“I want to confirm that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is not advancing any initiatives that would see the introduction of a territorial sales tax,” finance minister Caroline Wawzonek said in a press release on Friday.

The statement came just a day after local media reported there would be debate by MLA’s in the Legislature on whether or not a sales tax would be introduced.

The release added that some MLA’s had brought forward the idea, in order to generate more revenue, after public feedback sessions on this year’s GNWT budget.

“Growing the private sector economy is a key priority for this government, which would not be consistent with the introduction of a sales tax at this time,” added Wawzonek in the release.

In an email, Renee Comeau, executive director of the NWT Chamber of Commerce said, “We understand that the GNWT is in a very difficult position in trying to find new revenue streams during a global pandemic.”

That being said the consideration of a sales tax or the possible increase of the small business tax during this extremely difficult time for businesses will not assist the business community in recovery.” 

“These are items that will have negative effects on all residents, not just the business community.”

Wawzonek also did not rule out a sales tax at some point in the future, saying, “the GNWT will continue to examine its revenue and spending options to ensure that we are achieving value for money while continuing to deliver important programs and services to all residents of the Northwest Territories.”

Premier Caroline Cochrane’s government has already taken other revenue-raising measures.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported the NWT government had for the first time issued bonds – a way to secure funding for the government’s operations by allowing investors to purchase bonds – in the Canadian public debt market.

The bonds, worth $180 million, are reportedly due in September 2051.