Government of Canada provides disaster recovery funding to Northwest Territories

News release

September 11, 2023 - Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

The Government of Canada is providing financial assistance to the Northwest Territories (NWT) at this time of critical need. The NWT has experienced the worst wildfire season on record, leading to widespread evacuations, loss of personal property, and damage to critical infrastructure. This follows severe spring flooding that the NWT experienced in 2021 and 2022 causing significant damage to public infrastructure, private residences, and small businesses.

Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, announced the Government of Canada is expeditiously assessing the Territory’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) claim for the 2023 wildfires. Additionally, the federal government is releasing $15 million to the NWT through the DFAA program, to support the Territory and assist with recovery costs associated with the 2021 and 2022 spring floods. This is on top of two DFAA payments totalling $50,681,251 that were issued earlier this year for those events.

In addition, from August 12th until September 6th, Public Safety officials had been embedded with territorial officials on the ground, working collaboratively through this challenging time to support the NWT in its response and recovery. PS officials also continue to work closely alongside territorial officials in order to ensure that future DFAA support is provided as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The Government of Canada has, and continues to work closely with the Government of the NWT throughout this unprecedented wildfire season. 


“As the effects of climate change increase the frequency of disasters like the devastating wildfires and floods that we’ve seen the Northwest Territories, we are committed to supporting Canadians, and keeping them safe. Public Safety is working very closely and collaboratively with the NWT government to support the citizens of NWT. These payments will help support the NWT with their recovery and rebuilding efforts, as we work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Prioritizing our resiliency towards recurring disasters will help strengthen our adaptability and our ability to better recover.”

- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

“Climate change is bringing new challenges, from devastating floods to a now historic wildfire season. The federal government has been committed to a strong partnership with the Northwest Territories, and our priority remains to ensure communities are well equipped throughout the reconstruction process. Together, we will continue to work towards a more resilient and safe future for all communities.”

- Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the municipal level and if assistance is needed, they request it from their province or territory. If the emergency escalates further, provinces or territories can get help from the federal government.

  • In the event of a large-scale disaster, the Government of Canada provides financial assistance through the DFAA program to provinces and territories, at their request, for eligible disaster response and recovery expenses that have been submitted by the province or territory and that exceed what they could reasonably be expected to bear on their own. 

  • Federal government payments are calculated on a per capita basis and are cost-shared with the province or territory. The amount cost-shared is determined by an established formula of up to 90 percent of the costs of eligible expenses. 

  • Eligible expenses under the DFAA include, but are not limited to, evacuation operations, restoring public works and infrastructure to their pre-disaster condition, as well as restoration or replacement of individuals’ uninsurable principle dwellings, restoration of small businesses, and farmsteads and mitigation measures to reduce the future vulnerability of repaired or replaced infrastructure.

  • Provincial or territorial governments design, develop and deliver disaster financial assistance, deciding the amounts and types of assistance that will be provided to those who have experienced losses.

  • Under the DFAA, provinces and territories have six months following the end of a disaster event to request financial assistance from the federal government. Once an event has been designated under the DFAA, provinces and territories have up to five years to submit their final claim.

  • In the first 12 months following the end of an event, a province or territory may request in writing advance DFAA payments to address early requirements. These requests must contain supporting documentation, including actual interim expenditures and projected estimates, for review by the federal auditor. Based on this audit review, Public Safety Canada determines the total amount of the advance payments which should not exceed half of the projected federal cost-share.

  • As of September 11, 2023, there are 120 active fires in the Northwest Territories with 4,036,469 hectares burned, well above the seasonal average.

  • In 2021, the Northwest Territories experienced widespread flooding as a result of warm temperatures and annual ice break-up. The historic levels of flooding resulted in damage to public infrastructure, road closures, and significant damage to private properties. The Government of Canada provided an advanced payment of $6,240,647.

  • The 2022 spring flood has been noted as the worst flood in its recorded history in the Northwest Territories. It severely affected the Town of Hay River and the Hamlet of Enterprise, causing over 3000 evacuations, with close to 500 homes and over 70 small businesses sustaining damage or destruction beyond repair. The Government of Canada provided an advanced payment of $44,440,604.

  • On April 17, 2023, the Government of Canada published the advisory panel’s final report Building Forward Together: Toward a more resilient Canada, which provides recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness and long-term viability of the DFAA. The recommendations will help inform Canada’s renewed approach to disaster financial assistance to ensure it remains a sustainable source of support for provinces and territories. 

  • As outlined in Budget 2023, the Government of Canada is investing $48.1 million over five years, starting in 2023-24 to identify high-risk flood areas and implement a modernized DFAA program which would incentivize mitigation efforts.

Associated links


Joanna Kanga
Press Secretary
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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