More money, easier access in ‘very simple’ new wildfire relief program, says premier

NWT Premier RJ Simpson in call with media Tuesday about start to wildfire season. (Still image via/Microsoft Teams.)

Last summer’s poorly received evacuee relief programs will be simplified and enhanced, Premier R.J. Simpson said today.

The new Emergency Evacuation Relief Program will provide a one-time payment of $800 for residents 18 years and older, and $400 for each dependent under the age of 18 per evacuation event.

“So last year, we had two programs that were rolled out to support evacuees …  they were developed quite quickly and, in the end, it turned out that they were difficult for some residents to apply for and to access and difficult to administer as well,” Premier Simpson told a media conference on Tuesday afternoon concerning the upcoming wildfire season.

“It was very labor intensive on the government side … we had dozens of staff actually redeployed to processing those applications. (The new program) is very simple. I expect later this week, perhaps early next week, the full program will roll out and that information will be publicly available.”

Last summer’s Evacuee Income Disruption Support Program offered a one-time $750 payment to any NWT resident aged 17 or over.

Initially, applicants could not have also received any financial support from their employer, but that stipulation was later dropped.

The Evacuee Travel Support Program offered a one-time payment of $750 per vehicle for residents who drove out of the territory by road, or $400 to those who evacuated elsewhere inside the territory.

Financial travel assistance was not offered to those who evacuated on commercial flights.

In February, GNWT launched a confidential survey to hear concerns on the application process, eligibility criteria, program rules and payment readiness.

Meanwhile yesterday, NWT Courts cancelled proceedings in Fort Liard on Wednesday and Thursday this week (May 15 and 16) and re-scheduled to July 17, at 11 a.m.

A warrant for arrest may be issued for any accused person who fails to attend. Witnesses will be contacted and advised of a new date to attend.

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: