Three committees of regular MLAs issued their recommendations to the N.W.T. government Tuesday after wrapping up a review of their response to COVID-19 — and mostly, they recommend to stay the course.
The Standing Committee on Social Development recommended large subsidies for child care providers, public housing tenants, residents on income assistance, and people earning minimum wage be made permanent or continue indefinitely.
The Standing Committee on Economic Development likewise recommended emergency loan and investment programs made available through the territory’s Business Development and Investment Corporation should be expanded.
All three committees also included recommendations aimed at improving the government’s response during a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.
The Standing Committee on Government Operations recommended the government clean up legislation “to ensure that the premier has administrative control during a state of emergency.” That state of emergency has been in place for 11 weeks and was extended Tuesday for a sixth time.
That committee also recommended the territory “address public concerns about gaps in enforcement prior to the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19.”
The territory’s “enforcement task force” has been subject to criticism for spotty records and an inconsistent approach to policing violations of public health orders.
The committee on social development, meanwhile, said programs have so far benefited the capital over more remote regions.
“Limited access to programs and services in small communities is a long-standing concern,” their report reads. “Throughout the government’s COVID[-19] response, committee members observed differences between the resources and planning made available to address the needs of residents in communities and those made available … in Yellowknife.”
It also suggested that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment “focus on positive interventions and outreach to improve relationships between families of ‘high risk’ or vulnerable students.”