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2020 Year-In-Review: APRIL


GN needs more money to combat Covid-19


Amid the Covid-19 crisis, the territorial and federal governments remained locked in a dispute over health funding. The GN’s “longstanding” agreement with Ottawa for Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) expired on March 31.

NIHB is a federal program that provides Nunavut Inuit with access to health services. The GN “bore most of the costs in delivering this federal program,” said Health Minister George Hickes, stating the GN has been paying upwards of $77 million annually for medical travel.

Hickes is adding this is now affecting the GN’s response capabilities for Covid-19.

“We have arguably the highest health care costs in the country, yet we’re one of the least funded because it’s on a per-capita basis, Hickes said. 

“With respect to Covid-19, we have made our needs abundantly clear. We need financial support to continue to stem the virus from entering our territory.”

During April, the GN doled out $2 million in funds to help out Nunavut’s municipalities with Covid-19 related costs. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL Photo.

Twenty-three Nunavut inmates released due to pandemic concerns


Nunavut’s justice system has set free 23 inmates over the past few weeks due to the potential effects Covid-19 could have on crowded facilities.

Twelve inmates received their early release on April 11. Five of them were serving time at Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit; four were at the Rankin Inlet Healing Facility; while the Nunavut Women’s Correctional Centre in Iqaluit, the Uttaqivik Community Residential Centre – a  halfway house in Iqaluit – and the Kugluktuk Ilavut Centre each housed one of the released inmates.

The Baffin Correctional Centre still housed 43 inmates at the time of the early release.

Visiting and non-essential traffic at penal facilities was suspended, new inmates are being isolated for 14 days and hand-sanitizing stations were installed at high-traffic areas.


Community travel discouraged


Snowmobiles buzzing back and forth across the 76 kilometres between Igulik and Sanirajak is common for much of the year.

Covid-19 has thrown a wrench in that, however. Some continue to make the trip, but others remain unsure about how safe it is in the midst of a global pandemic, even though no cases had yet been diagnosed in Nunavut.

The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson advises against all non-essential travel between communities.

“All Nunavummiut are encouraged to stay home,” reads a statement on behalf of Patterson.

In Sanirajak, Mayor Jaypeetee Audlakiak said he's aware of residents continuing to travel but he said traffic is lower than normal.


Kugluktuk infant dies in self-isolation in NWT


A heartbroken father from Kugluktuk wants the Government of Nunavut to rethink its self-isolation orders after his infant son died recently while the two were quarantined at a Yellowknife hotel. 

Jason Agligoetok’s son Jackson began treatment at Stanton Territorial Hospital for medical issues in early March. A month-long hospital stay followed.

Agligoetok and his son were directed to self-isolate for two weeks in Yellowknife’s Explorer Hotel when Jackson was discharged from the hospital, he said on April 15.

About half-way through the mandatory isolation, Agligoetok said he put his son to bed. When he awoke, his son was unconscious. 

Health Minister George Hickes told CBC North that Jackson’s death isn’t being deemed a death while under the care of the government because it occured at a Yellowknife hotel not operated by the Government of Nunavut.


Nunavut municipalities receive $2 million in funds from GN


In order to cover expenses incurred by responding to Covid-19, $2 million in funding will be allocated to municipalities, announced Premier Joe Savikataaq duri

ng a press conference on April 20.

The money will help cover costs for Covid-19 related signage, information and translations. Expenses incurred due to additional janitorial and custodial staff, increased bylaw and enforcement patrols, lost revenues from facility closures, municipal water delivery and garbage pickup are among other services that will also be covered by this funding.

The Premier also encouraged daycares to apply for federal programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).