Some residents of Ulukhaktok haven’t had access to the internet since February 24, community senior administrative officer Mike Rudkin says.
On Ulukhaktok’s eighth day without internet access, the major worry Rudkin has is residents running out of cash to buy supplies since debit machines and ATMs aren’t working.
This means hamlet stores have only been able to accept cash, something he says not everyone has on hand.
“That’s a problem because people can’t get cash, because all their money is in their bank account,” Rudkin said.
“Now, there’s a lot of people running out of food and who need the necessities for kids, like diapers and formula. They can’t get it because we don’t have cash money.”
According to a Facebook post earlier on Thursday afternoon, the Ulukhaktok Quick Stop has managed to get its debit machine working.
“In light of all the internet issues, our debit machine is working and so we are offering a 30% discount off all grocery items. 15% discount off everything else in the store,” the post states.
“We can also do cash back for you as well up to $60.00 per transaction with a set fee of $5.00.”
Rudkin says if a solution is not determined soon, council may have to come up with a creative solution – like having the hamlet cover groceries for residents until internet is restored and people can pay the money back.
In his 15 years in living in the North, Rudkin says he has never seen an outage last this long.
He says a plan is important to make sure people can get supplies if a similar situation occurs again.
“The store should have a contingency plan and the hamlet should work with them to get a plan in place, should this happen again,” he said.
Rudkin told Cabin Radio Northwestel technicians in the hamlet are still working to determine the issue.
A spokesperson from Northwestel confirmed to Cabin Radio a technical issue has caused “internet network congestion” in the community for the last eight days.
“During this time, data was still flowing in and out of the community and we did not fully realize the impact it was having on customers,” the company said in an email.
“We have taken steps to immediately improve Internet service in the community and we are now confirming with customers that they are able to access the Internet.”
Northwestel will be providing Ulukhaktok customers with a one-week credit on their next bill, and said those who continue to experience issues should contact customer service.