Yellowknife Centre Newsletter
Emerging Wisely 2021: Step by Step Together
The Chief Public Health Officer released her plan to reopen the NWT on June 9. Residents asked for specific targets and Dr. Kami Kandola provided them. The targets are based on territory-wide and national vaccination rates and on the daily national count of new COVID infections.

When the plan was released, the CPHO announced an increase in the size of outdoor gatherings to 200 people. Dr. Kandola is working with organizations for exemptions on bigger gatherings, such as Folk on the Rocks. Any activity that is listed as higher risk in Emerging Wisely 2021 will require an exposure control plan and a request to vary conditions must be submitted to the OCPHO (via protectnwt@gov.nt.ca). Plans will address the specific risk factors of the activities. 
 
The next step is opening up indoor gathering limits based on 66-75 per cent full vaccination or 75 per cent partial vaccination. As of June 15, NWT is at 70 percent coverage for partial vaccination and 63 per cent for fully vaccinated. So we’re close, and Dr. Kandola suggests we will be there in early July.
There’s been a lot of interest in the step that decreases self-isolation requirements for NWT residents who are fully vaccinated. This is the step that will allow us to resume leisure travel.

The threshold is fewer than 1,000 new infections a day on a national basis for a week. On June 14 and 15 there were fewer than 1,000 cases each day. The other threshold is a 66-75 per cent partial vaccination rate across the country. Canada is at 66 per cent partial vaccination as of June 15. We are getting very close….
The remaining steps involve opening the NWT to leisure travellers in the autumn (who will be required to file self-isolation plans) and to lift all restrictions when the NWT reaches a full vaccination rate of 66-75 per cent for residents age 12+, plus national new infection rates below 1,000 a day, plus a Canada-wide full vaccination rate of 66 to 75 per cent.

What’s clear from the outbreak Yellowknife had and that Yukon is experiencing right now is that the unvaccinated population, particularly children, can trigger a surge in cases. We will have to be ready to respond with testing and contact tracing even without the state of public health emergency in place. Learning to live with COVID-19 is our new normal.
Earlier this month, myself, other ministers and MLAs, students and neighbors signed a beam that will be in the centre of the school at the new JH Sissons site.

The school rebuild is progressing and I’ve been told the building will be enclosed by the end of the summer and ready to use by September 2022.
GNWT Budgets--Have Your Say 
The Minister of Finance is hosting consultations to gather input into the territorial government’s next capital and operating budgets. 
 
The Budget Dialogues are an opportunity to learn more about how GNWT budgets work and to share views on spending priorities.
 
You can participate in online sessions with Minister of Finance Caroline Wawzonek on July 6 from 7pm to 9pm or July 9 from 11am to 1pm. Recordings of all sessions will also be posted online and a “What We Heard” summary will be published.
 
The Minister of Finance will also hold separate sessions with Indigenous governments and organizations, community governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.
 
A brief online survey will be available for residents to provide more detailed input on the GNWT budget and spending priorities.
 
To participate in the online sessions or be invited to take part in the survey, contact Senior Communications Officer Todd Sasaki at todd_sasaki@gov.nt.ca or 867 767-9168 ext. 15015.
Yellowknifers stood together on June 10 to support the Muslim community of Yellowknife in their grief and anger. The death of the three generations of the Afzaal Family must be a turning point in rooting out Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We must all be anti-racists.
Seniors face unprecedented social isolation
because of pandemic
I have had a preview of a federal government-commissioned report being released this autumn about social isolation among seniors. Social isolation in this context is feeling lonely because of a lack of “mutually supportive relationships” or in plain language, contact with family and friends. The pandemic has taken this existing problem and made it worse by tripling the rate of self-reported loneliness.

The takeaway messages resonate for me: we need to tailor programs for diverse needs and populations, address the digital divide that results from unfamiliarity with online communication; and create intergenerational programs that produce social benefits and reduce agism.

I was also interested in the promising practices in the report which include befriending programs (like the “friendly calls to seniors” program that was offered by NWT Status of Women); providing telephone outreach and information lines for program questions; providing practical assistance programs (eg. change a light bulb); creating technology training and equipment donation programs to address the digital divide; and developing seniors’ centres without walls.

Officials at the federal, provincial and territorial government levels will create a workplan to move from words to action. I am interested in offering a robust solution to lonely seniors to improve their quality of life.. ion and nomination forms

The current term of the NWT Commissioner has been extended by a year.

This is good news because Margaret Thom is such a capable representative for the territory, grounded in her language and culture.