Minister of Education, Culture and Employment announces Income Assistance Exemptions for Residents and Students

News Releases

Yellowknife — May 6, 2020

Today, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), R.J. Simpson announced the exemption of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) for Income Assistance (IA) clients. These benefits would normally be counted as unearned income and would affect a client’s IA benefit amount.

The IA program provides financial assistance to residents, aged 19 years or older, to assist with their basic and enhanced needs.  These needs include the actual costs associated with shelter and utilities, as well as set amounts for food, clothing and additional allowances for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.  Food and clothing amounts are based on family size and the location of community.

The CERB payment, which is available to Canadians who have earned a minimum of $5,000 through employment over the last 12 months and who have lost income due to COVID-19,  provides $2,000 per month up to four months to eligible residents. The CESB payment provides $1,250 per month to eligible postsecondary students who are not eligible for the CERB. Eligible students include those in existing programs, recent graduates, and those registered for a postsecondary program in fall 2020.  For disabled students or students with dependents, the CESB provides $2,000 per month. These benefits are available from May through August 2020.

This latest announcement is in addition to the changes made to the program in March to support the Northwest Territories’ most vulnerable residents.



“While we have continued to support the most vulnerable residents in the territory with flexible changes and advice during these difficult times, we have further opportunities to leverage the federal government benefits, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done. With many people out of work and students that have few prospects for summer employment, there are unique challenges facing families and individuals. Any assistance we can provide to help reduce some of the stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is an action we will swiftly take.”

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


“I thank Minister Simpson and his government for their leadership in deciding to exempt Canada Emergency Response Benefit payments for income assistance clients. This will ensure that some of our most vulnerable Canadians, including persons with disabilities, receive the supports they need during this pandemic. The response to this pandemic has been a Team Canada effort, and today’s announcement illustrates how collaboration helps protect the well-being and safety of Canadians.”
- Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Government of Canada


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.
  • All Client Services Officers continue to serve Income Assistance clients, seniors, persons with disabilities, and students.
  • Exempting the federal benefits is an addition to the number of flexible changes made through Income Security Programs to support NWT residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Income Assistance Clients applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are encouraged to review eligibility requirements here.
  • The Canada Emergency Student Benefit is available to postsecondary students from May through August 2020.
  • Both the CERB and the CESB are taxable benefits.

Related Links:

·       Information on the Canada Emergency Student Benefit


Media contact:

Cabinet Communications