CBC: COVID-19 closures having bigger impact on most vulnerable, says women’s society head

Yellowknife Women’s Society executive director Bree Denning says that it’s important to keep the most vulnerable in mind when issuing guidelines for social isolation, or ordering closures of facilities or services during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

While many residents across the Northwest Territories are self-isolating and stocking up on supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic, the executive director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society says the territory’s most vulnerable are facing a far different set of challenges.

“I think a lot of the recommendations that have come out have come from people who are concerned about the pandemic, and rightly so, but they’re not necessarily aware of a lot of the other risk factors that people face,” Bree Denning said.

That includes addictions, and food and housing insecurity for those living paycheque to paycheque.

Denning said closures of community facilities like the Yellowknife Public Library and the shuttering of some social programming are having an outsized impact on her clients.

She said there are also less obvious ripple effects, such as the potential closure of liquor stores leaving those addicted to alcohol at risk of withdrawal impacts like seizures.

Those trying to maintain sobriety being hit the hardest, Denning says

A big part of sobriety is about being part of a fellowship, accessing AA meetings, counselling, and on-the-land programming, Denning added.

“We’re definitely weighing the risks between social distancing and infection,” she said. “I see it affecting people who are trying to maintain their sobriety the hardest.”

“It’s easy in self-isolation to get bored, or to get anxious, and many of us turn to alcohol to deal with that.”

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders or funders.

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