Social Assistance Summaries

Northwest Territories
Last updated: June 2021

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.

For the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance, visit the Welfare in Canada report.

Program details

Social assistance is the income program of last resort. It is intended for those who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program(s) and no two are the same.

In the Northwest Territories, the Income Assistance Program provides financial assistance to residents to help meet basic living needs, such as food, shelter, and utilities. In combination with developmental opportunities, it aims to help recipients become self-reliant as individual capacity allows, to participate fully in community life, and to share in the opportunities available to them.

Alongside financial assistance for basic living needs, recipients may also qualify for enhanced benefits depending on their circumstances (such as clothing, educational assistance, child care, furniture, incidentals, and allowances for seniors and persons with a disability).


How many people claim social assistance?

On average, there were about 2,100 cases (families and single adults) in the Northwest Territories’ Income Assistance Program in 2019-20, and just over 3,200 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children). The number of cases and beneficiaries has increased for seven consecutive years.

Data notes

  • The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • Fiscal year averages prior to 2001 are not available due to changes in the gathering and reporting of case and beneficiary data.
  • These income assistance numbers only represent clients served by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment of the Government of Northwest Territories. First Nations on reserve are included in this data.
  • Click here for more information about how the data is gathered