Fort Simpson has been added to the list of NWT communities seasonally eligible for Nutrition North, the federal program that subsidizes costs of food and essential items.
Access will be activated when the Dehcho community, much of which sits on an island, is inaccessible during spring and fall periods when neither the winter road nor MV Lafferty ferry can be used.
Food prices in Fort Simpson can substantially increase during break-up and freeze-up. Even at other times of the year, deliveries can be disrupted by maximum weight limits on the ice road or the sudden closure of the ferry, meaning food must be flown in at extra cost.
The village applied for access to Nutrition North last year after five other NWT communities were added on a similar seasonal basis. However, councillors were told a decision would arrive only after September 2021’s federal election.
“This will help to keep essential food supplies more affordable, not only for all Fort Simpson/Líídlįį Kúę residents but also for the surrounding communities that utilize Fort Simpson for their shopping needs,” Mayor Sean Whelly is quoted as saying in a Tuesday news release.
Nutrition North support will now apply during the forthcoming spring thaw. Subsidies are provided by the program to retailers, who are asked to pass the savings on in full to customers.
More than 100 communities in Canada use Nutrition North, 20 of them in the Northwest Territories.
In addition to isolation, a community must meet four other eligibility requirements to qualify, including a lack of access to year-round ground transportation but the presence of either an airport, post office, or grocery store.