Nunavut has canceled its spring legislative sitting due to COVID-19 concerns

Speaker Paul Quassa said he believes the fall session will proceed as scheduled.

By Meagan Deuling, Nunatsiaq News - May 6, 2020
The spring sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly has been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

The spring sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly has been cancelled to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Speaker Paul Quassa announced today.

“Recognizing that all Nunavut organizations and residents are currently being asked to limit their travel and refrain from large gatherings, the most prudent course of action for our institution at this time is to defer its next sitting,” Quassa said in a news release on Friday, May 1.

The sitting was scheduled to run from May 26 to June 4.

Quassa said that he’s confident the fall sitting will go ahead as scheduled, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5. But he said that the legislature is prepared to call ministers and regular MLAs to the house in September to “consider proposed supplementary appropriation bills and other urgent business arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The announcement came a day after a person in Pond Inlet tested positive for COVID-19, the first in Nunavut to do so. That case was eventually determined by territorial health officials to be a false positive, and Nunavut remains free from confirmed cases for now.

A week prior to this, the clerk of the legislative assembly was in the house, using a measuring stick to prepare for a socially distanced sitting.

Quassa said in the release that members and MLAs will “remain engaged with their portfolios and constituency responsibilities.”

Furthermore, Quassa said that the byelections scheduled to take place on August 24 in Baker Lake and Kugluktuk will go ahead as planned.

The Baker Lake byelection is to fill the seat vacated in February by Simeon Mikkungwak, who served as Baker Lake’s MLA and as Speaker of the house.

The Kugluktuk byelection is to fill the seat vacated by Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak at the beginning of April.