Arviat MLA says Canadian Armed Forces could help hamlet overcome COVID-19 outbreak

Nunavut government says hamlet is ‘on the right track’ without military’s aid

The Hamlet of Arviat declared a two-week local state of emergency Feb. 24 due the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the community of about 3,000. With local resources stretched, John Main, MLA for Arviat North, suggests calling in the Canadian Armed Forces to assist could be a good idea. (File photo)

By Jane George

Updated at 8 p.m.

The Canadian Armed Forces could assist Arviat in containing its outbreak of COVID-19, says John Main, MLA for Arviat North–Whale Cove.

Members of the military could set up tents or other temporary shelters for those living in overcrowded housing units or who are part of the community’s hidden homeless population, Main told Nunatsiaq News.

Setting up tents for residents to self-isolate has been done previously in northern reserves and cities across Canada, particularly for homeless or at-risk persons, Main said.

As well, the military could help to support the local health staff, he said.

“Staff shortages are a continual concern,” Main said. “Burnout is a concern. Residents are putting off non-essential health needs, creating a backlog of needs — and dental services have not been available for months.”

Soldiers could also establish an overflow medical treatment location and help with COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, Main suggested.

Staff from the local health centre in Arviat have been taking blood from some patients in unheated cold porches, Main said, from “those who are COVID-19-positive or awaiting results, I believe.”

Since last November, 359 people in this Kivalliq community of about 3,000 have contracted COVID-19. As of Tuesday, there were still nine active cases of COVID-19 in Arviat. All of Nunavut’s active cases are in Arviat.

Speaking in the Nunavut legislature Feb. 22, Main asked Premier Joe Savikataaq, also the MLA for Arviat South, whether the territorial government had thought about requesting assistance from the federal government or from the armed forces.

Savikataaq said that decision would be left up to Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

The territorial Public Health Act authorizes the chief public health officer to take any measure for protection of public health during an emergency.

But there is nothing to preclude the Hamlet of Arviat, which already declared a two-week state of emergency starting Feb. 24, from seeking this assistance, according to Nunavut’s Emergency Measures Act.

Last November, a team of infection prevention and control specialists from the Canadian Red Cross went to Arviat to provide assessments, training and advice on epidemic prevention and control.

Nunavut’s Health Department said in a statement to Nunatsiaq News that the government continues to work with the Hamlet of Arviat to provide additional supports and “listen to their needs and issues.”

“The GN is in regular communication with federal government of Canada, but at this time there is not an operational need for greater involvement to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the statement said.

The GN said it has seen a decline in the number of active cases in Arviat, and that “the community is on the right track to contain the spread of the virus.”

“Moreover, community transmission has not been identified in Arviat; links between all cases have been identified via contact tracing,” the statement said.

The Canadian Armed Forces has been deployed on several occasions during the pandemic to help with COVID-19 outbreaks: the federal government recently sent a team to the Pimicikamak/Cross Lake First Nation reserve, more than 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Among other tasks, soldiers planned to conduct wellness checks and set up and operate alternative isolation arrangements.

Correction: The headline on this article was changed from an earlier version to better reflect that MLA John Main was pointing out what the military could do if it were deployed to Arviat.

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by Michael Cunning on

    Out of the 3,000 people who live in Arviat, how many have had their vaccines? How may are all done the two shots? I would think Arviat would be at the top of the list to get the vaccines.

    • Posted by Not enough on

      Unfortunately many are not taking the vaccine out of fear, based on misinformation and not understanding how vaccines work, many think there’s microchips in the vaccine, it’ll infect you with COVID-19, change your DNA, religious beliefs. All based on misinformation.
      Even with Covid in Arviat many refuse to take the vaccine. Very unfortunate.

      • Posted by not so on

        Where do you get your information from? total fake news stop it please. replace your ignorance with knowledge and stop bashing the people of Arviat.

      • Posted by Arctic Fox on

        Do you have a source for this? As far as I’m aware, at least 70% of adults in Arviat got the vaccine. This is a normal uptake rate and does not reflect increased vaccine hesitancy.

        • Posted by I’m not sure on

          Not sure but I heard it was around 50% can the GN publish how many have been vaccinated in all the communities?

          • Posted by Vaccinated on

            Only 8628 people have received the first vaccine in Nunavut so far, 5125 have received their second vaccine. The numbers seem low and I am assuming Arviat numbers are low too.
            If you don’t want the vaccine send them to Iqaluit, we are waiting for our first vaccine.

  2. Posted by Arviat guess on

    John main were ok !! Why didn’t you and the other MLa do this in the first place? If we even have a another mla now and who want to be in tents in the -50 -60 walk up.

    • Posted by Cold tent? Duhh they’re insulated on

      Do you think they will put them in….canvas tents? looks like you’ve never seen any tents they use, they are big spacious insulated tents that are as warm as your home. I think it’s a good idea that they’re looking into this.

  3. Posted by IQ on

    “Members of the military could set up tents …”
    Yes, they could. Except few of them are used to setting up their large canvass tents on frozen ground.
    Anyway, igloos are warmer than tents when it’s 40 below and the wind is blowing.
    I’m sure there are a few soldiers who can build igloos, but I expect there are more elders in Arviat with that skill.

  4. Posted by Jimmy on

    The Army? A federal institution? Sounds like something your MP could be working on.

    Oh, wait ….. disregard.

    • Posted by Norm on

      LOL bring in the army because they do not know how to stay home!

      if you go to the store, don’t be close and wear a mask.

      Wash your hands.

      What is so hard???? The army has to come in??? LOL

    • Posted by anon on

      The military won’t come unless they are requested by a provincial or territorial government. Many people involved in long-term care in Ontario requested that the military be sent in to assist and the ON government refused to make the call.

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        The Canadian Forces did assist with Ontario Long Term Care Homes at the request of the Ontario government in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when LTC was undergoing a crisis with infection (both workers & residents).
        The Canadian Forces followed up with a report for the Ontario government detailing their findings and providing recommendations. The Ontario government made some immediate changes. IIRC the report provided by the Canadian Forces was critical of the care provided, the training of the personnel, and the oversight of the Ontario government.

        The Canadian Forces also has been active in northern Manitoba in First Nation communities which have had outbreaks, I believe Shamattawa and Cross Lake are two locations.

  5. Posted by Silly fbooker posts on

    I’m s outrageous to assume our armed forces wouldn’t set up tents or more accommodating arrangements to combat the overcrowding, if you ask me the nay sayers have every opportunity to minimize risks but i can only leave that to the folks who think better.

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      I’m sure that the Canadian Forces would be more than willing to go to Arviat and assist in any way they can. They are not however allowed to just go wherever they choose.
      A territory or province must first request from the federal government that the military be deployed. Obviously the territory and the federal government would have to agree on the scope of the mission. The military is active throughout the year assisting Canadian citizens in any province or territory when asked.
      At the start of the outbreak in Arviat I suggested that the military be requested. This would have provided assistance to not only the GN medical personnel for testing and quarantine, but also to the local personnel in enforcing a quarantine, distributing food, wellness checks, fuel & water delivery, etc.
      One of the issues Canada has had is that we do not have an effective lock down or quarantines. Recall how China handled Wuhan, 1 person per house was allowed out for 1 hour a day to shop, otherwise everyone was confined to their houses. Sick people were moved out to purpose built hospitals. Their quarantine lasted 76 days, but that was a city of 11 million.
      It really should have been possible to test everyone in Arviat inside of a few days, segregate anyone sick, retest every 3 or 4 days, and get the whole pandemic wrapped up in one or two infection cycles (roughly 10 days x 2 = 20 days).
      So instead of forcing everyone to stay home for 3 weeks we spend 4+ months having reinfection after reinfection. Of course that’s the same throughout Canada. We should have followed the example from New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia, etc.

  6. Posted by Camper on

    Tiny Homes was denied….now its time to build em for isolation hubs in the north – Cabins and wood stove will help with provided fuel for coleman stove, lantern etc…tents during this winter season, won’t help much! CABINS…insulated or not and with wood stove, coleman stove and lantern…..well…easier said then done…

  7. Posted by boris pasternak on

    I have been listening your echoes on the local radio station all these months, just that; echoes. Will someone please step up to the plate for the next election coming soon. I am pretty much fed up with leaders (wannabes) with no new ideas or approaches to manage this vast land, it’s many destitute and it’s sick with very little hope of improve housing; which this area is the main ills to most of the Nunavut communities, specially to this community of 3000 where about 35% of the houses are overcrowded, plaque by drug addiction, booze, and elder children who bully the entire household and often abusing the parents.

  8. Posted by Cheryl on

    This sounds very ridiculous! Theres only 9 cases currently and we don’t need the military involved as to now. Why wasn’t this opportunity taken when we hit over 200+ cases? Anyway, this idea will take alot of work and $$ and hiring more ppl to work. I say it’s not a good idea.

    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      Not just military but trained troops who can do arctic exercise. CFB Gagetown have a very good bunch. But the stem of the problem is the over-crowding houses at the same time in Nunavut, many adult children moving into parents homes because the do not pay their rents, bringing in the entire family with them. This creates social problem when they start draining the parent’s finances, which really is a big problem of abuse, poor parents start losing their hard earned CPPs, Old Age security checks and pensions and what ever was coming smoothly to the elderly parents. that is one part of the problem; other part is the MLAs; looking after their future needs with days of the elections, they often become “yes” people to strong interest groups, never ever giving thoughts again to their election promises. Is this the part of Political Sciences curriculum studies; when absolute power corrupts, it corrupts absolutely? Trump/Putin?

  9. Posted by Umingmak on

    Main proposes martial law? Really?

    Absolutely nuts.

    Yes, Arviatmiut need to start caring more. It’s clear that they haven’t been following the rules or making an effort to end the spread of COVID-19 within their community (unlike Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet and Sanikiluaq which all prevented any community spread), but bringing in the military to enforce martial law is NOT the answer.

    • Posted by really on

      Do some research and you may learn how false your words are on how Arviat is doing. if you can’t see past the numbers and dig into the real issues you shouldn’t type fake news. read something other than facebook you may surprise even yourself

    • Posted by Observation Post on

      “Main proposes martial law? Really?”

      No, not really… read the story and make informed comments, not reactive non-sense

  10. Posted by Sam on

    10 more cases today, I did not agree with john at first, but he said the right thing , this is dragging out way too long, bring in the army lock them down,


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