Strengthening Emergency Response
Canadians expect the environment and the economy to go hand in hand. An important part of this is protecting our oceans and keeping them healthy, clean and safe for future generations. The regulatory framework that supports Canada’s marine safety regime is built on international and domestic cooperation, is supported by more than 100 regulations enabled by almost 30 Acts, international agreements and commitments, and is first and foremost focused on preventing accidents from occurring.
The Government of Canada understands that for many coastal Indigenous communities, the risk of an oil spill and its possible impact on the culturally significant Southern Resident Killer Whale, as well as fishing activities, remains a serious concern. Accordingly, Canada’s emergency response system ensures the government is ready and able to respond quickly to spills in Canadian waters.
Through the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan (OPP), the government is:
- establishing 24/7 emergency response and incident management;
- increasing on-scene environmental response capacity;
- improving oil-spill response plans;
- acquiring new environmental response equipment for the Canadian Coast Guard;
- sharing near–real time information on marine traffic with Indigenous and coastal communities to support emergency response; and
- modernizing Canada’s marine safety regulation and enforcement regime.
The government will also mitigate the environmental effects related to the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project by building on existing federal programs and implementing new measures. The National Energy Board (NEB) will continue to regulate the project throughout its life cycle.
Following a 22-week reconsideration process, the CER submitted its Reconsideration Report on the project with an overall finding that the TMX project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved subject to 156 conditions and 16 new recommendations.
All 156 of the CER’s proposed conditions are within the scope of its regulatory authority and TMC would be required to meet them for the project to proceed. Conditions imposed by the CER are legally binding.
The conditions cover a wide range of areas, including: emergency preparedness and response; protection of the environment; pipeline safety and integrity; consultation with affected Indigenous communities; socio-economic considerations; commercial support for the project prior to construction; and TMC’s financial responsibilities. Of these 156 conditions, a number of conditions address strengthening emergency responses.
The government has also asked the CER to amend six conditions to respond to concerns from Indigenous communities and address outstanding impacts to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
To view the full list of conditions, visit the CER’s condition compliance web page.
The CER made 16 recommendations related to marine shipping. These include: managing and monitoring the cumulative effects on the Salish Sea; measures to offset increased underwater noise and increased strike risk posed to Species at Risk Act-listed marine mammal and fish species; enhancing marine oil-spill response; improving marine shipping and small vessel safety; reducing greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels; and co-developing the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee.
The government has a broad response strategy to address the 16 recommendations. Three of these (#7, #14, and #15) deal directly with marine oil-spill response and recovery. These include:
- building on the OPP with new accommodation measures;
- updating the 1995 Response Organization Standards;
- investing to advance oil-spill science research through the Multi-Partner Research Initiative;
- incorporating lessons learned from the OPP’s Regional Response Planning pilot project in northern B.C.;
- engaging innovators, spill responders, Indigenous groups, and industry to determine the best way forward to promote the development of new oil-spill technologies;
- implementing an oil-spill recovery technology development program continue to improve oil-spill response technologies; and
- conducting a policy review and consulting with Canadians on the compensation pertaining to ship-source oil spills under the Marine Liability Act.
As part of the re-initiated Phase III consultations, consultation teams had an expanded mandate to discuss specific accommodation measures to address the concerns of potentially affected Indigenous groups. In total, the government has put forward eight accommodation measures to focus on capacity building, long-term relationship building, marine safety, spill prevention, response capacity, cumulative effects, fish and fish habitat, quieter vessels and further terrestrial studies.
The Co-Developing Community Response (CDCR) accommodation measure addresses communities’ concerns about the risks of increased project-related tanker traffic to marine activities, the environment and culturally important and sacred sites in their traditional territories. Through CDCR, the government and Indigenous communities will co-develop response capacity at the community level to support a meaningful role for Indigenous communities in the broader marine response system. The implementation of this accommodation measure will facilitate a tailored approach to meet the needs of the individual communities.
To comply with the CER’s conditions, TMC is responsible for tracking the implementation of its commitments on the project. This includes the preparation of a construction Emergency Response Plan (ERP), as well as consultations with First Nations on the development of enhanced ERPs for the expanded pipeline system.
To view the full list of TMC commitments, visit the Commitments Tracking Table.
Complemented by generational investments in Canada’s oceans and clean technology, the TMX project is clear evidence that Canada can grow its economy and deliver its natural resources to international markets while safeguarding the environment and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
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