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More support coming for NWT businesses, federal minister says

Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal in Cabin Radio's Studio One on January 14, 2020
Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal in Cabin Radio's Studio One on January 14, 2020. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio

Canada’s northern affairs minister has pledged more financial support for Northwest Territories businesses affected by this summer’s wildfires and evacuation orders.

NWT MP Michael McLeod pressed Dan Vandal in the House of Commons on Tuesday about the federal government’s plan to support businesses that had to close their doors for weeks because of evacuation orders.

McLeod said while $28.8 million the federal government had committed to help the territory respond to its wildfire crisis was “very much appreciated,” more support was needed for the business sector.

Vandal responded that he could “guarantee” more funding was on its way.

“As northerners know, small businesses are the backbone of the economy,” the minister said.



Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson has said funding is needed to help businesses in her community, which has faced two wildfire-related evacuation orders this summer. Jameson said current financial supports announced by the NWT government do not account for the level of disruption the town’s businesses faced.

Yellowknife’s chamber of commerce has said businesses in the city are struggling following a three-week evacuation order amid ongoing work to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the NWT’s Business Development and Investment Corporation launched a new grant program – dubbed Wildfire Assistance and Relief Measures, or Warm – for businesses affected by wildfire evacuations. Eligible businesses in evacuated communities, like Hay River and Yellowknife, can apply for up to $5,000.

The NWT government also expanded its Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development policy, known as Seed, allowing up to $5,000 to “offset operational costs incurred by wildfire-affected businesses.”