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NWT seeks feedback on vital statistics and name change laws

The Legislative Assembly of The Northwest Territories on Frame Lake in Yellowknife at golden hour. Jaahnlieb/Dreamstime
The Legislative Assembly of The Northwest Territories on Frame Lake in Yellowknife at golden hour. Jaahnlieb/Dreamstime

The NWT government is seeking feedback on law changes that would allow residents more options related to the way their gender is recorded, among other amendments.

Proposed changes to the Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act will “ensure services remain consistent with the Human Rights Act and make them more inclusive,” the territory stated on Thursday.

One change corrects existing legislation, the territory said, to ensure people aged 16 to 18 have the legal right to apply to change their gender on their birth registration and certificate.

Previously, a discussion paper on the topic states, changes made in territorial regulations were “legally insufficient” for that to be the case.



The territory proposes allowing residents to remove the gender field on their birth certificate and also adds a change-of-gender certificate for NWT residents who were born outside the territory.

Other changes would try to stop companies overcharging NWT residents for obtaining certain certificates by requiring that a third party has known the resident for a year before allowing them to acquire certificates on the resident’s behalf.

“Online companies doing this for a fee are charging $70 each certificate versus $22 in the fee schedule in the regulations if the person applies directly,” the territory’s discussion paper states.

Among other changes being proposed:

  • nurse practitioners would be allowed to certify deaths, which currently nurses may do but nurse practitioners may not;
  • up to four parents could be registered at someone’s birth, allowing for scenarios involving, for example, donors, surrogates or polyamorous families;
  • births outside health centres or hospitals, where no healthcare worker is present, would need some form of evidence to prevent fraud, a change that closes what the territory called a “gap in the legislation;”
  • anyone aged 12 or over would need to submit fingerprints and a criminal record check with a name change request “to prevent criminals from hiding with a new name” (sex offenders and other serious offenders will be barred from changing their name); and
  • a spouse could revert to their birth name at any time, without a divorce or the death of their partner occurring first, as is currently required.

The territory says it will receive feedback by email until October 3, 2022. Read more on the GNWT’s website.