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The GNWT and the Business Advisory Council (BAC) agree to collaborate on steering the recovery of the NWT economy during the Covid pandemic, they said in a joint news release Monday.

The BAC was established to offer guidance to the GNWT on its economic response to the pandemic. It held its first meeting in June and is made up of 16 organizations representing the interests of NWT businesses.

The government’s response to the pandemic has so far limited the number of cases and put the NWT in a position where it can “look forward while others are tightening up in part because of these measures,” the release said.

The Business Advisory Council and GNWT pledge to work together on the economic recovery of the territory amid the pandemic. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

While business activity has mostly resumed and the NWT is forecast to return to almost 90 per cent of pre-pandemic employment levels by the end of the year, some industries face challenges, including tourism.

To address those challenges, the BAC and the Covid-19 Coordinating Secretariat are working together on coordinated steps to face the next peak of the pandemic, and lay out a path for recovery during the fall peak of Covid in Canada.

Through regular meetings and collaboration, both organizations are working on solutions to support businesses and struggling sectors of the economy.

Jenni Bruce, co-chair of the BAC along with Paul Gruner, said the collaboration would focus on some business sectors struggling to bounce back from the restrictions.

“Specifically the hospitality/tourism sector as so much of what they do depends on capacity and people from outside of the NWT,” Bruce said. “These restrictions are set up to keep people safe but we are hoping to find solutions to allow these business to survive this.

“We are also looking at ways to cut down the costs and challenges associated with isolation and isolation centres (and) working with them to come up with some consistency/standards in the guidelines for businesses to operate.”

The BAC co-chairs are generally confident the NWT won’t have to go back to the restrictions of phase one because of the hard work of the government, business community and NWT residents over the last six months.

“(The BAC) will continue to work with the Covid Secretariat and will be vigilant in monitoring its efforts to achieve the objectives of greater transparency, efficiency and cost reductions,” they said.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the GNWT will work with the BAC to target necessary actions and investments.

“By applying the invaluable experience and insight of the NWT’s private sector to our decision making, I’m confident that we can move forward and emerge from this crisis to revitalize, strengthen and grow our economy into the future,” Wawzonek said.

“The establishment of the Covid Secretariat has increased the ability for meaningful engagement with businesses,” said Premier Caroline Cochrane. “A coordinated response to the pandemic includes economic stability and we recognize the importance of both maintaining the financial viability of our businesses, and protecting the health of residents.”

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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