Check against delivery
Good morning. Thank you all for being here today. With me are Minister Julie Green, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola, and Territorial Medical Director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg.
Since the beginning of 2021, our government has been hard at work putting into action a vaccination strategy that has been one of the most aggressive campaigns in the history of the Northwest Territories. We have always said that our main priority during this pandemic has been to protect residents and communities, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus. The efforts of our health care professionals who have helped to vaccinate residents in all 33 of our communities, some of the most remote in Canada, has been nothing but impressive. The work undertaken by Dr. Pegg and the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is helping us to protect our loved ones and positions us where we can begin to look at life post-pandemic, which includes our social and economic recovery.
However, I must continue to impress upon residents that even if you have your first dose of the vaccine, our work is not quite done. It’s important we don’t let our guard down just yet. Even if a significant number of residents have been vaccinated, we still need to protect those around us who have not yet or cannot get the vaccine. While the vaccination plan is progressing as planned, we all need to continue to do our part and follow the public health orders, wear a mask, wash our hands, and keep a safe distance.
As we have seen with the outbreak at the Gahcho Kue mine, it can only take a few cases to cause the need for strict measures to be undertaken. I want to thank De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds for their swift efforts to limit further spread of the virus, and am confident they will continue to ensure they are vigorously testing their employees, and working to limit the spread of COVID-19. I also want to thank all the businesses and residents who have continued to work to keep us all safe.
It is not lost on the government that these are trying times for everyone. The pressure the pandemic is placing on residents and businesses is apparent, and pandemic fatigue has been setting in for many of us. We are approaching the one-year mark since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been one of the most difficult times many of us have faced and it has had an impact on personal and emotional well-being of us all. This a difficult time for everyone, and the increased pressure the pandemic has put on each of us should not be ignored. Self-care is so important, and I encourage everyone who may be feeling down to reach out to friends, family or to the NWT Helpline at 1-800-661-0844 for support.
I have said it many times, but one of the lasting legacies of COVID-19 will be how we treated one another, and I encourage all NWT residents to support those who are having a difficult time. We all play an important role to encourage a society where we can all talk more openly about how we are feeling. We need to work together to affect change around the attitudes and stigma that exists – and this starts with being kind to one another.
I’d now like to turn it over to Minister Green to provide her remarks.