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GNWT releases What We Heard Report on Missing Persons Legislation

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by ahnationtalk on July 6, 202387 Views


July 6, 2023

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has released its What We Heard Report on Missing Persons Legislation.

The What We Heard report provides a high-level summary of the input received from the public engagement with NWT residents from June 16th to July 25th, 2022. The report has been compiled to provide an understanding of the areas of interest and concern raised by Northerners regarding missing persons legislation.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls highlighted the need for legislation related to missing persons in Canada. The Government of the Northwest Territories is responding to the Calls for Justice through its Action Plan, Changing the Relationship.  Action 75 outlines that the GNWT will develop missing persons legislation.

The development of missing persons legislation for the NWT has been based on findings from a comparative analysis of legislation related to missing persons across Canada, best practices in policing, the protection of victims and those at risk of being victimized, and access to information and the protection of privacy.

NWT residents were also invited to have a say in the development of this legislation by completing an anonymous online survey.  A significant number of stakeholders and partners were contacted directly and invited to participate in the survey. In addition to completing the survey online, residents were given the option to provide their responses by mail or email.

The engagement received 88 contributions from 81 participants. The feedback covered a wide range of topics. While many residents agreed that law enforcement should be able to access some private information to aid an investigation, privacy and protection of personal information was also a common concern. Most respondents agreed that law enforcement should limit the information publicly released about missing persons. Many respondents expressed concerns about the possibility of overreach by law enforcement. Respondents wanted clear legislation, with many stating the wording of legislation commonly contains too much jargon or that some definitions are unclear. Some also called for more nuanced legislation, accounting for vulnerable groups or situations where a missing person is fleeing domestic abuse, or cannot or does not want to return home.

The results of this public engagement will inform how the GNWT proceeds with the development of missing persons legislation.

Quote(s)

“The Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes the seriousness of the issue of missing persons and its real life impact on the family and loved ones of missing persons.  We are committed to responding to the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and have been working to put forward legislation to further support missing persons investigations.

– R.J. Simpson, Minister of Justice

Quick facts

  • The GNWT is responding to the Call for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to develop missing persons legislation.
  • The GNWT’s public engagement on missing persons legislation ran from June 16th to July 25th, 2022 and consisted of an anonymous online survey that took approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.
  • A significant number of stakeholders and partners were contacted directly and invited to participate in the survey. In addition to completing the survey online, residents were given the option to provide their responses by mail or email.
  • The GNWT’s public engagement was advertised via social media, online ads, and in newspapers.
  • Missing persons legislation has been enacted in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Ontario.

Related links

For media requests, please contact:

Thomas Ethier

Communications and Official Languages Advisor

Department of Justice

Government of the Northwest Territories

Email: thomas_ethier@gov.nt.ca

Phone Number: 867-767-9256, ext. 82083

NT5

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