GNWT Provides Funding for Low Wage Workers

News Releases

Yellowknife — May 12, 2020

Today, Minister of Finance Caroline Wawzonek announced that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) will allocate up to $6.2 million to temporarily top up wages for workers making less than $18 per hour.

Under this program, businesses are asked to apply for temporary funding to increase the wages of their employees who make less than $18 per hour, for a maximum of 16 weeks between April 1 and July 31, 2020. The program is available to all workers in the NWT that are currently earning less than $18 per hour and are over 15 years old.

The federal government has contributed $4.74 million for the NWT Wage Top-up Program, which is intended to assist all lower-wage workers working to keep the economy running while physical distancing measures are in place.

Businesses can start applying immediately for funding to top up employees’ wages from April to $18/hour. While the intent of the program is to help employees, we are asking businesses to partner with us to deliver the program, as the funding will flow through the employer. With that in mind, employees are encouraged to make sure that their employer is aware of the program and notify them if not.


“The NWT Wage Top-up Program provides a thank you in the form of a financial boost to our lower paid workers who are continuing to help sustain the NWT economy while the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic continues. I call on all NWT businesses with employees to participate, and thank them in advance for helping to make this program successful.

All residents and families are struggling in some way during this pandemic. My hope is that these measures will offer some relief, and a well-deserved ‘thank-you’, to those among us who need and deserve it most. 

We will continue to monitor the economic impact of COVID-19 and introduce further supports for NWT residents and businesses to help support and re-build the NWT economy.”

-Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance


” There are many lower-wage workers who must still work outside the home during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide essential services that our residents and communities rely on. The NWT Wage-top up program is a way to give back to those workers who have continued to provide essential services to our residents. I want to thank each of you for helping us get through these unprecedented and challenging times.”
-R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

 Quick facts:

·       The wage top-up is a taxable benefit for employees.

·       Businesses will receive a one-time payment from the GNWT to cover the administrative costs of adjusting their employees’ wages and the employer CPP and EI contributions for the top-up portion of the employee’s wages.

·       Businesses will be asked to complete an application, providing eligible employee hours and wages. Once applications are approved, the GNWT will issue monthly payments to employers to cover the cost of the top-up, for a maximum of 16 weeks.






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Government of the Northwest Territories