R.J. Simpson is happy to still be the minister of Education, Culture and Employment.
The Hay River North MLA’s roles were unchanged when Premier Caroline Cochrane announced a relatively minor cabinet shuffle on July 23.
“I am pleased to be continuing on in my role as minister of Education, Culture and Employment,” Simpson said in a written statement for The Hub. “The last several months have been a remarkable experience for me to further understand this unique and exciting portfolio.”
The minister pointed to the need for reform in education and other areas covered by his portfolio.
“Our need for ongoing review of our education system to ensure equitable education delivery and outcomes, to develop a vision for income support and to enhance our employment standards across the North has never been more critical than now in the face of Covid and as we shine a light on the dark corners of institutional racism,” he said. “Staying in this portfolio means my focus remains the people of the Northwest Territories and how we as a government can better serve them during this pandemic and into the future of the territory.”
Simpson also retained his roles as minister responsible for the Public Utilities Board and government house leader.
The most significant change in the cabinet shuffle was that Sahtu MLA Paulie Chinna was once again named the minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, a role which had been assumed by Cochrane in April.
Other changes involved ministers being given new responsibilities for various areas, without changes to their main portfolios.
Cochrane will continue in her role as minister of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, while retaining leadership on the Covid-19 related emergency response.
“Responding to the global Covid-19 pandemic has created significant new demands on the GNWT that we expect will continue for at least another two years,” said Cochrane in a news release announcing the changes. “Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the GNWT continues to make the necessary changes to support a more integrated and efficient approach to better ensure that we can protect the health of NWT residents and communities. At the same time, we are also taking advantage of the opportunity to align some other functions within government and ministerial assignments to better pursue our mandate commitments.”