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N.W.T. premier announces cabinet shuffle, picks new minister to head health department

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, cabinet’s newest member, will take on the government’s most daunting department.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, cabinet’s newest member, assigned first role in shuffle

The new portfolios were announced in a press release from the premier's office Friday. It's the fourth time duties have been reassigned in Cochrane's cabinet in less than one year. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The N.W.T. cabinet's newest member will have one of its biggest jobs, following a cabinet shuffle announced today in a press release from the office of the premier.

Julie Green, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, was acclaimed to replace outgoing infrastructure and industry minister Katrina Nokleby in a charged emergency session of the legislature last week.

Green will now head the Department of Health and Social Services, formerly led by Inuvik Boot Lake MLA and deputy premier Diane Thom. She also takes on responsibility for seniors and persons with disabilities.

The health department has been the subject of intense criticism going back years for its handling of child and family services.

The territory's COVID-19 response, managed through a newly announced $87-million "co-ordinating secretariat," will be the responsibility of Premier Caroline Cochrane, along with the portfolio of Executive and Indigenous Affairs.

Thom, a former land claim negotiator, takes over the Department of Infrastructure, which has been roundly criticized by Indigenous leadership for its handling of procurement in treaty territory. Thom will also take responsibility for the N.W.T. Power Corporation from Environment Minister Shane Thompson.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek, a lawyer, lost control of the Justice Department, which has been handed to Hay River North MLA and Education Minister R.J. Simpson.

In exchange, she will take on the portfolio of Industry, Tourism and Investment, charged with managing many of the ongoing COVID-19 economic recovery measures.

That department had temporarily been given to Thompson after Nokleby was unexpectedly stripped of her portfolios in late August.

Wawzonek remains as the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. Sahtu MLA Paulie Chinna, responsible for housing and Municipal and Community Affairs, will take over responsibility for the public utilities board, but her roles are otherwise unchanged.

This is the fourth time Cochrane has reassigned portfolios among her ministers in less than one year.

The premier and her ministers are scheduled to take questions from the press on Tuesday.

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