Although the NWT legislative assembly approved an additional $75 million to combat wildfires on Monday, several regular MLAs insisted that more money is needed to help NWT evacuees.
Richard Edjericon, MLA for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, said he’s heard from displaced NWT residents in the south who have been unable to afford food.
“A lot of people have no money and they’re struggling… I know there’s people on the streets down in Edmonton, Calgary,” he said. “My phone’s been ringing day and night, dealing with all sorts of issues… we do need to help.”
Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson said residents of Hay River have had to evacuate multiple times this year and some are “financially exhausted.”
He proposed a minimum of $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per youth to support NWT evacuees.
Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland said she’s heard concerns from constituents who have had numerous out-of-pocket expenses and they were neither airline passengers nor driving their own vehicles to evacuate. Some were part of carpools, but still paid for many expenses, and aren’t eligible for the $750 one-time payment through the GNWT.
“I am very concerned about especially the residents from Hay River,” she said, adding that knows of others who are “bankrupting their businesses” to cover expenses.
Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge and Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos also spoke to the struggles faced by NWT evacuees and the need to provide more help. Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said he wants to see the amount raised to greater than $750 and broadened to cover more NWT residents.
However, the legislative assembly took no action on that front Monday because it was not part of the meeting’s agenda.