New COVID-19 secretariat role coming to the GNWT

(Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

In preparing for a second wave of COVID-19, the territorial government is creating a secretariat role within the department of Health and Social Services to respond to the pandemic.

The secretariat will work closely with Kami Kandola, chief public health officer, implementing, and enforcing the NWT Public Health Order.

For a more efficient response, the secretariat will operate under a single organization.

“The COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat pulls together COVID-19-related supports and resources from multiple departments,” says Premier Caroline Cochrane.

Cochrane admits that it was difficult to define who was accountable and that operations were “not very well coordinated.”

The secretariat will not be responsible for ensuring economic relief, says Cochrane.

As needs change, things might change, she adds.

The secretariat will be responsible for the enforcement team, purchasing protective equipment, border patrol, isolation units, and the Protect NWT  development plan moving forward.

Making the secretariat responsible for 150 working bodies.

“Worst case,” says Cochrane this investment could cost up to $86 million.

When asked how the territorial government can justify this spending, she says, “how much is a life worth?”

Cochrane says she is looking into getting more testing units to increase the response for residents isolating.

The new secretariat role will run for a two-year term.

With files from Francis Tessier-Burns.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108