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Lorne Kusugak named Nunavut health minister as premier shuffles cabinet

The premier of Nunavut shuffled his cabinet in an effort to 're-focus efforts and balance the urgent need to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Nunavut.'

Kusugak takes over health portfolio from George Hickes, who becomes justice minister

MLA Lorne Kusugak has been named minister of health for Nunavut and the minister responsible for seniors, effective Monday. (Beth Brown/CBC)

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq shuffled his cabinet Friday, giving MLA Lorne Kusugak the responsibility to lead the territory in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moves come a week after MLA Margaret Nakashuk was selected to join the executive council. She replaced MLA Patterk Netser, who was voted out of cabinet by his colleagues last month. 

The shuffle was also announced just before Nunavut confirmed its first case of COVID-19, in Sanikiluaq.

"The last full year of this Assembly is the ideal time to re-focus efforts and balance the urgent need to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Nunavut with our Turaaqtavut mandate goals," said Premier Savikataaq in a news release. 

Kusugak becomes the minister of health and the minister responsible for seniors, taking over those responsibilities from George Hickes, who remains minister of finance and adds the justice portfolio to his list of ministerial responsibilities.

Hickes said at a news conference Friday that Kusugak is very familiar with the COVID-19 file, having worked on it since the beginning of the pandemic in his previous role as minister of community and government services.

That department will now be headed by Jeannie Ehaloak while Deputy Premier David Akeeagok will take over Kusugak's former responsibilities as minister of human resources.

Nakashuk takes over the department of culture and heritage from David Joanasie who remains minister of education and becomes the minister responsible for the Nunavut Arctic College. 

Nakashuk and also becomes minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., taking that portfolio over from the premier.

The changes come into effect on Monday.

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