Public Statement for the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Environmental and Regulatory Reviews

Better rules for major project reviews, to create a modern energy regulator, and to protect the public right of navigation.  

On February 8, 2018, the Government of Canada introduced proposed legislation that would put in place better rules to protect our environment, fish and waterways, and rebuild public trust in how decisions about resource development are made. With these proposed better rules, Canadians, companies, and investors can be confident good projects would be built in a way that protects our environment while creating jobs and growing our economy. The initiative will build strong environmental assessment and regulatory processes to ensure that economic development, environmental protection, health considerations and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples all move forward together. The initiative integrates the regulatory certainty, needed to ensure that good projects go ahead, with useful and inclusive opportunities for engagement at all stages of the project. It also aims for consideration of environmental, economic, social and health effects. Finally, it will also advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a collaborative approach respectful of Indigenous peoples’ rights, interests, and knowledge.

The initiative is expected to create important positive environmental outcomes through an improved approach to assessing the impacts of projects that need the Government’s approval. The initiative will:

  • strengthen the assessment, regulatory, and post-assessment processes
  • improve opportunities for an informed dialogue amongst governments, proponents, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and the public to identify and address issues related to the environment
  • enhance tools available to better understand and consider the environmental context in which projects are developed and cumulative effects

The initiative will support sustainable economic growth and reflects the holistic nature of sustainable development through the shift from environmental assessment to impact assessment. Impact assessment will include an early planning process to identify issues that are important to Indigenous groups and stakeholders and a requirement for a mandatory gender-based analysis plus. The list of projects subject to a federal assessment will be revised, following further consultation, to ensure projects with the greatest potential for adverse impacts on areas of federal jurisdiction are assessed. The initiative will reinforce the scientific objectivity and credibility of the impact assessment processes by ensuring that project assessments are based on the best available science, evidence and knowledge. The initiative will provide an approach to address cumulative effects that are largely outside the scope of single projects to enhance the understanding of the context in which a project is being considered. The initiative is expected to support most support the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals including:

  • Effective Action on Climate Change
  • Healthy Coasts and Oceans
  • Pristine Lakes and Rivers
  • Sustainably Managed Lands
  • Forest and Safe and Healthy Communities

For example, the Open Science and Data Platform will provide:

  • more complete information
  • encourage collaboration and sharing of data and information across multiple parties to facilitate research
  • increase data integrity

This will inform and facilitate scientific research on all aspects of the FSDS. The initiative will also contribute to conducting climate policy research and analysis and to developing a solid base of scientific research and analysis on climate change. Impact assessments will integrate climate change analysis and bring forward climate change considerations to decision-makers.

Many federal organizations and jurisdictions are responsible for implementing of Canada’s environmental assessment and regulatory processes. It will therefore require a whole-of-government approach to effectively accomplish the objectives of the initiative.

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