N.W.T. gov't offers $5K for businesses affected by recent public health measures

The N.W.T. government is offering up to $5,000 for businesses in the territory impacted by recent COVID-19 public health measures to pay for ongoing operational costs.

Short-term funding meant to help cover ongoing operational costs

Caroline Wawzonek, minister of industry, tourism and investment, said the government's goal in announcing funding support for businesses is to provide quick access to cash so they can pay ongoing fixed cost while there are increased gathering restrictions. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

The N.W.T. government is offering up to $5,000 for businesses in the territory impacted by recent COVID-19 public health measures.

The short-term funding is available to any business impacted by gathering limitations "that have  experienced operating deficits since the outbreak in early August," the government said in a news release.

"Our goal is to provide, you know, quick access to cash and to be able to be flexible enough to to target whatever their needs are," said Caroline Wawzonek, minister of industry, tourism and investment and minister of finance, on CBC's The Trailbreaker Friday. 

She said the support is available to pay for any ongoing costs including, among other things, rent, mortgage, utilities and booking systems.

"Maybe you have a bill coming due to maintain your accounting system insurance. All of that's going to be eligible under this program," she said.

Gatherings restrictions

On Wednesday, N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola announced a public health order in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ would be extended for 10 days beginning Friday.

The extension includes increased restrictions on gatherings, limiting all non-essential businesses and organizations to fewer than 10 people inside. Exemptions to the previous order for non-essential businesses and organizations would no longer apply, Kandola said.

Kandola also extended containment orders for Behchokǫ̀ and Whatì, which also impose a limit on the number of people able to gather. Those orders have been extended until Oct. 7 and 9 respectively.

Containment orders were also issued this past August for communities in the Sahtu, while that region was experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

First-come, first-served basis

The government said the funding will be available through its Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program and that applicants will be considered on a first-come first-served basis.

Wawzonek added that the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment shifted $750,000 into the program to make the funding available.

The government said in a news release that the funding will remain in effect until March 31, 2022, as long as the public health measures are in place or until the money is spent. 

Wawzonek told CBC News the NWT Business Development Investment Corporation is also looking at what it can do to provide support for territorial businesses.

She said she expects an announcement in the next few days that won't be "quite at the $5000 mark, but near."

"So those two programs … are going to provide some cash for businesses in the next 10-day period."

With files from Joanne Stassen, Loren McGinnis