Caroline Cochrane: Emerging Stronger: COVID-19 Social and Economic Recovery Plan

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — May 31, 2021

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Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us. Like all jurisdictions, our initial response was focused on public health measures.

To date, we have been successful in protecting the health and safety of our residents thanks to the actions we took early, and the commitment from residents to follow the public health orders and recommendations in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

As we continue our efforts to be one of the first jurisdictions in the country to successfully implement a vaccination program, we have also been focused on our social and economic recovery.

Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time later today, I will be pleased to table Emerging Stronger, a social and economic recovery plan for the Northwest Territories.

The pandemic has exposed economic and social gaps in our society, and has increased the urgency to address these issues. Emerging Stronger complements our mandate by highlighting areas of responsiveness and further growth.

Emerging Stronger identifies the lessons learned from the urgency and intensity of the pandemic, and examines these in the context of our government’s existing mandate, to present a set of actions the GNWT will take to support long-term social and economic recovery.

While our government’s mandate itself provides a foundational plan for strengthening the economic and social conditions in the NWT that precedes the pandemic, Emerging Stronger builds on our existing commitments to strengthen the GNWT’s vision for social and economic development post-pandemic.

Emerging Stronger includes, for example, commitments to review NWT Housing Corporation policies, accelerate work on the Alcohol Strategy, and increase support for addictions programs, as well as efforts to diversify the economy through remediation activities.

Mr. Speaker, our success in social and economic recovery from the pandemic depends on partnerships. Emerging Stronger was shared with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations for comment earlier this month, and we have discussed it with community governments and the Business Advisory Council.

I would also like to thank the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight for their comments on the plan. We have incorporated Committee’s input, and we will be welcoming comments and feedback from the public on the social and economic recovery plan on an ongoing basis to inform our actions as we move forward with recovery efforts.

Mr. Speaker, the pandemic is ongoing and many jurisdictions in Canada have been hit hard. The NWT’s recovery planning needs to be responsive to changing circumstances. All actions must take into consideration our fiscal situation, and the variability and unpredictability of the pandemic’s severity and duration in the NWT, across Canada, and worldwide.

I am hopeful that we can tackle our biggest social and economic challenges with the same urgency we saw in our initial response to the pandemic. That work involves strong partnerships and collaboration with Indigenous governments, communities and other stakeholders. The plan notes the expectation for on-going engagement, including through the GNWT’s budget dialogues as work to plan recovery efforts together continues over the near, medium and long-terms.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the actions this government took early in the pandemic to support individuals and businesses, particularly vulnerable populations and sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. I believe that Emerging Stronger will be an important tool for continuing social and economic recovery as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.