NWT says CERB, CESB are exempted from income assistance

RJ Simpson speaks to the assembly in October 2019.
RJ Simpson speaks at the NWT legislature in October 2019.

Federal Covid-19 benefits received by NWT residents and students won’t affect income assistance payments, the territorial government announced on Wednesday.

In response to the pandemic, the federal government created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) for Canadians who lost work and income as a result of Covid-19.

Benefits like these would normally count as unearned income and could affect the amount NWT clients receive in income assistance.

However, the territorial government said CERB and CESB won’t be considered unearned income.



“With many people out of work and students that have few prospects for summer employment, there are unique challenges facing families and individuals,” employment minister RJ Simpson said in a news release.

“Any assistance we can provide to help reduce some of the stresses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is an action we will swiftly take.”

The announcement means people receiving income assistance can receive federal benefits without any unexpected reduction in territorial support.

Post-secondary students who are unable to find summer employment can also apply for both CESB and income assistance.

Income assistance is used to help cover costs of living like shelter, utilities, and food.

Government service centres are closed for the time being, but residents and students can contact regional service centres online or by phone for more information.