North

N.W.T. needs to step up its climate change strategy, says auditor general

Canada's auditor general, Michael Ferguson, was in Yellowknife on Wednesday to talk with territorial legislators about the N.W.T.’s climate change strategy.

October audit made 8 recommendations for Infrastructure and Environment and Natural Resources

Auditor General Michael Ferguson, centre, was in Yellowknife to talk to territorial legislators about the N.W.T.'s climate change strategy. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Canada's auditor general was in Yellowknife on Wednesday to talk with territorial legislators about the N.W.T.'s climate change strategy.

In a report released in October, federal Auditor General Michael Ferguson found that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) was failing to make substantial, comprehensive policy changes related to climate change in the territory.

His audit also looked at the Department of Infrastructure, which he found did not have an overall climate change adaptation plan for public buildings.

Since the audit, the territorial government has released a strategy for dealing with climate change, including three main goals: adapting to the changing climate, using fewer fossil fuels and improving knowledge of climate change impacts.

Ferguson said on Wednesday that the strategy is just the first step.

"It's good that they're working on that. But it needs to get to the step of actually being an approved strategy, not just a draft strategy," he said.

"They need to get an approved strategy that's in place that then they can work towards actually implementing and make sure that it's working."

For the last year, Ferguson helped guide the two government departments with its climate change strategy and to address his eight recommendations from the audit.

"We were able to incorporate the recommendations and their findings as we were developing the climate change strategic framework," said Lisa Dyer, the environment director for ENR. 

The territory has been seeking public input on its draft strategy.

But, Kieron Testart, the MLA for Kam Lake who is also on the committee reviewing the audit, says he's concerned that the territory still isn't addressing one of the recommendations, which stipulated that it should be engaging and gathering input from the public about its climate change strategy and initiatives.

"We're not connecting it to a repository of information that can be shared with the public. And that really needs to be the step. And your action plan to date doesn't address that," he said at the meeting Wednesday.

The climate change strategy is open for public comment until Friday.

With files from Jamie Malbeuf

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