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COVID-19 Developments in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut


By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

Northwest Territories

Public Health

  • On March 21, 2020, the Chief Public Health Officer issued a Public Health Order that:
    • Closes the NWT border and prohibits everyone from entering the territory, except the following, among others:
      • NWT residents returning home;
      • Workers importing/exporting goods or providing supply chain services;
      • Flight crews;
      • Essential services workers or supporting workers;
      • Medical travelers from Nunavut;
      • Transient workers in the mineral and petroleum resources industry; and
      • Workers involved in government capital infrastructure projects;
    • Requires NWT residents to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the NWT in either Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, or Fort Smith. A self-isolation plan must be completed and approved by a Public Health Officer;
    • Requires import/export, supply chain, and flight crew workers to self-monitor and abide by social distancing guidelines established by the Chief Public Health Officer. These workers must immediately self-isolate and contact a Public Health Officer if they exhibit symptoms; and
    • Requires essential services workers and their support staff to self-monitor and contact Public Health for directions.
  • The Public Health Order remains in effect until further notice.
  • More details on border closure
  • More details for travelers
  • More details on worker exemptions

Government Support for Businesses

  • The Business Development and Investment Corporation (“BDIC”) is offering qualified small businesses in the NWT with loans up to $25,000 (or more) at a rate of 1.75%. Loans will be amortized for up to five years with options for payment deferment.
  • Current clients of BDIC may apply for reduced or deferred payments of up to three months without penalty or additional interest.
  • More details


  • The Government of the Northwest Territories (“GNWT”) has asked the majority of its employees to work from home beginning on March 19, 2020.
  • Essential government operations and services to residents will continue.
  • Many GNWT offices and facilities are closed, but online services are available. A full list of closures and affected services is available here.
  • Land Titles Office, Corporate Registries, and Personal Property Registry are only available online until further notice.
  • More details

Schools and Childcare

  • All schools in the Northwest Territories will be closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 academic year. (More details)
  • Early learning and childcare programs will remain open, where possible. (More details)


  • Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories
    • Sittings scheduled for April 21st will proceed by telephone or in writing only.
  • Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories
    • Regular Civil Chambers will proceed by way of teleconference only until further notice.
    • Special Civil Chambers scheduled between now and May 1st that do not have testimony may proceed by telephone.
    • All case management conferences will proceed by teleconference until further notice.
    • All matters will proceed in Courtroom 201. Members of the public are not permitted to attend court until further notice.
    • The Registry remains open for filing of documents.
    • More details
  • Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories
    • All lawyers are to be appear by telephone only until further notice.
    • All civil proceedings outside Yellowknife are cancelled until June 1st. Matters will be automatically rescheduled.
    • All civil proceedings in Yellowknife will be automatically adjourned to the first Monday at 9:30 a.m. that follows a 12-week period from the previously scheduled court date.
    • Only urgent interlocutory matters may proceed before June 1st.
    • All civil mediations scheduled prior to June 1st will be rescheduled after May 31st, unless parties wish to proceed by way of teleconference.
    • All matters will proceed in Courtroom 202. Members of the public are not permitted to attend court until further notice.
    • The Registry remains open for filing of documents.
    • More details


Public Health

  • A public health emergency has been declared.
  • Only Nunavut residents and critical workers will be allowed into the territory.
  • Anyone traveling into Nunavut must self-isolate for 14 days in either Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, or Yellowknife before boarding the plane.
  • Critical workers require written permission from the Chief Public Health Officer before flying into the territory.
  • Critical workers traveling from international locations or high-risk areas are not allowed in Nunavut.
  • More details

Government Support for Businesses


  • All non-essential GN personnel will work from home.
  • Residents should call and make appointments for services before attending in-person.
  • Labour Standards Office is available to provide services.
  • More details

Schools and Daycares

  • Schools and daycares in Nunavut will be closed for three weeks beginning on March 17, 2020.
  • More details


  • Nunavut Court of Justice
    • Regular operations have been suspended, including satellite court operations. The suspension will remain in effect until further notice.
    • All civil matters have been adjourned sine die. After June 1, 2020, counsel will be asked to address all suspended civil matters.
    • Emergency matters will proceed by telephone only.
    • The Registry remains open for the filing of electronic documents only.
    • The Courthouse in Iqaluit is closed to the public.
    • More details
  • Nunavut Sheriff’s Office
    • The Nunavut Sheriff’s Office will be suspending all document service (current and new) for the time being.
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