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COVID-19 Developments in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut


by the McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

Northwest Territories

Public Health

  • On April 15, 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services extended the public health emergency to April 28, 2020. (More info)
  • On April 10, 2020, the Chief Public Health Officer issued two new Public Health Orders that ban all indoor gatherings, restrict outdoor gatherings, close certain businesses, and provide measures that mining and oil and gas industries must take to protect public health. These Orders are in addition to the Public Health Order issued on March 21, 2020, which closed the NWT border and requires self-isolation in certain cases. These Orders remain in effect until further notice.
  • Public Health Order – Prohibition of Gatherings and Closure of Certain Businesses
    • All indoor gatherings (both private and public) of any size are banned, except for:
      • People living in the same house;
      • Essential services work;
      • Retail businesses and their customers;
      • Offices, workplaces, and non-retail businesses that can use social distancing;
      • Daycare facilities, in-home childcare, and babysitters;
      • Persons providing necessary in-home care to other persons; and
      • Sobering centres and shelters.
    • Public gatherings outdoors are prohibited.
    • Private gatherings of more than 10 persons are banned. Gatherings of 10 or less persons are allowed with social distancing of two metre.
    • The following facilities and businesses must close:
      • Recreational facilities, such as arenas, pools, and gyms;
      • Community centres and youth centres;
      • Bottle depots;
      • Museums and art galleries;
      • Bars and night clubs;
      • Theaters and movie theaters;
      • Dine-in portions of restaurants. Take-out service is permitted with social distancing; and
      • Personal service establishments where social distancing is not possible, such as hair salons, spas, and massage therapists.
    • Essential retail stores can remain open, such as grocery stores, gas stations, banks, pharmacies, and liquor stores.
  • Public Health Order – Mineral and Petroleum Industry
    • Workers must:
      • complete 14 days of social distancing in accordance with guidelines prior to traveling to camp;
      • complete a health screening with temperature check and COVID-19 symptom inquiry prior to traveling to camp;
      • complete an additional health screening, including COVID-19 symptom inquiry, prior to the start of each shift;
      • comply with social distancing measures while on shift;
      • report symptoms and then self-isolate in a designated part of the workplace; and
      • comply with disinfection procedures.
    • Employers must:
      • complete a workplace risk assessment prior to permitting workers to travel to camp;
      • establish workplace social distancing protocols consistent with the risk assessment;
      • have at the workplace the minimum number of staff necessary to maintain operations;
      • notify the Chief Public Health Officer if any employees display symptoms;
      • establish disinfection procedures satisfactory to the Chief Public Health Officer for certain areas and facilities; and
      • cease operation of self-serve buffets and mess halls.
  • Public Health Order - Border Closure and Self-Isolation
    • 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.
    • NWT residents must 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.
    • Import/export, supply chain, and flight crew workers must 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 exhibits symptoms.
    • Essential services workers and their support staff must self-monitor and contact Public Health for directions.
    • 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. The first round of applications is closed.
  • 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. Documents can be dropped off for filing during certain hours.
  • 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.
    • The list of pending Court of Appeal cases will be called on May 8th. All parties must appear by telephone.
    • More details
  • 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 June 5th 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

  • The Minister of Health has extended the Public Health Emergency to April 16, 2020.
  • A Travel Restriction Order has been issued that:
    • Closes the Nunavut border to everyone except:
      • Nunavut residents with a letter of authorization from the Chief Public Health Officer;
      • Import/export and supply chain workers;
      • Flight crews;
      • Critical service workers and their support workers;
      • Indigenous people exercising hunting rights;
      • Transient workers traveling directly to camp and never entering communities; and
      • Medical travelers.
    • Requires anyone traveling into Nunavut to self-isolate for 14 days in either Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, or Yellowknife before boarding the plane. A clearance letter from the Chief Public Health Officer is required.
    • Requires import/export and supply chain workers to practice social distancing and self-monitor for symptoms.
    • Requires critical workers to self-monitor and undergo a risk assessment by a Medical Health Officer.
  • 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

  • All schools and daycares in Nunavut are closed. On April 21, 2020, a decision will be made as to whether school operations will resume.
  • 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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