'We are not only making sure these changes continue, we are enhancing them to better serve our residents'
Northwest Territories is extending all Income Assistance (IA) COVID-19 relief measures currently in place until the end of September 2020, when it will be reviewed once again.
The extension applies to:
- exempting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) from IA benefits
- putting all clients in “payroll” so that they do not have to report each month and ensuring they receive their payments consistently
- directing that all clients engage in only one Productive Choice: taking care of themselves and their families
- exempting monetary donations from being counted as income in their IA benefits, as of April 2020, including gifts from friends, family, benevolent organizations or Indigenous governments
“Over the last several months we have made numerous changes to provide further support to the people of the north during these rapidly changing times. I am pleased to announce that we are not only making sure these changes continue, we are enhancing them to better serve our residents,” said R.J. Simpson, minister of education, culture and employment. “The last thing we want to do is add any additional stress as residents keep their families safe and navigate the challenges of this pandemic.”
Under Income Security Programs, the IA program provides financial assistance to residents, including seniors and persons with disabilities, aged 19 years or older, to assist with their basic and enhanced needs.
In March 2020, the IA program modified its suite of benefits to assist the Northwest Territories’ most vulnerable families and individuals.
On March 23, all GNWT buildings were closed, and essential employees continued to work with clients and the public by phone and email, according to the government.
To date, the IA program has:
- provided a one-time emergency allowance of $500 per individual and $1,000 per family IA clients registered in March to help them with a 14-day supply of food and cleaning products as the stores have them available
- exempted the one-time Special Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit for low- and modest-income residents
- exempted the one-time Special Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments
- exempted the one-time Special Payment for certified holders of the Disability Tax Credit.
In May, Northwest Territories allocated up to $6.2 million to the NWT Wage Top-up Program to temporarily top up wages for workers making less than $18 per hour.
In April, it started accepting funding applications from local businesses and artists interested in manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as other non-medical products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.