Unprecedented times are being met with unprecedented measures as the Northwest Territories responds to COVID-19.
Premier Cochrane, Minister Thom, and NWT Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola today announced the formation of the NWT Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce with the mandate to strengthen the territory’s public health enforcement actions to protect the public health of all NWT residents.
Dr. Kandola has brought in Conrad Baetz, who brings decades of experience in delivering compliance and enforcement programs in the NWT, as her right hand and enforcement strategic lead. Baetz has been deputized as a Deputy Chief Public Health Officer.
Taskforce membership will reflect the whole-of-government approach needed to rise to the challenge of the pandemic.
The Taskforce’s first acts: assigning officers from across government to enforce public health orders and investigate non-compliance across all 33 communities, and ramping up collaboration with other organizations across the territory.
This group will coordinate with the established Protect NWT complaint and enforcement structure. Anyone with credible, specific complaints is urged to continue emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-833-378-8297.
“COVID-19 is a threat to the health of all NWT residents. Our government is committed to taking strong action to protect our people and communities, as reflected in the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer. While we expect all residents to do the responsible thing and follow the directions of Dr. Kandola, we also need to be prepared to enforce those orders when it is necessary. Creation of this taskforce will ensure we have the capacity to keep our territory safe.”
- Caroline Cochrane, Premier
“This is a public health emergency, and it’s the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer which will keep us safer, and slow the spread of this virus in our territory. And anyone who chooses not to get on the same team, follow the orders, and help keep our territory safe will be met with consequences. This enforcement taskforce will support the Chief Public Health Officer as she works to keep us all safe.”
- Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services
“Changing behavior is central to responding to a pandemic. Education and awareness is one component, but when there’s a refusal to change behavior, we must use enforcement. Mr. Baetz and his team will lead a coordinated effort to put force behind our orders when necessary across this territory.”
- Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT Chief Public Health Officer
· Departments participating in this initiative include Environment and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Lands, and Health and Social Services.
· The RCMP and Bylaw will play support roles where necessary.
· Minister of Health and Social Services Diane Thom has declared a Public Health Emergency in the Northwest Territories to respond to the challenge of COVID-19 on the recommendation of NWT Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola.
· The Public Health Act gives the Chief Public Health Officer the authority to take any steps necessary to protect public health in the event of a Public Health Emergency.
· During a Public Health Emergency, the Chief Public Health Officer may directly appoint Deputy Chief Public Health Officers and Public Health Officers for public health enforcement purposes.
· Public Health Officers are designated as Peace Officers with the responsibility of enforcing the Public Health Act.
· Individuals who contravene any orders of the Chief Public Health Officer, the Public Health Act or its regulations may be subject to fines of up to $10,000 or a prison term of up-to six months for a first offence.