GN boosts disaster support for hunters

Maximum payout raised to $10,000 for lost equipment



Nunavut’s hunters will get more support if a freak storm rears up and swamps their boats this summer.

During the last sitting of the legislature in June, Patterk Netser, minister of the environment, announced a boost to the government’s disaster compensation program.

The maximum claim amount is now $10,000, up from $4,500.

The program offers grants to hunters for lost equipment, playing a role similar to vehicle insurance — something that many hunters don’t have.

“I think, in many cases, the hunters don’t have the organization, or the finances (for insurance),” said Steve Pinksen, the department of environment’s director of policy planning and legislation.

And insuring a snowmobile in one of the territory’s more remote communities, such as Grise Fiord, isn’t as easy as doing it in Iqaluit, Pinksen added.

To be eligible, applicants must earn about 25 per cent of their income from hunting or a similar activity, Pinksen said.

Unlike vehicle insurance, equipment is only covered under the disaster compensation program if it’s lost because of a natural disaster — not an error in judgment.

For example, if a hunter leaves on his boat, in good weather and after checking the forecast, yet still loses his vessel in an unexpected storm, he could make a claim.

But if a hunter rides his snowmobile over ice he believes is thick enough to support his machine, and it isn’t, causing his vehicle to go crashing through, that’s an error in judgment.

Yet confusion continues over the role of the disaster support program, according to a review of harvester support programs in Nunavut, commissioned by the GN’s department of environment and NTI and tabled in the legislature March 2006.

The report found that “community awareness and understanding of harvester support programs is low, especially in the case of the GN’s disaster compensation program.”

Most claims made under the program involved mistakes of judgment, not natural disasters, the report said.

The report also says that hunters in some communities don’t know what programs and funding are available to them, due to poor promotion.

Each year the number of applicants range from “a small handful” to “several dozen,” Pinksen said. The government sets aside $80,000 each year for the program.

As well, the report points out that both NTI and the GN offer similar hunter support programs.

“Each of us have programs that pretty much do the same thing,” Pinksen said.

To fix this, the report suggests the GN and NTI streamline their hunter support programs, creating a one-stop shop for hunters.

Suggestions for how to streamline the programs will be made by the GN this fall, Pinksen said.

For more information on the program, hunters can visit their local wildlife office.

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