The legislative assembly will recess next week as the territorial government and public service brace for COVID-19.
The move aims to free-up cabinet and government resources, redirecting them to respond and prepare to the spread of the virus, a Friday news release stated. In the meantime, there will be one sitting on Monday, to approve ongoing government spending for the next three months. The recess starts on Tuesday.
“In suspending the remainder of the winter sitting we are freeing up these resources to focus on preparing for and responding to the potential spread of COVID-19 to the Northwest Territories,” assembly speaker Frederick Blake Jr. said in the news release.
Cabinet will continue to meet as the situation develops, the news release said, while regular MLAs will return to their respective constituencies and offer support to residents.
The recess order follows NWT chief public health officer Kami Kandola’s Wednesday confirmation that infrastructure minister Katrina Nokleby was self-monitoring for COVID-19.
Before the recess was ordered, MLAs were reviewing the territorial budget, with a number of departments defending their plans in lengthy discussions. Those deliberations — including for the departments of health and social services; infrastructure; industry, tourism and investment — will be delayed until MLAs return in the respirng.
Youth parliament, scheduled for May 4 to 8, has also been cancelled. While the building remains open to the public, tours have been similarly cancelled.