2021–2022 Departmental Plan: Operating context
The Agency operates in a continuously changing environment impacted by external factors such as markets and a socio-economic climate that can affect the type, timing, volume, and distribution of projects requiring assessment.
Protecting the environment while strengthening the economy and encouraging investment is a priority of the Government of Canada. Impact and environmental assessments are planning and decision-making tools that support this priority. In particular, these assessments assist with project design, facilitate Indigenous, public, and stakeholder participation, and ensure that appropriate measures are identified and implemented to mitigate adverse impacts of designated projects.
The Agency ensures that opportunities are provided for meaningful participation by Indigenous groups and the public. For example, the Agency administers a Participant Funding Program, which supports Indigenous groups, individuals, and non-profit organizations interested in participating in federal environmental and impact assessments, as well as regional and strategic assessments. Indigenous and public participation in federal assessments ensures an open, balanced process, and strengthens the quality and credibility of project reviews.
As environmental management is an area of shared responsibility between the federal and provincial levels of government, some projects may require both a federal and a provincial assessment. These may be coordinated so that a single assessment meets the legal requirements of both jurisdictions.
The federal Crown has a legal duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous groups when it contemplates conduct that may adversely affect Aboriginal or Treaty rights. By recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as their knowledge, cultures, and interests in project reviews, and by working in partnership with Indigenous peoples right from the start, the Agency advances Canada’s commitment to reconciliation.
The assessment process established under the previous CEAA 2012 and the current IAA coexists with other impact assessment requirements established under some land claims agreements. This includes: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the Northeastern Quebec Agreement, the Nisga’a Final Agreement, Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement, the Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement, and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. Close collaboration is required to ensure efficient coordination of these processes.
Project decisions are made transparently, guided by science, Indigenous knowledge, and evidence. Under the IAA, reviews include a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) assessment, which allows for a better understanding of the impacts of projects on communities and different groups of individuals.
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