Yukon MP Larry Bagnell makes an announcement at city hall in Whitehorse on July 8, 2019. The federal government announced $129.9 million in funding for northern Canada on April 14 to help with health care, airlines and businesses. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Federal government announces $130 million for territories in COVID-19 funding

Yukon to receive funding for healthcare and airlines

The federal government has announced just under $130 million for northern Canada to help with health care, airlines and businesses.

The funding was announced April 14, with $129.9 million to be split between the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. According to a government release, $72.6 million will be going towards healthcare and $17.3 will go towards airlines.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) will be providing $15 million for northern businesses.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell spoke with the News on April 14 to go over the details of this funding.

He said the Yukon’s share of the health funding is $18.4 million, and that the Yukon government could use this money in its healthcare measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nunavut will receive $30.8 million and the Northwest Territories will receive $23.4 million.

Yukon airlines will get $3.6 million. These funds are given to the Yukon government to ensure supplies and critical routes are maintained.

The Northwest Territories will receive $8.7 million and Nunavut will receive $5 million.

As for the CanNor funds, he said that these funds would be split between the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut evenly. This money will be used to help people that were not covered through other COVID-19 relief programs.

The goal is to support people who may have fallen through the cracks on other programs.

“This is to cover people complementary to other programs,” Bagnell said.

He said CanNor has been working closely with the territories, First Nations and other northern partners to assess needs.

CanNor estimated that this would save between several hundreds of small to medium businesses.

“This is to strategically help them out with pragmatic and systematic gaps,” Bagnell said.

Bagnell said there has been some changes to existing relief programs and discussions are ongoing about other potential adjustments.

He mentioned that the federal government has amended the previously-announced wage subsidy for businesses. Originally, a business would have needed a reported loss of 30 per cent revenue this March compared to March 2019. He pointed out that a lot of businesses might not have been affected until past mid-March, rendering them ineligible.

The government threshold was lowered to 15 per cent nationally, something Bagnell said would be a huge help to the territory.

Bagnell said Ottawa is considering modifying the criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to cover people with a limited income. Currently, to qualify the individual must have no income.

He next referenced the $40,000 small business loan. To be eligible for this a company needs to have at least $50,000 in payroll, which Bagnell said this might not work for Yukon businesses. He has been encouraging the federal government to change this.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

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