Iqaluit declares state of emergency

81 active cases now in Nunavut capital, low-barrier shelter shuttered

Since Iqaluit’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed 19 days ago, there have been over 1,500 swabs conducted in the city and of those, 125, or roughly eight per cent have been positive. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

Iqaluit city council has declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that arrived in Nunavut’s capital more than two weeks ago.

The declaration, passed unanimously by councillors during an emergency meeting Monday afternoon, follows last week’s announcement that community transmission of the virus was taking place in the city.

“We made the motion specifically to enforce the fact that it is an emergency,” said Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell.

“We want to make sure the citizens understand that it is a very serious event going on here and we need everyone to listen to the chief public health officer’s orders.”

The declaration comes as Premier Joe Savikataaq reported eight new cases and three recoveries in the capital city on Monday morning.

There are now 81 active COVID-19 cases in Iqaluit, a number that has nearly doubled in the past week.

The state of emergency, which takes effect Tuesday at 12 a.m., will give the city access to “limited authorities” under the territory’s Emergency Measures Act.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who made the motion to declare the state of emergency during Monday’s meeting, pointed on Twitter to a section of the law that lists the powers it gives the municipality. They include implementing the city’s emergency management program, acquiring property needed during the emergency, constructing works or demolishing structures.

Bell also added that it does give the city some additional powers.

“Municipal enforcement is already enforcing the CPHO orders but it gives us a little bit more power to do so and makes it possible to appoint additional personnel as officers to assist with compliance,” he said.

Bell added that the declaration means that city staff may be directed to other things to help out around the community within the context of the emergency.

He also expressed his gratitude that staff have been successful at doing this as needed throughout the entire pandemic.

As part of Monday’s motion, council also designated the city’s chief administrative officer, Amy Elgersma, as the city’s emergency management coordinator.

Council’s move came as the outbreak’s impact continues to expand. Over the weekend, Iqaluit’s low-barrier shelter, which is run by the Uquutaq Society, was forced to close its doors due to a COVID-related staffing shortage.

“All four staff are in COVID isolation, with one testing positive,” wrote Laurel McCorriston, executive director of the Uquutaq Society, on Facebook Sunday afternoon.

When asked whether the city’s emergency declaration would help the shelter reopen, Bell was unsure, though he did stress the importance of the service it provides.

According to McCorriston, there has been talk between the shelter and the Department of Family Services about the possibility of additional help.

However, those people would require training and McCorriston said that there is currently nobody available to train them.

When asked whether the staffing shortages could extend to the society’s 60-bed shelter and transitional home, McCorriston said that although it’s possible, she doesn’t foresee it.

In addition to Monday’s declaration, Bell also said that the City of Iqaluit’s COVID-19 task force, which was created over a year ago at the onset of the pandemic, continues to meet every other day.

The meetings provide a chance for various city departments to provide regular updates and, if there are problems, an opportunity to find solutions.

To date there have been 1,533 tests conducted in Iqaluit. Of those, 125, or roughly eight per cent, have been positive.

Meanwhile, across the territory, there continue to be two active cases of COVID-19 in Rankin Inlet and two in Kinngait.
For updated information and resources on COVID-19, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.
The government’s next COVID-19 update will be held on Tuesday, May 4, at 11 a.m. eastern time.

Share This Story

(38) Comments:

  1. Posted by Old Timer on

    Send in the military army to set up tents.

    • Posted by Local person on


    • Posted by And then on

      They did nothing!🤣🤣

  2. Posted by AND on

    So you declare a state of emergency and don’t release what the restrictions will be?

    Poor communication.

    • Posted by Disgruntled on

      Hit the nail on the head

  3. Posted by Freedumb on

    Say goodbye to all your rights wait til police start following draconian orders and arrested people without cause this is 1984 folks

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      And that type of thinking is what has killed over 24,000 of your fellow citizens in the last year (and I might add well in excess of 3 million people worldwide).
      In case you haven’t heard, it is a GLOBAL PANDEMIC the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 100 years.
      Also in case you haven’t paid attention there are countries that have successfully coped with this pandemic; Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam to name a few. What have these countries done? .
      They had very strict lockdowns at the start with heavy penalties for idiots who thought that they knew better than experts. They had politicians who put their jobs on the line for their citizens. They had very very strict entry and quarantine requirements. Any outbreak was quickly quashed.
      And it worked.
      And restrictions were lifted, and citizens of those countries are basically living normal lives. It should have happened here but very few of our politicians had the fortitude to take the harsh, but temporary, measures that are needed during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC!
      Now we need to depend on getting enough people vaccinated before too many other of our parents, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters die due to Covid-19.

      • Posted by Old bad hip wrecked back on

        Well said and very true sir.
        Jason Kenney’s stumbling and bumbling in Alberta is a prime example of stuttering and mis-handling every single thing he touches. Alberta’s politicians have put us in first place of all provinces and states in North America for inept measures to control covid

    • Posted by Ummm on

      Most people DO consider multiple sides of an issue, and most of those people can respect or live with what is imposed on them because it’s usually for the greater good.
      Seems like it’s posters like you and the one above that ONLY see the OTHER side of the coin and NEVER consider the popular opinion, just “because”.
      The fact that you always suspect leader are evil says more about you then it does about them. Always picking the opposing side makes you just as much as a sheep as someone who kisses Trudeau’s butt. The world isn’t black and white.

  4. Posted by Marcus on

    So you declare an emergency but don’t reveal any further details of what is actually different than now. I bet the beer and wine store is still open, that could pack a line during an apocalypse. This lack of leadership is appalling. Earth to Mayor, posting continued posts on social media asking the public to follow public health releases is a not leadership. That’s a no brainer

    • Posted by Bring Sanity on

      Closing alcohol stores causes a public health problem of alcoholics in alcohol withdrawal and worsens demand on hospitals.

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        Closing the B & W store may cause an inconvenience to a few and if hospitalization will help, I say go for it.

        However, the lineups at the beer and wine store with everyone with no masks and bumping into each other is a strong source of transmission of the virus.
        Close the B & W store, bars, and restaurants. Close any visitors to the Medical boarding home and the care facilities (adult and children),
        Hire additional security to control access to all public buildings, including grocery stores, churches, hospitals, and clinics.
        Close all traffic in and out of Iqaluit

        Enforce stay-at-home orders and masks in public with the prospect of heavy fines.

        Draconian? Maybe. Do I care if it hurts your sense of freedom? No.

        Enforce this for one month,. Test everyone at the end of one month before relaxing them again.

      • Posted by No time for partying at this time on

        Does a so called alcohol dependant person need a 24 beer or two bottles a day. The dependable ones can do with a few sips to get by. The multi hundred citizens are not all dependant so your line is a bit flat and getting old. We have absolutely no leadership on this sad state whereby people are partying and placing all at risk in doing so. Cut back in the amount and this will reduce the risk to all.

  5. Posted by Dave Mcinnis on

    Probably has less to do with more restrictions and more to do with releasing emergency funding.

  6. Posted by Peter Alareak on

    Our prayers are for Iqaluit, Kingait and Rankin, Like our Mayor has turn to our God for help along with his little daughter reading daily from the book of God, I hope the other community will do like wise to be freed from cuvid, Arviat had three people who encouraged Arviamiut daily, Our Mayor along with his little dauther who read the words of God and also Hamlet SAO who worked without ever saying anything that hint of him being tired. Let the leaders of those community turn to God for help. Bless you all.

  7. Posted by Great move on

    Oh, I thought this is for the potholes and poorly maintained side walks. Since the City continuously keep neglecting its walking and driving citizen, a City of Emergency would be appropriate.

    On a more serious side, yes, it’s a good idea to declare an emergency, but you also have to have measure in place to enforce and collect it.
    Most residents are complying with the given CPHO rules, but many don’t. No masks in vehicles with multiple drivers (including in City vehicles), lots of pedestrians have no protection and yet, no enforcement. COVID-19 can be easily overcome in Nunavut, but it also can create a very high casual list if we are not carefull

    • Posted by Your so dumb on

      Why should they fix the potholes when everyone is supposed to be staying home!

  8. Posted by Crystal on

    That too too long to happen. It all came from only one essential worker who did not isolate. Start demanding essential workers who come in from the south to isolate.

    • Posted by Essential workers? on

      Keep believing all the crap you see on facebook. Nobody knows if it was an essential worker. In fact, many of the cases were from people in the isolation hubs sharing cigarettes and lighters, the CBC just published an article about this. Stop spreading lies.

        • Posted by Wrong again on

          Yes Canadian North was the first to announce publicly that one of their employees tested positive. At the same time, it was discovered that the employee’s case among other cases was likely the result of community spread at a local bar. The employee had been in Iqaluit for 16 days when the test was positive. Read between the lines. Either way everyone is blaming essential workers when in fact they are the ones wearing masks, they are the ones not socializing, they are the ones taking the rules seriously. Its people at the hubs who don’t follow the rules. Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself.

          • Posted by Reader on

            Not that it matters much, but how is what I said wrong. I said the first person to test positive in Iqaluit was a rotational worker with Canadian North. I didn’t say that this worker brought covid into Nunavut. You implied that the CBC article confirmed your theory that it was brought into Iqaluit because of behavior at the isolation hubs. That is not what the article was about at all. It was about the first cases of Covid in Nunavut.

          • Posted by huh on

            Dr. Patterson looked at the timeline and said it was possible that the first positive case was the result of community spread. He didn’t say or imply that it was likely. He simply didn’t want to rule that out completely.
            Yes, the majority of rotational workers are going above and beyond to follow the rules and help keep everyone safe, but when you have hundreds of imperfect people on the honor system, eventually there is bound to be a breach.

  9. Posted by Snappy 20 on

    Nothing to see here folks. This is just a technicality so the hamlet can access emergency funding.

  10. Posted by Common Sense and Sense-Ability on

    Good first step and now it’s time for someone to talk some sense into the mayor to stop spreading false information and being so out of line in the way he’s responding to how hard every one is working to get this outbreak in control. Now more than every the city needs someone with a cool head to lead and communicate to the public and the governments. I nominate the deputy mayor.

  11. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Not likely to. implies MAY.

    I have had both vaccinations, but I can still get the virus (and perhaps not know it)
    The vaccinations allow me more immunity to fight off the virus for me. not for me to not pass it on.

    I will continue to wear my mask when out in public.

  12. Posted by Facebook Kenny on

    Message for Mayor Bell saying on Facebook how wrong people are.
    Kenny, why enact a state of emergency when the only powers you can use involve real estate? Why heighten tensions? I watched today and you guys provided no details on the plan. Sounds like there is none. You don’t need this in place for bylaw officers to be sworn as peace officers to enforce territorial law.

    • Posted by Facebook Kyle on

      Message for councillor Kyle Sheppard who is calling this post out on Facebook.
      Kyle, I didn’t realize that you had were a lawyer. Maybe you can explain how real estate and real property are distinguishable? Or maybe just stick to your day job.
      Can’t wait to see how the City uses these big new powers. Under emergency measures act you can now demo some vegetation, construct works or acquire real property. All stuff you could do before I think but Glad we will all be saved by this heroic act. Congratulations on making national news and creating unnecessary hysteria with the public you serve who don’t know enough to know any better.

  13. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    The efficacy rate for a fully vaccinated individual (two weeks after the last dose) based on the Moderna trial is 94.5%. That means that a minimum of 5.5% of the people could still contract and spread the coronavirus.
    Additionally the study was to determine the number of people who would get ill with Covid-19. There is still a chance that a vaccinated person could contract the coronavirus and spread it to others. That’s why we need you to wear a mask in public.
    If we reach herd immunity (probably 85 – 90% of the population then the chances are far less of the virus spreading if it is introduced into the population. But first we have to get the virus to near zero levels.

  14. Posted by No !!! on

    That’s not true. It seems that the vaccines do not prevent transmission. Rather, they prevent people from getting too sick. It IS possible to get covid when wogh a vaccine and it is possible to transmit it to others. We need to wear masks to keep ourselves and others safe. Think about all the people who are not or cannot be vaccinated (children!!!). Wear a mask to keep them safe.

  15. Posted by wear a friggin mask on

    I need to go out because of my job. i try to stay at home as much as possible.I even wear a mask when I’m alone in my vehicle. It is totally disgusting and reckless of how many people are walking jogging and standing around talking to their neighbours with no masks. it’s over 50 % of people are not taking this seriously. honeslty its pathetic
    Its time to start enforcing the wear a mask rule with hefty fines and posted on public service announcements.

    • Posted by John Harold on

      Wearing a mask alone in your car suggests a concerning lack of critical thinking skills with a dash of hysteria on top.

      • Posted by Yep on

        Yup. A person driving alome with a mask is a tad crazy. I bring along a mask with me when I go walk, out of respect in case someone needs to pass close by, but being outdoors is nearly covid-proof. That’s why chief medical officers across Canada aren’t closing public parks. All transmission is happening indoors. Stay 6 feet away when you talk to your neighbour. Easy as that.
        We need to respect each other’s space without going completely bananas. There’s a middle ground where most of us can be without being irrational. T

        • Posted by anon on

          I leave my mask on in the car so I don’t have to touch it while I’m out.

    • Posted by Alone on

      If you choose to wear a mask alone in your car, that is your choice. I certainly hope you don’t attempt to brand people who choose not to do that as irresponsible. If so, I would like to hear some scientifically backed reasoning on why you feel that way.

      I’d also like to hear your reasoning on why I must wear a mask while jogging. If there is no one anyone near me (for example, if I’m not in the heart of downtown, where people are passing each other constantly) and I am outside, the direction elsewhere in Canada has been no mask is necessary.

  16. Posted by Baffin on

    So haven’t you seen the case count in Yellowknife?
    1000 close contacts from Rae Edzo to School in Yellowknife
    Time for the anti maskers to be fine and large $2000 fines at that!
    Nunavut needs their people to listen
    This is the UK variant
    Not the Covid 19 from 2020
    You escaped last year,not this year
    Be smarter than NWT

  17. Posted by John Harold on

    So… like… is anyone gonna tell us what this is supposed to mean? Or…

  18. Posted by K Sheppard on

    People actually “work” from home? Qisu?


Comments are closed.