Health and Social Services Research in the NWT

Questions and Answers

*The Aurora Research Institute (ARI) is the primary contact for all research related inquiries in the NWT. For information regarding research ethics, licensing, logistics and resources, please refer to their website:

I have an idea for a health related research study in the NWT. How do I know if it fits with the research priorities of the DHSS?

The Department has published a GNWT Health and Social Services Research Agenda. This agenda outlines five overarching research priorities that represent important gaps in information which have impacts across the system and population. They are:

  1. Improving the health status of the population through prevention and education
  2. Improving access to primary care services
  3. Mental health and addictions
  4. Child and family services
  5. Addressing disparities in Aboriginal health

For a detailed explanation of the research priorities, please review the GNWT Health and Social Services Research Agenda.

What type of support can I request from the DHSS?

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to supporting researchers who are addressing our research priorities. Those conducting research aligned with our priorities can request the following types of support. Our ability to provide support will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Letters of Support

The DHSS can provide Letters of Support for researchers during their application process for funding or licensing. Depending on the level of detail provided in the research proposal, the Department will state their potential level of support outlined in the letter.


The DHSS is home to a wide variety of professionals with broad spanning skill sets.  The Department also has extensive networks that can be leveraged within the research community in the NWT.

Strategic Support for Required Research

The DHSS may on occasion actively seek proponents to work collaboratively on specific research questions. Support for such projects might include collaboration, knowledge translation partnerships, or financial contribution(s).

When do I have to apply to the Aurora Research Institute?

All research in the Northwest Territories must be licensed through the Aurora Research Institute's licensing process. For any research involving human participants, the licensing process requires an ethical review and approval from an institutional research ethics board. The Aurora College Research Ethics Committee (REC) is responsible for reviewing applications from Aurora College staff as well as applications from external researchers who do not have access to an institutional ethics review. Please see their website for complete details. (

Additionally, under the NWT Health Information Act (HIA), any research that is being conducted only in the NWT and requires identifiable information must receive approval through Aurora College’s REC. For more information, please refer to chapter 7 in the NWT Health Information Act Guide.

Where should I apply if I want to use personal health information in my research?

If you require personal health information for your research study, you must make a formal application to the data custodian. Data custodians include the Department of Health and Social Services, the Health and Social Services Authorities, private pharmacists or private physicians. For further information and where to apply, contact the DHSS research support email at

What do I need to include in the formal application to the custodian (the Department or Authority) for personal health information?

You should include the following in your application:

  • Written request for disclosure of health information
  • Research proposal
  • REC Approval
  • Research License
  • Any other information required by the custodian, such as express consent, conditions, or recommendations set by the REC, security safeguards, or destruction methods