NWT woman flushes sewage out of her tub every year and doesn’t know where to turn for help


Every winter for the past five years, Mildred Lockhart, a resident of Łutselk’e, Northwest Territories, has found sewage backing up in her bathtub.

“This year I had to bail out about 16 buckets of [sewage],” she says.

The problem usually begins around December and persists until the weather begins to warm up in March.

She says it has to do with old pipes freezing and although the group has hired someone to thaw the sewage, the problem persists year after year.

After seeing a poster at Łutselk’e Airport for Housing NWT’s emergency repair program, Lockhart applied for territorial funding.

He was told the application was denied because the owner’s salary was too high to qualify for the program’s $60,000 income cap.

The house is owned by Lockhart’s father and funding is based on his salary.

Meanwhile, Lockhart said “every payday I probably have about $50 to $100, that’s it, once I finish paying my bills.”

Lockhart is unable to transfer his father’s house to his own name due to unpaid arrears.

MP Richard Edjericon said it was an example of excessive barriers and red tape excluding many of those who need help to get it.

MP Richard Edjericon said Lockhart’s situation is an example of excessive barriers and red tape excluding many of those who need help to get it. (Legislative Assembly)

Edjericon highlighted Lockhart’s sewage issue in the Legislature on March 10.

“You have to have heart”

Addressing his comments to the finance minister, he said “the hurdle here is your policies that prohibit our people from getting help.”

Edjericon told CBC News that the Lockhart case is an example of this, but housing issues persist across the territory and NWT Housing is allowing them to continue by denying applications for funding.

He pointed to the housing dollars allocated to the territory in the last federal budget and wondered what that money is for, if not to help residents in need.

“At the end of the day, people in communities need help, whether it’s in our riding or across the Northwest Territories,” Edjericon said. “We have to have a heart.

Housing NWT said that for privacy reasons it could not comment on individual applications, but the criteria for their programs is to target “those most in need”.

Spokesman Ben Fraser also said Housing NWT was reviewing its programs.

Lockhart has found sewage backed up in his tub every year for the past five years. (submitted by Mildred Lockhart)

In an email, Fraser wrote that the renewal work will look at how the ministry considers “needs” and “whether the programs we deliver are in fact helping those who need our help the most.”

He said the work would proceed with input from the Council of Leaders Housing Task Force as well as “internal and external stakeholders”.

Fraser added that program counselors are available to meet with homeowners to discuss their situation and the options that may be available to them.

He provided contact information for the North Slave District Office at (867) 767-9332, ext. 85121.

Lockhart said she met with a representative from NWT Housing in May.

While unsure of her position, Lockhart describes the representative peering through the crawl space of her father’s house.

She said the man told her he suspected one of the pipes had punctured the floor joists.

He told Lockhart to apply and that “it shouldn’t be a problem, you should be approved,” Lockhart said, describing their conversation – although it’s unclear if the NWT Housing representative knew that his father owned the house.

She said housing is the most pressing issue in the community and she is tired of government commitments not being met.

Lockhart said she wrote a letter to the band office to resolve the issue or to help identify next steps.

“All these promises they make to us and nothing has been done.”


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