Prices at a grocery store in Tuktoyaktuk in June 2021. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The federal government says it will cover some NWT and Nunavut businesses’ increased shipping costs incurred because of wildfires and evacuation orders.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada said its Nutrition North subsidy program would cover cost increases in communities where air service was disrupted. The CBC first reported Nutrition North’s involvement.
NWT communities included are Colville Lake, Délı̨nę, Fort Good Hope, Gamètì, Łútsël K’é, Norman Wells, Tulita, Ulukhaktok, Wekweètì and Whatì. In Nunavut, Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk will receive extra support.
The precise terms of Nutrition North’s support were not clear. The federal department estimates additional costs it will cover came to approximately $150,000 a week.
With Yellowknife under an evacuation order, operations at the airport vastly scaled down, and airlines pulling out of the city for safety reasons, meant regular cargo flights from the territorial capital to smaller communities came to an abrupt halt.
Instead, air deliveries of essential goods came from Edmonton, if at all, and arrived at a significantly higher cost.
Some NWT communities and businesses – like Gamètì, Wekweètì and the Łútsël K’é Co-op – said they struggled to keep store shelves stocked and worried about the added shipping costs during Yellowknife’s three-week evacuation.
The federal government said it was working with affected registered northern businesses to temporarily cover the shipping costs of high and medium Nutrition North-subsidized products.
The department said it would retroactively send payments to cover the increased costs initially paid by retailers.