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Extra help for Arviat and thorough Covid review needed, Main says

Allan Rumbolt feat. John Main
“Without a coordinated approach, I feel that the negative effects (from Covid-19) could linger longer than necessary,” said John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, who participated in the last sitting of the legislative assembly via video from Arviat because the recent lockdown prevented him from travelling. Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt, centre, and Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak are also pictured. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

The Government of Nunavut should draft a recovery plan to help Arviat rebound from its Covid-19 outbreaks and lockdowns that lasted months, MLA John Main says.

He's seeking extra help for the community's health care, mental health counselling, dental care, development and renovation of existing housing, business development and support, K to 12 and adult education, basic government services, social work, family support and child care.

“It’s unprecedented ... without a coordinated approach, I feel that the negative effects could linger longer than necessary,” Main said in the legislative assembly on March 5.

Premier Joe Savikataaq, who also represents Arviat, said he intends to visit the community once public health measures allow it. There have been 339 cases of Covid diagnosed there since November.

“As soon as Arviat starts opening up, and restrictions start being lifted, I know that all the departments will be in there to do any catching up, if need be,” Savikataaq said. “I talk to all my ministers daily, and I’ve been assured that if there’s any backlog of any services in Arviat that they will be doing their best to get it caught up as soon as available.

“Maybe we can do (it) with our own resources. If we need any other resources, then the appropriate the departments, or the CPHO (chief public health officer) or whoever else can ask for assistance from outside of the territory.”

On March 15, Main called for a formal evaluation of the government's actions to be undertaken to better understand what could have been done better during the pandemic, and where gaps exist.

“My hope is that such a formal evaluation would be of use and it would strengthen future efforts to tackle public health matters, perhaps, such as tuberculosis, which we know as a public health issue that has plagued Nunavut for far too long,” Main said.

Savikataaq replied that once the virus has been vanquished in communities, the CPHO and the health department conduct an evaluation and debriefing.

“It’s not to lay blame. It’s so that OK, if this happens again, what can we do better next time? What really worked well and what didn’t work well?” the premier said.

In the meantime, he urged Nunavummiut not to let their guards down. He advised residents to continue wearing masks, venture outside only when necessary and wash their hands frequently, despite increasing numbers of vaccinations against the coronavirus.

“People who still never received vaccine shots may have that disease and will not show symptoms,” he said. “Life is too precious and we could stop this deadly disease by following simple instructions given by CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and Dr. (Michael) Patterson. Let’s do our part so that we can normalize our living environment we had before.”