Yellowknife at -40C on a Wednesday morning in December 2020. Photo: Shaun Moose Morris
For the second winter running, the NWT government has bumped up the home heating subsidy paid to seniors, saying the subsidy must increase because of the rising cost of living.
Until this winter, the subsidy had been an annual lump-sum payment. Last winter, the GNWT boosted that payment by $400 to $800, depending on the community in which an applicant lived.
This winter, under a new system of monthly payments, the GNWT will top up the subsidy each month by $65 to $175, again depending on the community.
Seniors in the Beaufort Delta, Sahtu and Wekweètì will receive the largest subsidies. Those in Yellowknife, Behchokǫ̀, Fort Simpson and the South Slave will receive the smallest subsidies, with other communities receiving a sum in between.
The monthly system runs for eight months from September to April, meaning this winter’s subsidies will, over time, amount to a larger top-up than was offered last year.
Subsidies only apply to seniors receiving less than a certain annual income: $56,000 per year in Yellowknife, for example, or $73,000 in Aklavik.
If you have already applied for this winter’s subsidy, you don’t need to apply again. The extra cash is automatically sent to the heating supplier associated with your application, the GNWT stated on its website.
Both this year’s extra payments and last year’s extra payment were billed by the GNWT as one-time increases. On each occasion, minister responsible RJ Simpson was quoted as saying that the top-ups would “assist seniors in heating their homes for the upcoming winter to help offset the cost of living while supporting the GNWT’s mandate commitment to enable seniors to age in place with dignity.”
The cost of fuel oil and other fuels in Yellowknife rose by an extraordinary 53.4 percent between August 2021 and August 2022, the NWT Bureau of Statistics reported last year. The cost has risen by a further 7.3 percent in the past year, the bureau stated on Tuesday this week.
Overall, inflation in the city reached 6.7 percent between August 2021 and August 2022, and 3.7 percent from August 2022 to August 2023. Values for smaller NWT communities were not available.