Northwest Territories grants $ 1.6 million for COVID-19 commercial loans, but rejects nearly a third of applicants

The Northwest Territories COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program made 61 loans worth $ 1.6 million in its first wave, but rejected nearly a third of the requests it he received.

Of the 84 applicants for the territory’s loan program announced last month, 23 applicants were turned down. The programs are designed to complement federal assistance programs for businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 23 applicants who failed had poor credit, did not have a valid tourism license, or were unable to demonstrate that they needed the loan, said Drew Williams, spokesperson for the Department of Tourism. industry, tourism and investment of the territory.

Here’s a look at the numbers:

(Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment)

Payments for successful applicants begin this week, Williams said.

In the meantime, the 82 loan deferral requests to the territory’s Enterprise Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) have been approved. The next deadline to apply for this program is April 24.

Industry Minister Katrina Nokleby and Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek announced the Loan and Deferral program last month, as part of the government’s first wave of economic aid amid COVID-19.

Since, the territory’s total aid amounts to $ 21.5 million, mainly in the form of fee exemptions and deferred loan repayments.

Business uptake of the loan program has been weaker than expected and a second round of loans will begin shortly, possibly with expanded criteria to allow more businesses to qualify, the minister said on Tuesday. Industry Nokleby in an interview, citing the relaxation of residence restrictions as an example. .

“As long as we still have funds available, we will continue to distribute them. This is the next step,” Nokleby said.

WATCH | Ministers announce NWT’s first COVID-19 relief program

But the rejections appear to contradict those claims, and what Wawzonek said last month at the press conference announcing the funds.

“Our aim is not to be restrictive, so that people who need money can access it in any way possible,” Wawzonek said on March 20.

“The idea is not to be particularly strict or to have people go out and get a whole bunch of documents to be eligible,” she said.

“We want to be able to help, be responsive and not be too picky about it.”

Nokleby responded to this on Tuesday – that she didn’t have enough information to talk about the releases in detail, but BDIC staff tried to accommodate as many companies as possible.

She said there is an appeal process available for rejected applicants.

“If someone thought he hadn’t been assessed properly, he would definitely have a way to challenge it,” Nokleby said. “We are open to working with companies who felt they should not have been turned down.”

The territory’s financial assistance is in addition to existing federal programs, including a $ 130 million program for the North announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On Monday, the federal government also released details of its Northern Business Assistance Fund, which promises eligible northern businesses non-repayable grants between $ 2,500 and $ 100,000.

The subsidies are intended for small and medium-sized enterprises which have difficulty in keeping afloat, priority being given to enterprises with less than 20 employees. The money can be used for fixed costs, like rent, mortgage, utilities, and insurance – some of the top areas that business owners reported as needing help.

More details on how to apply are posted on the CanNor website.

Nokleby is encouraging business owners in the territory to apply for this money and hopes it will fill the gaps that currently exist in federal and territorial aid programs. She added that she was in talks with federal ministers about future aid programs as the pandemic continues.

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