Nunavut MLAs now exempt from isolation requirements when on official travel

Isolation hubs to remain in place until reliable testing capacity available in territory

MLAs are now exempt from isolation requirements put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. There will also be no more weekly updates from the Government of Nunavut for the rest of August, Premier Joe Savikataaq said earlier today. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Nunavut MLAs are now exempt from mandatory isolation requirements put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the territory’s chief public health officer.

Nunavut’s member of Parliament, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, and Senator Dennis Patterson were already exempt from isolation requirements.

The exemption applies only to “official travel necessary to conduct parliamentary, legislative assembly and constituency business and does not apply to travel for personal matters,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, at the government’s COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Despite the exemption, government representatives can still choose to go through the isolation hubs.

The exemption does not apply to government staff or government representatives’ family members.

To re-enter the territory, government representatives need to go through the same process as critical workers.

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That means for the first 14 days after arriving in Nunavut, government representatives need to “respect social distancing when at work, isolate at home when not at work and wear a mask where separation cannot be maintained,” Patterson said.

Also as of Aug. 10, Government of Nunavut offices will be open to the public.

Airline funding still up in the air

The GN is looking to the federal government to help keep the territory’s airlines running, Premier Joe Savikataaq said.

The GN has spent $24 million since March 30 to support Calm Air and Canadian North.

Savikataaq said he met with representatives from northern airlines last week, where it was agreed they would seek compensation from Transport Canada.

“We agreed that we’re going to try to join forces to come up with a compensation package,” Savikataaq said.

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“We’re waiting on the federal government because they said one is coming,” he added.

In April, the federal government gave northern airlines $5 million. But the airlines need more money to stay afloat, Savikataaq said.

“It has to be better than what we got last time,” Savikataaq said.

Also, following last week’s announcement of a second isolation hub in Winnipeg for medical travellers, Savikataaq said there is currently no waiting list to get into the Winnipeg hubs.

Previously, the wait for medical travellers to get into the isolation hub in Winnipeg was up to three weeks.

To date, the GN has spent about $21 million on isolation hubs, Savikataaq said.

But it’s difficult to tell how long the isolation hubs will stay in place, Patterson said.

“When we get the testing capacity in territory where we can get a reasonable turnaround time on all results, then we’ll be shifting towards isolation at home,” Patterson said.

Right now, the average turnaround time for COVID-19 tests in Nunavut is about seven days, Patterson said.

There will be no more weekly GN COVID-19 updates for the rest of August.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Elitism, folks… there’s no logical reason for an exemption here, only people who have the power to exempt themselves out of personal convenience. Absolutely disgraceful.

  2. Posted by Seasonal on

    Turnaround for baffinland workers is 6 hours. Then sent out for reconfirmation.

    Can’t we all just go to buddy’s cabin instead?

    Nunavut certainly has many different sized shoes!

  3. Posted by It’s quite clear what’s going on here… on

    The Leadership does not have confidence in the general public and believe them to be irresponsible to the extent that they would not successfully self-isolate. This speaks clearly to the caste system; the blatant disparity in social classes in NU. If you are an elected official, or politician of some sort, it means you most likely do not live in an overcrowded home. Nurses, RCMP, other designated essential workers, The Premier, politicians, and well nearly everyone except the average Inuk have special provisions in place to allow them thoroughfare. Anyone…? Or are they just giving themselves preferential treatment to feel superior..? I can’t see how an
    MLA – all of sudden – needs to be on the move while we are still under a state of emergency and the Legislative Sittings have been canceled/postponed. Pay cheque getting light without per diems?

  4. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    When I read this yesterday I thought that it was a situation where you’re damned if you do it, and damned if you don’t.
    If there is a meeting that you really should attend in the south, such as the Premier meeting with the Prime Minister, DPM, Minister of Health, etc. then you do need to go. But should you need to isolate for 14 days when you come back? Or do you just accept that you’re going to be limited to the phone for 14 days? Not very realistic if you’re supposed to be running the territory.
    Ideally there would be a rapid test that you could take in Nunavut where you could tell same day if you are positive. The GN (and the whole country) really needs to make progress on this as soon as possible.
    What would help (as usual) is complete transparency. Publish a weekly list of every MLA who uses this exception and the details, such as day they left Nunavut, meeting(s) attended, day they returned to Nunavut.
    This would make the MLA think twice about using this exception, and allow the public to make their own judgement. Now we all know that the MLA is going to be doing shopping when they are out, so let’s just accept that everyone does it, from regular employees to medical patients, to the Premier.

    • Posted by unbelievable on

      This is beyond unbelievable….& a total mockery of what we are trying to accomplish TO keeping Covid out of the territory. We are now the laughing stock of the whole country.

      Give your heads a shake, Have to go to a meeting ??? Don’t they get the Zoom concept ??

  5. Posted by Iqaluitmiut on

    Who wants to plan a protest? We must stop this from happening

  6. Posted by Where would they be going during a worldwide pandemic? on

    The face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past and for the most part stopped since March in most provinces due to Covid-19. If they have to travel to Ottawa to meet their federal counterparts, maybe they didn’t get the memo that virtual meetings are the new norm. Old Trapper is right, a weekly updated list with detailed information should be a requirement. Full transparency sounds very reasonable considering the amount of money the federal coffers are paying to keep Covid out of our territory and keeping the health and safety of Nunavimiuut at the forefront.

  7. Posted by Jon on

    Why do we inuks do nothing but complain. That’s all we’re great at. I would bet, of the people complaining, at least 60% of us complaining aren’t even well educated. Come on inuit, stop complaining and finally start giving credit to our leaders, think for a second, do you have the capacity to be a leader? If so, how would you feel if you constantly hear negativity about you and your status. Wake up and smarten up Inuit. Support rather than ranting away negatively.

  8. Posted by Name withheld on

    I don’t agree with the MLA’s and the MP being exempt from the isolation at all. Yes they are our leaders but they have the same exact health issues as any other Nunavumiut and shouldn’t be exempt from it especially isolation!!! Unless they charter their own plane and really live up to staying home when they get back to Nunavut for 14 days and make sure their spouse, children don’t go out either for that period of time, after all they are representing Nunavumiut right ?? They aren’t part of the marvel group where they can get sick anytime.. All it takes is one mistakes in touching something or etc

  9. Posted by Kavavow on

    The Government should seriously think about getting a Hub in Nunavut. I totally believe all the money could stay in Nun

  10. Posted by DO IT on

    If any MLA actually skip quarantine. I will spend money lots of it campaigning against you no matter what riding you are .

    • Posted by mla on

      me too. so will I.

      Qs. how is mla work more important than a janitor (especially with covid), etc?????

  11. Posted by Norhern Guy on

    As far as I am aware there are zero face to face Federal Provincial Territorial meetings taking place so where exactly would these MLAs be going? Just another example of the elites in Nunavut setting one rule for themselves and another for the rest of us!

  12. Posted by mla on

    mla work is important? they cannot meet but daycare opened up. let us note the important work they travel to. keep an eye. voters ask your mla for details.

  13. Posted by Jack Napier on

    The perks just get better and better.

  14. Posted by Sickening decision making on

    I had faith in the good doctor but this is totally unacceptable policy making as he is being another colonial decision maker now. Us older Inuit have been told countless times we are less then the colonial owners and have to accept less and they know what’s best for us. That we can’t be trusted to make our own judgements while they can. Joe Savikataaq, David Akeeagok, Jeanie Eehaloak, George Hicks, Lorne Kusugak, David Joanasie, Patik Netser and Elisapie Sheutiapik these are the people who are making us Nunavut citizens less then them. Let us remember to vote them all out next year!

  15. Posted by looking thru the old spy-glass on

    well whoop dee doo,if The Queen of England can keep follow the Rules set by Doctors how in the merry go round does a Regular Person no matter what role we do.can be above what the Queen is simply following? and consider making rash and foolish decisions once and for all.

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