GNWT and Aurora College to transfer administration of Scientists Act

News Releases

Yellowknife — March 16, 2023

On April 1, 2023 the Scientific Services Office and employees will be transferred to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) from Aurora College. This transition ensures research licensing functions under the Scientists Act will continue to reside within the GNWT after Aurora College has fully transformed into an arm’s-length polytechnic university.

The Scientific Services Office licenses research in accordance with the NWT Scientists Act and promotes communication between researchers and the people of the communities in which they are conducting research.

This transfer of responsibility will not affect the application process. Research licence applicants can follow the same process as in past years. The GNWT is working to ensure there are no interruptions to the licensing process due to the transfer of responsibility. This includes ensuring that ethics reviews can still occur. Only projects with human subjects require an ethics review, and many applicants will have already completed this process with their home institution.

For more information on the transfer,
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“Moving the administration from Aurora College to Department of Education, Culture and Employment will ensure that the administration of the Scientists Act remains within the public service as we continue to progress towards transforming the Aurora College into a polytechnic university.”

- R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment


“It is important for the research licensing to be moved to the regulator as is the case in other jurisdictions. This work is being completed ahead of the transformation of Aurora College to a polytechnic university.”

- Dr. Glenda Vardy Dell, President, Aurora College


Quick facts

  • The Foundational Review of Aurora College recommended transferring the administration of the Scientists Act elsewhere within the GNWT as a part of the transformation process.
  • Representatives of Aurora College and Aurora Research Institute are currently performing the duties of the Commissioner under the Scientists Act, which includes research licensing. Before Aurora College becomes a polytechnic university, these functions will be transferred to the GNWT to keep them in the public service.
  • All research in the NWT requires a licence/permit from one of four agencies, depending on the type of research being conducted:
    • Archaeology research – Department of Education, Culture and Employment, GNWT;
    • Wildlife research - Department of Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT;
    • Ocean, fish and marine mammal research - Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
    • All other research in the NWT – Scientific Services Office, GNWT.

Related links

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Department of Education, Culture and Employment

Government of the Northwest Territories