Schumann changes jobs

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann is now responsible for three departments of the GNWT following a cabinet shuffle on Sept. 2.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann is now responsible for three departments of the GNWT following a cabinet shuffle on Sept. 2.

Wally Schumann now has more responsibilities with the GNWT.

In a cabinet shuffle announced by Premier Bob McLeod on Sept. 2, Schumann was named the minister for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) and the Department of Public Works and Services. In addition, the Hay River South MLA continues as minister of Transportation.

“When it rolled out, I was very honoured to be selected to have those three portfolios on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories,” he said, calling them significant departments. “I look at them as some of the files that kind of drive some of the economy and infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. So it’s going to be a big undertaking and I’m going to have to put a lot of hard work into trying to make all three successful.”

His former duties as minister of Environment and Natural Resources have been moved to Robert C. McLeod.

Cabinet assignments are at the discretion of the premier.

In a telephone news conference on Sept. 2, Premier McLeod said the cabinet changes were made to prepare for the start of the budgeting process for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“Basically, we have a lot of work to do and we have a very good cabinet, very strong ministers, and I wanted to make sure that we balanced out the workload so that we accomplish all of the priorities and objectives that we’ve set for ourselves as a government,” he said. “So this was a good time to announce those changes.”

A budget will be presented and approved in February and March.

McLeod said all the ministers have performed very well.

The premier said the timing of the shuffle – less than a year after the territorial election – is not unusual.

McLeod called it normal to review the workload and make adjustments after a government’s first budget to ensure everybody carries their fair share of the work.

The premier had held the portfolio of Industry, Tourism and Investment before it was transferred to Schumann.

“It was quite a workload for myself as premier to also handle ITI,” said the premier. “There was a lot of conflicting meetings and travel, and this way I feel that it will allow me to focus totally on the work of the premier that’s important to promote the territory, look for investment and work with all our partners, specifically the government of Canada.”

The other changes in the shuffle are:

  • Along with the Department Environment and Natural Resources, Robert C. McLeod assumes responsibility for the Department of Human Resources. He continues as deputy premier and minister of Finance.

  • Glen Abernethy assumes responsibility for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission and for the Public Utilities Board. He continues as minister of Health and Social Services, minister responsible for seniors, minister responsible for persons with disabilities, and government house leader.

  • Caroline Cochrane assumes responsibility for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. She continues as minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, minister responsible for the status of women and minister responsible for addressing homelessness.

  • Louis Sebert assumes responsibility for the Department of Lands. He continues as minister of Justice and minister responsible for public engagement and transparency.

Premier McLeod retains his responsibilities as minister of the Executive, and minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Relations.

Alfred Moses continues as minister of Education, Culture and Employment, and minister responsible for youth.

The premier also announced Jeff Anderson is retiring as president of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Tom Williams, currently deputy minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, will replace Anderson.

With a clear mandate to guide us and preparations underway for the second year of our term, including consideration of potential restructuring options, today’s changes will help position cabinet to deliver on its commitments and fulfill the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly,” McLeod stated in a news release announcing all the changes.
The premier was asked to explain the mention of potential restructuring options.

“As a government, we are always looking to be more efficient and effective, and if we see opportunities where we can restructure ourselves so that we can become more efficient and save money at the same time, we are prepared to do that,” he said. “We are looking at some options that we’ll take forward to discuss with our MLA colleagues in the legislative assembly as part of the budgeting process.”

While nothing has been decided, McLeod said one of the changes being looked at is possibly merging Transportation with Public Works and Services.

In addition, he said savings will be explored through administrative services, aboriginal affairs and human resources.

McLeod said, if there are any changes, it is expected that most or all of the workers who might be impacted would find other jobs in the government.

–Paul Bickford