Smoke rolling in over Yellowknife on the afternoon of August 29, 2023. Danny/Risk Control
The GNWT has changed the criteria for its evacuee income disruption support program. Now, all residents whose employment income decreased as a result of the evacuation orders can apply.
Previously, applicants had to declare they had “lost their employment income and have received no financial assistance from their employer,” meaning anyone whose employer had helped them out even a little was ineligible to apply.
This left some small business owners in a tough place – if they couldn’t afford to pay their employees full wages but wanted to still give them some help, they would be taking away the $750 payment opportunity from their employees.
The territorial government said it had received a request that led officials to reconsider their approach last week, leading to the eligibility change.
Under the reworded clause, only people whose income has not changed are now ineligible.
“If any applicant has missed out on any income they would regularly receive we ask that they please apply,” wrote Drew Robertson, a ministerial special advisor for the finance department.
Applicants must also be 17 years or older and have their employment disrupted by an evacuation lasting more than seven days to be eligible for the funding.
The change marks the latest time the GNWT has updated criteria for an evacuee funding program. On Wednesday, the territory changed a checkbox for its travel funding application to clarify – while further complicating – who is eligible for that credit.
Also this week, the territorial government walked back a promise to give Fort Smith evacuees two travel payments for going through two evacuations.