Nunavut nudges out-of-territory workers to get vaccinated

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Nunavut's chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said starting Nov. 1, out-of-territory workers who are not fully vaccinated will only have two ways to get an exemption from isolating for two weeks before traveling north: a medical exemption from a doctor, or a role in helping to fix 'sudden and severe damage to critical infrastructure.' (Jacqueline McKay/CBC - image credit)
Nunavut's chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said starting Nov. 1, out-of-territory workers who are not fully vaccinated will only have two ways to get an exemption from isolating for two weeks before traveling north: a medical exemption from a doctor, or a role in helping to fix 'sudden and severe damage to critical infrastructure.' (Jacqueline McKay/CBC - image credit)

Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people from outside Nunavut who travel to the territory to work will no longer be exempted from isolating, the government of Nunavut said Monday.

Commonly referred to as out-of-territory workers, the government said in a news release that beginning Nov. 1, it will only grant exemptions for those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated to isolate in an out-of-territory isolation location under two conditions: if there is "sudden and severe damage to critical infrastructure," or if a worker has a medical exemption to get a vaccine from their doctor.

"Minimizing the number of unvaccinated workers traveling to the territory on exemptions will help reduce the risks of COVID-19 coming to Nunavut," said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, in a news release.

Fully vaccinated out-of-territory workers can apply for an exemption by completing a declaration form and emailing it to vaccineexemptions@gov.nu.ca. The government said these workers will have to provide proof of vaccination along with their form, and should allow two weeks for a response.

All other out-of-territory workers will have to isolate for 14 days at a Government of Nunavut isolation location outside the territory before going to Nunavut.

Few details on out-of-territory workforce

Infrastructure and resource projects in remote worksites in Canada's North, including Nunavut, depend heavily on labour from workers who are flown in from the South.

Data on the size of that labour force is not easily available, according to CBC's reporting in March of this year.

In that story, Barbara Neis, a sociologist at Memorial University, said the three territories also rely on southern workers for everything from health care and food services to transportation.

Neis said her 2016 data shows that more than one in five workers in public administration in Nunavut listed their residence outside the territory.

According to the government of Nunavut's website, there are three active COVID-19 cases in the territory on Monday, all of them in Kinngait.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 663 cases in the territory. Of those, 656 have recovered and four people have died.

The government added there is no change to the exemption process for those travelling for compassionate reasons.

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