A file photo of Shane Thompson in October 2019. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The NWT government on Wednesday gave a name to the new department being created in a planned April merger: the Department of Environment and Climate Change.
The name showed up in documents for the territorial government’s 2023-24 budget, which was published on the same day. The title mirrors a federal department of the same name.
To create the department, the GNWT is merging the Department of Lands and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They share the same minister, Shane Thompson, who is also the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.
Devolution spurred the Department of Lands’ creation in 2014 to assume administration of public land from the federal government. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources was created in 2005 when the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development was split into two (the other offshoot being Industry, Tourism and Investment).
Thompson, in a statement last year, said merging two of his departments “supports the evolution of the work being done in this area and will improve program and service delivery, ultimately benefiting NWT residents.”
Terence Courtoreille, deputy secretary to the GNWT’s financial management board, said on Wednesday that the budgets for Lands and ENR had been merged for the purposes of the 2023-24 budget but the process of identifying savings from that merger was not yet reflected in the territory’s finances.
“Over the next two years, the new department is going to be undertaking an internal review to see where efficiencies exist and where they can achieve some of those savings,” Courtoreille said.
Bill Mackay, the NWT’s deputy minister of finance, said some duplicate positions would ultimately be eliminated but employees would be reassigned elsewhere.
“There’ll be redundancies because each department, obviously, has the same positions that maybe they don’t need two of,” Mackay said. “But we have enough vacancies within the government to accommodate those.”