The Northwest Territories government says it is activating its disaster assistance policy to help residents whose property has been damaged by wildfires.
The policy is not new – it has appeared before during intense floods of recent years, allowing the territory to provide funding to individuals, businesses and community governments recovering from an emergency.
Ultimately, the territory then tries to get that money back from the federal government.
On Thursday, the NWT government announced the disaster assistance policy will now apply to eligible residents in Behchokǫ̀, Enterprise, Fort Smith, Hay River, Yellowknife Ndılǫ, Dettah, Jean Marie River, Kakisa, Wekweètı̀ and Sambaa K’e, and potentially also to the Ingraham Trail outside Yellowknife.
In environment and communities minister Shane Thompson’s definition, the policy “can provide financial assistance to NWT residents who have suffered damage as a result of this unprecedented wildfire season.”
The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs said the policy only applies to NWT residents whose primary residence, belongings or both have been damaged by a wildfire, and whose insurance does not cover the cost of restoring those essential items or that property.
You have until November 29, 2023 to file a claim related to wildfire damage from this summer.
If you’re a private homeowner, the damage must amount to more than $1,000. (Again, this is only damage you can’t cover through insurance.)
A small business can claim if the damage is valued at more than $5,000, the business is owner-operated and has no more than the equivalent of 20 full-time employees, and its annual revenue is between $10,000 and $2 million.
A community government can claim if the damage caused is valued at more than five percent of the community’s operations and maintenance budget, averaged over three years.
The territory’s disaster assistance policy had a recent overhaul after being rolled out to address damage caused by flooding in Hay River and Fort Simpson. Thompson earlier said the policy had been reviewed for the first time in 26 years, and the cap on the amount private homeowners can claim was increased from $100,000 to $240,000.
Wildfires across the territory have already caused significant damage in some communities this summer. That damage currently includes: