The Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) released the Social Indicators COVID-19 Pandemic report that examines potential social impacts of COVID-19 protective health measures.
This report was put together by the Department of Health and Social Services, which established a working group in May 2020 to examine the impacts of COVID-19 as a result of public health measure.
The key social indicators being monitored include child maltreatment, mental health and addictions, alcohol-related harm, and family violence.
Highlights of the report’s findings include:
- a decrease in child maltreatment during the first phase of COVID-19 response, before reporting similar patterns as in the previous year afterwards;
- residents accessing mental supports through the health system and anonymous help lines more frequently than through community counselling;
- increases to alcohol-related medical visits in May, June and July compared to the same months in 2019;
- decline in admissions to family violence shelters in 2020 than in previous years; and
- an increase in Emergency Protection Orders during the same time frame.
When COVID-19 protective measures were first implemented, the GNWT took the following actions to reduce the risk of unintended consequences:
- engaged communities to look out for child maltreatment safety concerns and report them to their local Child and Family Services office;
- communicated that counselling services continued to be available and introduced new ways of accessing them, as well as eliminating wait times;
- reduced hours of sale at all alcohol retailers and placed a limit on all alcohol sales with a maximum of purchase of $200 and a maximum of six 375 ml bottles of liquor per day; and
- communicated that family violence shelters remain opened and distributed 150 cell phones through Victim Services providers.
The working group will continue to monitor these social indicators to ensure that any gaps in service delivery or communications of available programs and services are addressed.
“The GNWT recognizes that the protective measures that were implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year had an impact on all NWT residents. For some, it has impacted their mental health and well-being. This is why we took action to reduce the risk of unintended consequences from these measures. We will continue to monitor and address any gaps in service delivery while responding to this pandemic.”
-Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services
- There are three public health orders that are in effect:
- COVID-19 Relaxing Phase 2 (effective June 12, 2020)
- Directed at Mineral and Petroleum Industry (June 25, 2020)
- Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation Protocol (As Amended December 1, 2020)
- Interpretation of the data needs to be carefully considered. For example, a decrease in family violence shelter admissions may indicate that women are unsure whether shelters are open, or due to pandemic-related measures it made it more difficult for them to leave there homes.
Media Requests, please contact:
Manager of Communications
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034