A wellness walk in downtown Yellowknife during National Addictions Awareness week on November 23, 2020. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
The majority of a million-dollar addictions recovery and aftercare fund, devoted to helping NWT communities hire counsellors, has yet to be allocated.
Indigenous and community governments and non-profits are able to apply for the fund, which can award up to $95,000 to each applicant to help cover the cost of bringing on a counsellor and related programming.
Late last week, with National Addictions Awareness Week beginning, the NWT government issued a fresh call for applications before the current fund expires at the end of the financial year.
This is the fund’s second year in operation.
In December last year, health minister Julie Green said the first year of funding had proven “very popular” and 13 proposals had been received at the time. In year one, the program began with a total of $780,000 available and a maximum of $68,000 per applicant.
This winter, well over half of the fund remains unspent.
Of the $1,050,000 assigned to the fund, Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Jeremy Bird said by email on Friday last week, $658,893 remains available with around four and a half months in which to spend it.
Under the program’s rules, funding received must be spent before March 31, 2023.
The fund was introduced in a bid to improve the aftercare available to people across the NWT’s communities.
In the 18 months since it first rolled out, the territorial government has urged Indigenous and community governments to max out the funding – but concern has been raised that some may lack the capacity to go through the application process and manage the resulting position.