The Devolution Agreement-in-Principle

In 2011, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), Government of Canada, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) and Northwest Territory Métis Nation (NWTMN) signed the NWT Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement-in-Principle (AiP) and began negotiations for a final agreement. In 2012, the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated (SSI) and Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) added their signatures to the AiP, and in 2013, the Tlicho Government also signed. To date, the Akaitcho Territory Government and Deh Cho First Nations are not direct participants in the process, but they may sign the final Agreement when they are ready.

The AiP outlined broad financial terms and other arrangements that the signatories had agreed upon so far. AiPs are important steps in the negotiations process and help to ensure discussions continue to move forward. The Devolution AiP is not a legally binding agreement but indicated the honourable intentions of the signatories to base final negotiations on the terms and conditions laid out therein.

Major features of the AiP included:

  • Transfer of province-like responsibilities over public land, resources and rights in respect of onshore waters in the NWT, including the right to tax resources and hydropower.
  • $26.5 million for one-time transition costs.
  • $65.3 million for the first year to fund the delivery of land, water and resource management programs, growing each year with the NWT’s estimated annual spending requirements or Gross Expenditure Base (GEB).
  • A Net Fiscal Benefit (NFB), consistent with the national Equalization program for provinces, of 50% of resource revenues from public lands up to 5% of the GEB. The NFB would have been about $65 million in 2012 and will grow each year as the GEB grows.
  • Transfer of existing federal Northern Affairs Organization properties and assets including buildings, building leases, records and assets.

Other important features included:

  • Recognition that Aboriginal and Treaty rights, including land claim and self-government agreements, are fully protected by the Constitution.
  • Agreement to coordinate onshore-offshore oil and gas administration among the GNWT, Government of Canada and IRC, with Canada’s commitment to begin negotiating offshore revenue sharing within 60 days of the final devolution agreement.
  • Agreement to develop a post-devolution GNWT-Canada arrangement to cooperatively address projects of national significance and strategic infrastructure.
  • Agreement to develop a post-devolution GNWT-Aboriginal government relationship to coordinate the management of resources, with ongoing federal funds up to $3 million per year for Aboriginal participation and up to $4 million in one time transition costs for Aboriginal governments.
  • Reference to the Resource Revenue Sharing Agreement that offers 25% of the GNWT’s share of resource revenues to Aboriginal governments – an agreement unprecedented in Canada.

View the full Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement-in-Principle (PDF 1.2Mb)


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