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Newly appointed Secretary to Cabinet to focus on modernization of NWT public service

Press Release

January 30, 2024

Premier R.J. Simpson announced today that John MacDonald will assume the role of Secretary to Cabinet and Deputy Minister of the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, effective immediately. The Secretary to Cabinet provides coordination and leadership to the executive branch of government and is the most senior official within the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) public service.

Instrumental in realizing the ambitions of the 20th Legislative Assembly, Mr. MacDonald will play an important role in leading, supporting and empowering the public service to deliver quality programs and services to residents with a focus on modernizing GNWT program service and delivery while creating a person-centred approach that puts ease of access at the center of program design.

Mr. MacDonald has served as Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Employment since 2021. Before becoming Deputy Minister, he served in various senior leadership positions in the GNWT, including with Environment and Natural Resources and Education Culture and Employment. Prior to moving to the Northwest Territories in 2018, he served in senior positions within the Government of Nunavut.

The Premier thanked retiring Cabinet Secretary Martin Goldney for his leadership of the public service over the past four years. Mr. Goldney will continue to support the transition to new leadership as an Associate Deputy Minister with the Department of the Executive and Indigenous Affairs until his retirement in March 2024.

Sam Shannon will act as Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Employment until a successor is appointed.


“I am pleased to welcome Mr. MacDonald as the new Secretary to Cabinet and Deputy Minister of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. His efforts will be geared towards a vision of governance that emphasizes close collaboration with Indigenous governments and effective partnership with the federal government, as well as empowering the public service to better serve residents. I am confident that Mr. MacDonald will provide adept leadership as we continuously strive to better serve the residents of the Northwest Territories.”

R.J. Simpson – Premier of the Northwest Territories

Quick Facts

Deputy Ministers are the non-elected head of a GNWT department.
The Commissioner in Executive Council appoints Deputy Ministers on the advice of the Premier.
Deputy Ministers serve at pleasure and are accountable to the Premier for the performance of their duties.

Related Links

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Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories


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