Those who drove out of the territory and found their own accommodations during evacuations of NWT communities will receive no financial help from the GNWT.
That was the message delivered by Jennifer Young, director of corporate affairs for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs during a press conference on Monday evening. When asked whether the territorial government would compensate people who drove out and secured their own living arrangements, Young indicated that those who did so would be expected to return on their own dime.
“If you self-evacuated on your own means, the expectation will be that you re-enter on your own means,” she said.
Those who left on evacuation flights out of the city would receive assistance coming back home once the evacuation order is lifted, Young explained.
For those who did drive out, she suggested that they contact their insurance providers and inquire about what sort of expenses could be covered.
That message didn’t go down very well with many people who commented on social media following the conference, such as Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby.
Nokleby took to Facebook to say that she was “extremely disappointed” that the GNWT won’t be reimbursing those who left via their own transportation.
“To encourage (basically order) people to go out on their own to save the flights for others, then turn around while people are struggling and say they will not be compensated, is a terrible bait-and-switch that is cruel and unfair to people in this situation,” she wrote.
Nokleby added that she intends to push for compensation of some kind.
One Yellowknife resident affected by this decision is Don Stewart. Stewart’s family ended up driving out of Yellowknife on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 16. They eventually ended up in Camrose, Alta., the following day after securing their own accommodations. Stewart flew into Edmonton and arrived in Camrose on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 17.
He said people who followed the rules and took it upon themselves to heed the warning from the territorial government did so with absolutely no idea where they were going or where they would be living.
“It’s rather disappointing that our government has no supports in place for us,” he said on Tuesday morning. “It seems like a lack of direction from all parties and agencies involved with misinformation or a lack of information being passed around.”