Covid-19, while many die each month as a result of suicide and addiction.”

Come on, let’s be realistic. You can’t compare deaths by Covid to deaths from suicide or addiction. Covid is a highly transmissible disease. People don’t get addicted and possibly end up in ICU a few weeks later if an addict coughs or sneezes on them. Eschia!

It’s true we haven’t had any deaths from Covid, and that’s the way we want to keep it. Right now, we only have one active case in the NWT, and that is due to the way the GNWT is tackling this issue.

We want to improve their work, not put it at risk by taking money from them. Look at our neighbors. Alberta registered 515 new cases and five deaths yesterday and the government is making all kinds of cuts in health.

It’s because of the regulations and policies GNWT put in place that we have not had many cases and no deaths…yet. It’s a success that our government should be applauded for, not have MLAs try to jeopardize its success. Yayyy GNWT.

The Secretariat’s responsibilities will include assisting with meeting Public Health Order requirements and maintaining and overseeing isolation centres in four communities and an Incident Command to manage isolation and confirmed cases of Covid-19.

They will also monitor and enforce compliance of self-isolation and Public Health Orders as well as maintain a presence at the major NWT airports, and at points of entry on our highways. Yayyyyy. My pet peeves. LOL.

We won’t burn out people

The thing is, the duties the Secretariat handles were already being done by people from other areas and departments. Now, staff will be centralized and under one boss.

Having the Secretariat means we are not burning out people who are doing two jobs at once and probably putting in crazy overtime. Also, the people who were doing the Secretariat’s work can now concentrate on their own jobs. Woohoo.

As Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said, “I think we peaked with 188 staff who were redeployed in the course of fighting the pandemic. When 188 staff are redeployed, those staff members are not working in housing. They are not working in addictions. They are not working in social services.”

And don’t forget all the complaints, from people like me lol, about not enough people at the border, airports, or doing enforcement. And of course, complaints that calls to Protect NWT are not being answered quickly enough.

Having the new Secretariat should improve those functions because the staff will be able to concentrate on their Covid duties, without having to do other things. Very cool.

MLA Kevin O’Reilly voted against the motion to remove the Secretariat’s money from the budget. Part of his reasoning was, “This is not another bureaucracy. This is continuing functions that have been going on since March, April, May. This is continuing the efforts of our government attempting to respond to a public health emergency.”

“This is unprecedented,” said O’Reilly. “We have a pandemic. We have a public health emergency on our hands.” Well said Kevin.

Happy for few cases

I, for one, am happy that not many MLAs voted to remove the Secretariat’s money from the GNWT’s budget. I’m perfectly happy to have few cases in the NWT. I’m also perfectly happy that the GNWT is not looking at reopening too quickly.

Look at how easy it was for the recent case in Yellowknife to transmit Covid to someone else. Luckily the infected person only went to a few places. Can you imagine if they were heavy drinkers and also went to a few bars and parties afterwards on both Friday and Saturday? Whoa, a lot of people could have been infected and quickly.

So yes, I totally support the Covid Secretariat and I want to thank the staff that were doing the job till now for keeping us safe.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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