GNWT welcomes introduction of federal devolution legislation

Dec 3 2013

YELLOWKNIFE (December 3, 2013) — Premier Bob McLeod welcomed the introduction of Bill C-15 today, which includes legislative amendments needed to implement devolution. The Premier was in the House of Commons to witness the introduction of the bill by the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

“Devolution is an historic step in the political and economic development of the Northwest Territories,” said Premier McLeod. “It has been a long-term priority for the people and Legislative Assembly of the NWT and will help ensure NWT residents benefit from the responsible development of the North’s great resource potential. Devolution will help transform the Northwest Territories economy and create jobs and opportunities for our residents and all Canadians, especially if it is supported by an efficient and effective regulatory system that promotes investment while ensuring resource development occurs sustainably.”

“Our Government has made its northern strategy a priority and today’s historic tabling of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act is another example of our commitment to improving and devolving northern governance,” stated Minister Valcourt. “With this legislation we are giving Northerners greater control over their lands and resources, while unlocking the economic potential of the region and ensuring that the Northwest Territories remain an attractive place to live, work and invest.”

Bill C-15 amends federal legislation and creates a new Northwest Territories Act – legislative changes needed to implement the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement. The Devolution Agreement will transfer federal authorities for public land, water and resource management to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) on April 1, 2014.

To prepare for devolution, the GNWT will need to mirror about 27 federal acts and regulations governing public land, water and resource management in the NWT, converting them into territorial legislation.  Much of the GNWT’s legislative drafting work has been completed and three devolution-related bills have already received Second Reading in the Legislative Assembly. The remaining legislation will be introduced for debate and consideration by the Assembly in the 2014 Winter Session.

The GNWT is committed to a seamless transition of authorities and public service delivery for clients and the public. For more information about the devolution of land and resource management in the NWT, visit

For more information:

Petra White

Office of Devolution
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 873-7519

Backgrounder: Devolution-related legislative changes

The Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement was signed on June 25, 2013 by the Government of Canada, Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and five regional Aboriginal governments, including the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, NWT Métis Nation, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated and Tłįchǫ Government.

The Agreement will see authority over legislation, programs, policies and budgets related to public land, water and resource management in the territory transfer from Canada to the GNWT on April 1, 2014.

As a part of this process, about 27 federal acts and regulations are being mirrored by the GNWT and will become territorial legislation on the transfer date, including the
•    Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act
•    Canada Petroleum Resources Act
•    Northwest Territories Waters Act
•    Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act
•    Territorial Lands Act

•    Archaeological Sites regulations and Reindeer regulations under the Northwest Territories Act.

These are substantive pieces of legislation that will provide the GNWT with a suite of new authorities to manage public land, rights in respect of water, oil and gas activity, and mining activity in the territory.
At the time of this release, new territorial legislation for the Archaeological Sites Act, Surface Rights Board Act and Reindeer Act have undergone First and Second Reading in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. The remaining mirrored legislation will be introduced during the fifth sitting of the Assembly in February of 2014.

Mirroring the existing federal legislation is an important and practical first step. It ensures a smooth transition of authorities and public service delivery on the transfer date.  Once the transfer has taken place, the GNWT will have the authority to alter the legislation and related policies and programs to ensure they meet Northern needs and reflect Northern priorities.

Although the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) will remain federal legislation for the time being, the GNWT will take on greater authority under it as a result of devolution. After the transfer, a number of responsibilities and decision-making authorities formerly held by a federal Minister under the MVRMA will be exercised by a territorial Minister through delegated authority.  This will include the authority to approve Type A water licenses.

The GNWT considers delegated authority under the MVRMA to be an interim step, and has negotiated a requirement for a review of these provisions in the Devolution Agreement in five years. A new Intergovernmental Council on Land and Resource Management, established as a part of devolution, will  provide an opportunity for the GNWT and our partner Aboriginal governments to assess the regulatory changes being made by the federal government as they are implemented and prepare to participate in that review.

The Devolution Agreement promotes the self-sufficiency and prosperity of the NWT by providing its residents with a greater say in how land, water and resources are developed, and by ensuring a greater share of resource revenues generated from development stay in the NWT.

For more information about devolving legislation and authorities, or to view the NWT Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement, visit