GNWT announces an extension to Income Assistance COVID-19 Relief Measures

Yellowknife — July 22, 2020
News Releases

Today the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), R.J. Simpson, announced the extension of all Income Assistance (IA) COVID-19 relief measures currently in place.

Under Income Security Programs, the IA program at the Department of Education, Culture and Employment provides financial assistance to residents, including seniors and persons with disabilities, aged 19 years or older, to assist with their basic and enhanced needs. 

In March 2020, the IA program modified its suite of benefits to assist the Northwest Territories’ most vulnerable families and individuals. As the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) continued to monitor actions from jurisdictions across Canada, the decision was made to further support the territory’s most vulnerable residents by exempting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the calculation of IA benefits.

All IA COVID-19 relief measures will continue to be in place until the end of September 2020, and will be reviewed again at that time.

This includes:

  • Exempted the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).
  • “Payrolled” all clients so that they do not have to report each month; ensuring they receive their payments consistently, and avoids in-person reporting.
  • Directed that all clients will engage in only one Productive Choice: taking care of themselves and their families. They are not required to report on this productive choice.
  • Exempted monetary donations from being counted as income in their IA benefits, as of April 2020. These may be in the form of gifts from friends, family, benevolent organizations or Indigenous governments.

Quote

“Over the last several months we have made numerous changes to provide further support to the people of the north during these rapidly changing times. I am pleased to announce that we are not only making sure these changes continue, we are enhancing them to better serve our residents.  The last thing we want to do is add any additional stress as residents they keep their families safe and navigate the challenges of this pandemic.”

 - R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

 

Quick facts

  • On March 23, all GNWT buildings were closed, and essential employees continued to work with clients and the public by phone and email.
  • To date, the Income Assistance Program has:

§  Provided a one-time emergency allowance for IA clients registered in March to help them with a 14-day supply of food and cleaning products as the stores have them available. Individuals received $500 and families received $1,000.

§  Directed that all clients will engage in only one Productive Choice: taking care of themselves and their families. They are not required to report on this productive choice.

§  Streamlined administrative processes so Client Services Officers (CSOs) can focus on working with clients.

§  Exempted monetary donations from being counted as income in their IA benefits, as of April 2020. These may be in the form of gifts from friends, family, benevolent organizations or Indigenous governments.

§  “Payrolled” all clients so that they do not have to report each month; ensuring they receive their payments consistently, and avoids in-person reporting.

§  Modified the intake approach for new clients. Clients have been working with CSOs over the phone or by appointment as necessary, requiring minimal verification to ensure they are registered as quickly as possible. They have been automatically assessed for both basic needs and enhanced benefits.

§  Exempted the one-time Special Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit for low and modest income residents.

§  Exempted the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). Informed IA clients through handouts, radio ads, and in-person meetings that both the CERB and the CESB are taxable benefits.

§  Exempted the one-time Special Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments.

§  Exempted the one-time Special Payment for certified holders of the Disability Tax Credit.

 

Related links

 

For Media Requests, please contact:

Melissa Bannister
Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories
melissa_bannister@gov.nt.ca