Nunavut premier clarifies rules about who pays for self-isolation stays

Those who voluntarily leave the territory as of May 7 will pay cost of staying in isolation hubs before returning

Nunavummiut who voluntarily leave the territory for non-essential travel as of May 7 will have to pay for a 14-day stay in isolation before returning, while the territory’s travel restrictions intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 are in effect. But residents who left the territory before May 7 will still have their self-isolation stays paid for by the Government of Nunavut. (File photo)

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut’s premier is clarifying which residents returning to the territory from southern Canada will have to pay the cost of their self-isolation stays.

The government announced late last week that, as of this Thursday, May 7, residents wanting to return to the territory who had left voluntarily must pay for their 14-day self-isolation stays in one of four designated hotels.

But Premier Joe Savikataaq clarified on Monday, May 4, that this only applies to residents who leave the territory after May 7. Those who left the territory before then won’t need to pay.

Nunavut residents have been required to stay in isolation hubs before returning to the territory since March 23, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The cost of the isolation stays will be $2,100 for one person, and $1,050 for each additional person in a party. The cost includes a hotel room, security and transportation to the airport.

The territory’s medical travel patients and GN employees on travel duty will continue to have their self-isolation stays paid for them.

Savikataaq said that the government has paid over $2 million for the self-isolation stays so far.

“We need to focus our funds on other things like keeping airlines operational, procuring essential supplies, and ensuring our economy stays afloat,” he said.

“Most of us won’t have the summer vacation we planned.”

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by tax payer on

    I actually agree with this. If you leave Nunavut on or after May 7 you should be responsible to pay your way back.

  2. Posted by New beginning on

    What about the new Nunavut residents? Those who will move up North with new jobs?

    • Posted by Expected Cost on

      I can’t imagine that new residents, if GN employees, will be required to pay themselves.

      Private employers will have to swallow the cost for any new employees as well. No one is going to take a new job and then agree to pay this cost.

      The quarantine cost would be a normal and expected cost of hiring new employees.

  3. Posted by Stressed on

    I am pretty sure that there are many other teachers working in Nunavut right now that are stressed out about the possibility of having to pay an extra $2000 on top of the $2-3000 in air fare to go and visit their family this summer. I know I am. Most people who live in large families here in Nunavut do not seem to understand how difficult it can be for those who came up alone to work here. We have no support! Not knowing if I can actually afford to go see my kids and family this summer is stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching here, but the mental health for many teachers will deteriorate quickly, meaning that when school does open, we will not be able to deal with all the social / emotional problems that crosses our classroom door every single day. I am hoping that by the time August comes along, the restriction will be lifted. But the thought of having to stay in place until Christmas time is very daunting for sure.
    Maybe I should have left after the school first closed, then I would have not had to fork out an extra $2000 to come back to a job that I love.

    • Posted by Stressed Too on

      I fully agree with Stressed. I also enjoy teaching here. I did not leave in March when 93 other teachers chose to do so, regardless of their reasons. I do feel however, that I am paying for the choices of those 93. They can return in August without having to pay the isolation costs because some of them bailed so quickly. The huge majority of teachers remained here, trusting that their employer would take care of them in this unprecedented global crisis.

      Instead, although we were NOT deemed to be essential workers, we were still mandated to return to work at schools around the territory. And now, when we can finally leave of our own free will in June, you decide to force us to pay $2100 to return to our much loved jobs in August, And god help us if we bring anyone else with us – every additional person in our isolation room is an extra $1000.

      So, to recap, we are not essential workers. However, we were forced to return to work. How is it that we non-essential workers HAD to return to work? Essential workers do not have to self-isolate when coming into territory. Teachers will be forced to self-isolate and pay $2100 before returning to their non-essential jobs. Can anyone explain this logic?

      Not only that, but by forcing us to remain here to the end of the school year distributing “busy work” that could be fully organized and distributed by teachers in one day, you have effectively shortened our much needed, recharging two month summer break to four weeks because we have to self-isolate at the beginning and end of our break. I have elderly parents and other immediate family members who need me in my home province. I’m sure most of us do.

      Then the premier openly states that if teachers choose to not return to the territory, he has heard that Ontario just laid off a lot of teachers and maybe they would come here. Mr. Premier. Really? Really?

      The cruel actions of my employer in this unprecedented, highly stressful time need to reach the attention of the national media. Maybe that might spur some kinder action than what we have been experiencing thus far. I think many Canadians would be appalled by this treatment of Nunavut teachers who are, despite all of this, continuing to provide for our students as best we can while we cope with our own stresses.

      Honestly, those teachers who don’t quit as a result of this shoddy treatment by our employer, had better be mentally and emotionally prepared for the upcoming academic year, because like everyone else, teachers can only handle so much before they break.

      • Posted by George on

        I tend to agree with you. Teachers returning should be excluded from paying these post-May 7 travel costs. Part of their employment is to return to a job that the GN hired them for. Almost like essential workers. I am pretty certain the premier & advisors will amend this evolving return travel policy.

  4. Posted by Out to Lunch on

    So… the teachers who left when schools first closed against the recommendations of Dr. Patterson and the NTA will not have to pay for their isolation costs when they come back. But the teachers who followed the recommendations and stayed until the last day of school will have to pay when they return. Some teachers need to leave this summer for a few weeks to check in on family members. This is ridiculous!!

  5. Posted by Concerned on

    Why not test people 1 or 2 days before boarding? Results are usually available within 24-hours. Alternatively, isolate when in the Territory.

  6. Posted by Good luck verifying on

    How will you verify when I leave? Boarding pass? Oh I lost the original, here’s my digital copy. Modifying that to say may 6th was easy.
    The only way to do this is to say anyone not back here by May 7th is paying. Who is giving policy advice on this?

  7. Posted by Confused on

    I am thinking back to when I was a first year teacher years ago and I could not have afford the $2100 quarantine fee if it had existed then. I would have had student loans and my family couldn’t help. I don’t know if any new teachers can afford to come to Nunavut now which is a shame.

  8. Posted by Eski Moses on

    So, the government imposes travel restrictions and now the government will be collecting $2,100 for one person and $1,050 for each additional person for room, security and transport to the airport for people that decides to travel south on their own and needs to go back home to Nunavut. Under what Nunavut law does the GN have the authority to levy such travel fees?

  9. Posted by Argh on

    Meanwhile at the CBC at 5 pm today…

    Nunavut Government caves to public complaints.

    “”Starting Thursday, May 7, the government was going to ask residents to pay for their own mandatory two-week stay in a southern hotel before they could come home. That cost, to be paid in advance, was $2,100 for one person and another $1,050 for each additional person.

    But Premier Joe Savikataaq says that’s not happening anymore.

    “Travel at this time is a risk and we don’t want to undo all the hard work we have done,” he said, and apologized for the confusion. He said the government doesn’t want to financially burden Nunavummiut right now. “”

    Some (not all) of those whom elected to travel post March 13th on a voluntary basis would have be able to claim the accommodation-related travel expense deductions at 2020 tax filing anyways.

    • Posted by Jean on

      I don’t think the Premier & his advisors ‘caved’ but rather they have been under an enormous amount of stress & pressure lately. They recognized they made an overhanded hard-line preventative decision designed to insulate & protect Nunavut & Nunavummiut. They are trying to ‘save’ lives. I doubt the Premier has been sleeping well for many months. Respect??

  10. Posted by Name withheld on

    Teachers get paid for the whole summer they are not teaching, yes they still continue to pay rent if they are coming back. But come on teachers this applies for everyone not only you if you choose to leave after May 7… Stop complaining and get use to living in Nunavut… If you are a teacher, in mining, In the Legislative there are no exception and that is what the GN is saying

    • Posted by Pardon? on

      Contrary to popular belief, the pay that teachers receive in July and August is back pay. Teacher contracts are negotiated for the school year (190-195 school days, which is approximately 10 months) and split over the calendar year. Call it a kind of forced savings, if you will. Please stop disregarding or glossing over the truth that perpetuates this myth about the millions of dollars teachers make in a school year.

  11. Posted by lunch-box on

    Some devoted teachers that once put their hearts and personal time to the children of Nunavut have moved on. They’re not coming back, they are disappointed and disgusted with how this government tried to force them
    into going to the the quarantine locations in the south before May 7, 2020. A blatant attempt by this government publicly bullying the teachers and it failed miserably. This was never about cost recovery-most teachers know any government can manage the funds regardless of cost. Hickes’ full turn-around to picking up the cost is proof. Some communities should expect to have a high number of teacher vacancies. Who wants to work for a system that doesn’t respect them or care for them?

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