YELLOWKNIFE (MARCH 13, 2020) - The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly announced today that the winter sitting of the Legislative Assembly will recess on Monday, March 16th, 2020 to allow cabinet and the territorial public service to focus its efforts on preparing for and responding to the spread of COVID-19.
The Legislative Assembly was scheduled to recess for one week after today’s sitting day. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Frederick Blake Jr., in consultation with Cabinet and Members of the Legislative Assembly, today gave notice that he will recall the legislature for a one day sitting on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 10:00 AM. The purpose of this sitting day will be to consider and adopt an interim appropriation bill to approve ongoing government expenditures for the first three months of the 2020/21 fiscal year. Consideration of the full 2020/21 operations budget will resume when the Legislative Assembly reconvenes in May.
“Sessions of the Legislative Assembly require the support of substantial cabinet and public service resources,” noted Speaker Blake. “In suspending the remainder of the winter sitting we are freeing up these resources to focus on preparing for and responding to the potential spread of COVID-19 to the Northwest Territories.” Cabinet will continue to meet during the recess to provide political direction on the government’s response and maintain the continuity of government services. Members of the Legislative Assembly will return to their respective constituencies to provide local support and communications to residents.
Interim appropriation bills are not unusual in the fiscal year following an election. The Legislative Assembly is roughly half way through its department by department consideration of the 2020/21 budget. A number of large departments, including the departments of Health and Social Services, Infrastructure, and Industry, Tourism and Investment were scheduled to defend their budgets in the Assembly in the coming weeks. This work will now be deferred to the spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
The Speaker also announced the cancellation of the 2020 Youth Parliament, scheduled for the week of May 4-8, 2020 as well as a number of educational outreach activities. Public tours of the Legislative Assembly building have been suspended until further notice, however the building remains open to the public.
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