An update from Jennifer Henshaw, Vice-President Prairies & the North, Restaurants Canada
Restaurants Canada has continued to monitor the extremely challenging and heartbreaking wildfire situation in the Northwest Territories. Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Minister Shane Thompson has declared a Territorial State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act to allow the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to acquire and deploy the necessary resources to support the management of this unprecedented wildfire season, and protect the health and safety of Northwest Territories residents. We wanted to provide you with the most up-to-date information on the NWT wildfire resources and supports:
- Qualifying businesses affected by the fire can access operational support under the GNWT’s SEED policy to provide emergency relief or support business recovery.
- Prior to filling out an application, businesses should contact their Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s Regional Office.
- NOTE: ITI is working to amend the SEED program to provide a wildfire specific program that will provide some added financial support to business owners. The updated policy is currently being drafted so as to be ready for announcement as quickly as possible.
Evacuee Income Disruption Support Program
- The Evacuee Income Disruption Support program assists individuals who have lost employment income due to extended evacuation periods. The Evacuee Income Disruption Support program aims to provide one-time targeted financial relief during evacuations. Its goal is to ease the financial burdens faced by evacuees who have suffered a loss of employment income. Download the application here.
- Provides financial support to adults 17+ whose employment has been disrupted by an evacuation lasting more than seven days.
- Eligible residents can receive a one-time payment of $750.
- For more information on how to apply, email: EIDS@gov.nt.ca
According to the Government of the Northwest Territories, there will be financial support for those who used the government’s evacuation flights when they return home. We are awaiting additional details on how to apply.
NWT’s finance minister has also advised that more financial supports are coming for evacuees who organized their own travel, accommodation or both: The department is “running options” like providing free gas to get people home when evacuations end, but she stressed that was just one example and was not yet confirmed. Restaurants Canada will provide any updates on this relief measure as they are available.
Driver and vehicle services for wildfire evacuees
Residents can get a 90-day extension for General Identification Cards, driver’s licences and vehicle registrations that have expired or will expire while they are out of the territory due to wildfire evacuation.
Evacuees who have expired or lost General Identification Cards or driver’s licences, or who have an expired vehicle registration, can contact the Registrar of Motor Vehicles at DVLicensing@gov.nt.ca.
The NWT Power Corporation (NTPC) – which is the power distributor in some evacuated communities, though not Yellowknife, Hay River, Kakisa or Enterprise – stated in an email that it “recognizes the financial challenges facing customers who have been evacuated from their communities.”
The utility said penalties for late payments will be suspended while evacuation orders remain in place.
Automatic bill payments will continue to be processed for residents in evacuated communities, the corporation said, as they “reflect past electricity consumption.”
NTPC said it continues to provide power in Fort Smith and Jean Marie River, keeping fridges and freezers cold while people are away from home. It noted people will require “considerably less” electricity than normal during this time, which will be reflected in their next bill.
Northland Utilities said in a statement that automatic payments will not be processed for customers in impacted communities until evacuation orders are lifted. Late fees will also be waived until September 30.
“Northland Utilities understands that this has been a difficult time for NWT residents,” the statement from manager Vic Barr reads. “Once evacuation orders are lifted, we will give residents some time to return to their communities and get settled before billing resumes.”
You can find more information on Northland Utilities’ webpage dedicated to NWT wildfires.
The City of Yellowknife says it will be all waiving late fees and penalties for utility bill payments until further notice. For more information on the city’s online access and services, it says to check out their virtual town hall.
The Town of Fort Smith says they are suspending utility fees for all customers for August, September and October. Utility billing will resume on November 1.
Northwestel said in a press release on Tuesday that home and small business customers from evacuated communities will receive a credit on their bill for the period of the evacuation order.
Residents in the Beaufort Delta, where telecoms services have been slower than normal due to a fault in the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line, will continue to receive a credit of 50 percent until service is fully restored.
DoorDash offers grants of up to $10,000 to restaurants affected by natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. Learn more and apply below: