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NWT to fill key roles in languages, human rights, and privacy


The Northwest Territories is recruiting to fill three of its most important oversight positions, responsible for ensuring residents’ human rights, privacy, and languages are protected.

The hiring process for the three roles is overseen by the Legislative Assembly, which is taking applications to become the next information and privacy commissioner, executive director of the NWT Human Rights Commission, or official languages commissioner.

Applications must be received by 5pm on July 31, 2020.

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Elaine Keenan Bengts, the current information and privacy commissioner, will retire at the end of her term in October.

Keenan Bengts is responsible for overseeing how public bodies like the NWT government respond to requests for access to information, and how privacy is handled under such legislation as the Health Information Act.

Her office looks into complaints related to government mishandling of information or privacy breaches.

New legislation set to come into force this fall will allow the new commissioner to make orders instructing governments to hand over information, whereas Keenan Bengts has until now been limited to issuing recommendations with no binding force.

She has in the past suggested her office is under-staffed for the burden of handling responsibility for oversight of information and privacy in the territory. Reviews of complaints are published on the office’s website once or twice a year.

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The executive director of the NWT Human Rights Commission looks after the complaints process where NWT residents feel there has been a breach of human rights under territorial legislation.

Eligible candidates include “Canadian residents with knowledge of or experience in a northern
cultural setting [and] experience and an interest in, and a sensitivity to, human rights,” the legislature stated.

The languages commissioner oversees government compliance with the requirements of the Official Languages Act, which recognizes 11 languages in the territory.

The commissioner can investigate alleged violations of the act and make recommendations to government.

“Preference will be given to candidates who wish to locate the Office of the Languages Commissioner outside of Yellowknife but within the Northwest Territories and who have the ability to speak an official language other than English,” the legislature stated.

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