Lands and ENR are no more, replaced by GNWT’s new ECC
The merger of two NWT government departments is complete. From April onward, the Department of Environment and Climate Change is a thing.
The new department – ECC for short, one C away from its federal equivalent, Environment and Climate Change Canada – replaces Lands and Environment and Natural Resources.
So far, the merger has cost no jobs and resulted in barely any reorganization. The territorial government says the bulk of the work “optimizing the organization to improve programs and services” will take another year.
Terence Courtoreille, deputy secretary to the GNWT’s financial management board, said in February that the budgets for Lands and ENR had been merged without much amendment for 2023-24.
“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.
That means ECC isn’t likely to start doing anything significantly different for a while.
A letter signed by Premier Caroline Cochrane, setting out the new department’s mandate, does not stray markedly from the kind of mandate Lands or ENR previously had.
ECC and its minister, Shane Thompson, must “manage land, water, air, wildlife, and forests, and lead and coordinate the Government of the Northwest Territories in understanding and adapting to a changing climate,” that letter states.
“This includes promoting, planning, and supporting the wise and sustainable use of natural resources, and protecting, restoring, and stewarding the environment for the social and economic benefit of all Northwest Territories residents, while maintaining ecosystem health.”
ECC replaces a Lands department created as a byproduct of devolution in 2014, while ENR was born when a larger department was split into two – the other half forming Industry, Tourism and Investment – in 2005.
ENR’s Erin Kelly becomes ECC’s deputy minister. The final deputy minister of Lands in the department’s short history, Jamie Koe, was “no longer employed by the Government of the Northwest Territories” according to a GNWT statement on March 21. The territory said it would not comment further.
Thompson – who was minister of both previous departments and still leads the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs – said in a statement: “In collaboration with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations and other partners, ECC will continue to be stewards and managers of the environment, including air, land, water and wildlife, and committed leaders in climate action for the Northwest Territories.”