Office of the Public Guardian

Office of the Public Guardian

The Office of the Public Guardian helps family members or close friends become legal guardians of individuals 18 years of age and older, who are unable to make decisions about their personal or health care.  The Public Guardian can become the guardian for the individual if the individual has no family members or friends who are willing, suitable or able to act as guardians.

People who need help with their decisions may have:

  • a long-term mental condition;
  • brain damage;
  • dementia; or
  • a serious mental illness.

To become a a legal guardian, you should call the Office of the Public Guardian.  They will then do an assessment.  That means they will test the adult's ability to make decisions to find out if a legal guardian is necessary.  That assessment then goes to the courts.  The courts decide what kind of decisions the legal guardian may make, and grants an order giving specific powers to the guardian.

The kinds of decisions that the legal guardian may make include:

  • health care;
  • living arrangements;
  • employment;
  • social and recreational activities;
  • education;
  • day-to-day decisions;
  • consent to withhold life supports; and
  • consent to restraint and confinement.

The guardian does not make decisions about money.  A different person called a trustee makes those decisions.  For more information about trusteeship, contact the Department of Justice at (867) 873-7464 or visit their website (

What is the difference between Guardianship and Trusteeship?

A guardian is responsible for the decision-making of the individual's personal and health care, whereas a trustee deals with managing the individual's finances.

Contact Us

Office of the Public Guardian

Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
10th Floor, Precambrian Building
4920 – 52nd Street
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Phone: (867)767-9155
Fax: (867) 873-0248

Regional Public Guardian Representatives
Beaufort-Delta Health and Social Services Authority(867) 777-8000(867) 777-8049
Dehcho Health and Social Services Authority(867) 695-3815(867) 695-2920
Fort Smith Health and Social Services Authority (867) 872-6204(867) 872-6275
Hay River Health and Social Services Authority(867) 874-7201(867) 874-7211
Tlicho Community Services Agency(867) 392-3000(867) 392-3001
Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority(867) 920-3338(867) 873-0369