FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Belliveau, Executive Director Northwest Territories & Nunavut Construction Association
COVID-19 and GNWT Capital Infrastructure Projects
Yellowknife, NT – March 31, 2020 – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, non-residents are not allowed to enter the Northwest Territories, and residents returning to the territory must self-isolate and stay at home for 14 days in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith before moving on to any smaller communities. Some groups are exempt from these requirements, including persons involved in working on the construction of GNWT capital infrastructure projects.
The Northwest Territories & Nunavut Construction Association has heard from our members that this exemption is overbroad and unnecessarily risks spreading COVID-19 in small NWT communities. Workers from outside the territory can travel directly into small communities to work on any GNWT capital project, without a self-isolation period and without an explanation provided for why a given project has been deemed essential.
We are currently polling our members to gather more information on this issue, and we are requesting that the GNWT immediately:
1. Specify which GNWT capital projects are actually essential and must proceed without delay;
2. Clarify how losses caused by COVD-19 related delays and project disruptions will be treated under the provisions of existing GNWT construction contracts; and
3. Consult with community governments and elders before requiring companies to send workers into those communities.
By deeming all GNWT capital projects essential, the GNWT is forcing companies to move projects forward and put communities at risk, or bear the losses of shutting down the project at their own choosing. We are advised that communities have refused to let workers enter out of fear that COVID-19 will spread to elders and other residents. Companies completing projects in NWT communities expected more support from their Government.