New minister to head health department in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, cabinet’s newest member, assigned first role in shuffle. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)
The Northwest Territories cabinet’s newest member will have one of its biggest jobs, following a cabinet shuffle announced today in a press release from the office of the premier.

Julie Green, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, was acclaimed to replace outgoing infrastructure and industry minister Katrina Nokleby in a charged emergency session of the legislature last week.

Green will now head the Department of Health and Social Services, formerly led by Inuvik Boot Lake MLA and deputy premier Diane Thom. She also takes on responsibility for seniors and persons with disabilities.

The health department has been the subject of intense criticism going back years for its handling of child and family services.

The territory’s COVID-19 response, managed through a newly announced $67-million “co-ordinating secretariat,” will be the responsibility of Premier Caroline Cochrane, along with the portfolio of Executive and Indigenous Affairs.

Thom, a former land claim negotiator, takes over the Department of Infrastructure, which has been roundly criticized by Indigenous leadership for its handling of procurement in treaty territory. Thom will also take responsibility for the N.W.T. Power Corporation from Environment Minister Shane Thompson.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek, a lawyer, lost control of the Justice Department, which has been handed to Hay River North MLA and Education Minister R.J. Simpson.

In exchange, she will take on the portfolio of Industry, Tourism and Investment, charged with managing many of the ongoing COVID-19 economic recovery measures.

That department had temporarily been given to Thompson after Nokleby was unexpectedly stripped of her portfolios in late August.

Wawzonek remains as the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. Sahtu MLA Paulie Chinna, responsible for housing and Municipal and Community Affairs, will take over responsibility for the public utilities board, but her roles are otherwise unchanged.

This is the fourth time Cochrane has reassigned portfolios among her ministers in less than one year.

The premier and her ministers are scheduled to take questions from the press on Tuesday.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: MLA acclaimed to replace ousted minister in Canadian Northwest Territories, CBC News

Finland: Finland and Russia discuss cooperation between Arctic and Barents structures, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Greenland changes COVID-19 rules for travellers from Iceland, Faroe Islands, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland cancels largest Arctic conference due to COVID-19, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Washington pulls 700 US marines out of Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Kremlin-critic soldier tells his story about military service in Russia’s Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish military ramps up presence in Baltic Sea due to Russian activity, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, top official, Radio Canada International

John Last, CBC North

John Last, CBC North

John Last is a reporter for CBC North. Have a story idea? Send an email to john.last@cbc.ca.

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