Two major departments are changing hands in an N.W.T. cabinet shuffle that takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday.
Range Lake MLA Caroline Cochrane will add the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to her portfolio, which already made her the minister responsible for the N.W.T. Housing Corporation, the Status of Women and Addressing Homelessness.
Cochrane is no longer responsible for the Department of Public Works and Services — that goes to Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann, who will also take over the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment — formerly under Premier Bob McLeod.
Schumann will remain Minister of Transportation, but will pass over the reins of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Robert C. McLeod.
Robert C. McLeod, who formerly led MACA and Lands, will also take over Human Resources from Health Minister Glen Abernethy. He'll remain as Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance.
Abernethy will hold on to his Health and Social Services portfolio, and his responsibilities for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. He remains Government House Leader, and takes on the new responsibilities of minister responsible for the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission and for the Public Utilities' Board.
Thebacha MLA Louis Sebert takes over Lands, while holding on to his role as Minister of Justice and Minister Responsible for Public Engagement and Transparency.
Sharing the load
"Basically, we have a lot of work to do," said Bob McLeod in a press briefing. "We wanted to make sure we balanced out the workload so that we can accomplish all of the priorities and objectives that we've set for ourselves as a government."
As to why he's stepping away from Industry, Tourism and Investment, McLeod said he encountered conflicts with meetings and travel, and that shedding the role will allow him to focus on his work as premier.
McLeod said the new cabinet will be looking at "potential restructuring options" as the government continues to seek ways to operate with less money.
Merging departments "to save money" is a possibility, but "nobody's decided anything" so far, he said, refusing to confirm what options are on the table.
In a news release, McLeod also noted that Jeff Anderson is retiring as president of the N.W.T. Housing Corporation, thanking him for more than 30 years of service.
Anderson will be replaced by Tom Williams, currently deputy minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.