Evaluation Report of the Contribution Program: James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement - Paragraphs 22.3.19 and 23.5.19
- Executive Summary
- Program Delivery
- Objectives of the Program
- Purpose and Scope of the Evaluation
- Annex 1 Functions of the Secretariats
- Annex 2 Documents Reviewed
- Annex 3 Persons Interviewed
The Federal Accountability Act (FAA) requires all transfer payment programs to be evaluated (relevance and effectiveness) over a five year period.
The contribution program related to Canada's share of expenses of the secretariats for the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment (JBACE) and the Kativik Environment Advisory Committee (KEAC) is authorized by paragraphs 22.3.19 and 23.5.19 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) respectively. This summative evaluation of that contribution program was based on a review of documentation such as the JBNQA, minutes of advisory committee meetings and their annual reports, and interviews with chairpersons of the advisory committees, the executive directors of the secretariats and officials of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency), Environment Canada and representatives of the recipient.
The obligation for Canada to share the expenses of the secretariats is entrenched in the JBNQA which has force of law. Until such time as the JBNQA is amended or repealed, the advisory committees' workload continues and secretariat services and funding are needed.
The advisory committees are fulfilling their obligations under the JBNQA. They have strategic plans in place and have a full workload as evidenced in their annual reports and other documents such as minutes of meetings. The expected results of this contribution program are being met, to the extent that they can be, through work of the advisory committees and their secretariats.
Un-audited financial statements were reviewed and the cost of the contribution program was determined to be reasonable; however, there is an issue with respect to the payment process which has resulted in a surplus of funds (as of March 2006) for both advisory committees.
A joint working group (the Agency, Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Quebec (MDDEP), and advisory committees) has been established to deal with the surpluses. Their recommendations need to be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the FAA and the Terms and Conditions of this program.
A contribution program, with Quebec as recipient and the advisory committees as beneficiaries, is an appropriate vehicle for Canada to deliver on its commitment. The objectives of the program as outlined in the Terms and Conditions are appropriate. However, agreement(s) between the Agency, the recipient and the beneficiaries need to be reviewed to ensure they are up to date and consistent with the Terms and Conditions of the program.
The JBNQA is one of Canada's first modern land claim settlements. Signed in 1975, it fulfils a commitment to deal with land issues dating back to the late 1800s. Signatories to the JBNQA include the Government of Quebec, the "Société de l'Énergie de la Baie James", the "Société de développement de la Baie James", the "Commission hydroélectrique de Québec (Hydro-Québec)", the Grand Council of the Crees (of Quebec), the Northern Quebec Inuit Association and the Government of Canada.
The JBNQA contains many components such as Provisions for Local Government, Education, Hunting, Fishing and Trapping, Economic Development and Health and Social Services. Another important component of the JBNQA is Environmental and Social Protection (sections 22 and 23).
Sections 22 and 23 of the JBNQA contain provisions related to the undesirable environmental impact and social effects of development. The provisions attempt to maximize positive effects while assessing their impact. Section 22 establishes the JBACE for certain lands between north of the 49th parallel and south of the 55th parallel while section 23 establishes the KEAC for certain lands north of the 55th parallel.
The JBACE has 13 members of which the Cree Regional Authority, Quebec and Canada appoint four each and one member is the Chairman of the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee that is established by and in accordance with section 24 of the JBNQA. The KEAC has nine members; Canada, Quebec and the Kativik Regional Government each appoint three.
The role of the committees is to act as a consultative bodies to responsible governments and among other things; recommend legislation, regulations and other appropriate measures related to the environmental and social protection regime for enactment or action by the appropriate authority, examine existing environmental and social laws and regulations, as well as land use regulations and procedures which might directly affect the rights of Native people and examine and make recommendations respecting the environmental and social impact assessment, and review mechanisms and procedures for the territory.
The President of the Agency has been designated by order-in-council as the Federal Administrator of the JBNQA responsible for ensuring the conduct of environmental reviews under federal jurisdiction in the territory covered by the JBNQA. Other committees and panels such as the Evaluating Committee (COMEV), the Provincial Review Committee (COMEX) and the federal review panel (section 22 of the JBNQA) and the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission and federal review panel (section 23 of the JBNQA) are responsible for among other things, conducting those evaluations and reviews.
Under paragraphs 22.3.19 and 23.5.19 of the JBNQA, both Canada and Quebec are required to equally fund and maintain secretariat support services for the JBACE and KEAC advisory committees. As a result of a separate agreement between Quebec and the Cree Regional Authority, it was agreed that the latter will contribute half of Quebec's share for the regular and normal secretariat services until March 31, 2052.
The secretariats provide a supporting role to the committees and are responsible for all the day-to-day administration and financial activities, arranging meetings, recording committee decisions, collecting and distributing information, analysis of laws and regulations etc. A complete list of functions is contained in Annex 1 of this report.
The Agency provides Canada's share of the cost of the JBACE and KEAC secretariats through a contribution program, wherein, Quebec is the eligible recipient and the two advisory committees are the ultimate beneficiaries. The funds are provided to Quebec which in turn allocates them to the advisory committees based on agreements between those committees and Quebec.
Objectives of the Program
The objectives of the program as outlined in the March 2006 Terms and Conditions of the contribution program are as follows;
- Support the environmental advisory committees and the Evaluating Committee (COMEV for section 22) in fulfilling their roles and mandates relative to the application of the environmental and social protection regimes under the JBNQA; and
- Ensure the participation of the Cree and Inuit representatives in federal and provincial review panels for the assessment of projects that fall under the JBNQA.
Purpose and Scope of the Evaluation
The purpose of this evaluation is to measure the relevancy and effectiveness of the contribution program established to meet Canada's obligations to share the cost of the secretariats that support the two advisory committees (JBACE and KEAC) under the JBNQA.
The FAA requires all transfer payment programs to be evaluated (relevance and effectiveness) over a five-year period.
This summative evaluation is limited to the review of the contribution program. It is not an audit nor is it an evaluation of the advisory committees or of the JBNQA.
The scope of this project was to determine the following:
- Relevance/Need. This portion of the assessment was to determine in what way the mandate and the objectives of the contribution program are still relevant.
- Impacts/Success. The primary focus was on identifying the extent to which the intended expected results of the program have been achieved. These expected results include:
- enhanced relationships and communications with First Nations and other local communities;
- improved capacities of the environmental advisory committees to review and oversee the administration and management of the environmental and social protection regimes under section 22 and 23 of the JBNQA;
- higher participation levels of First Nations members to the review panels;
- improved application of federal environmental evaluation processes;
- and increased public involvement in the environmental assessment process for projects that may affect their environment and quality of life.
- Cost Effectiveness/Alternatives. Under this section, the costs associated with the program were assessed against the outcomes with a specific focus on whether or not the resources were being used effectively and efficiently.
- Design/Delivery. This focused on determining whether the design of the program, including performance data that are collected, are adequate or appropriate for meeting the program's objectives and expected results.
This evaluation was conducted:
- by reviewing documents such as strategic plans, annual reports, minutes of meetings, financial statements of both advisory committees, various agreements between the Agency and the recipient and between the recipient and the ultimate beneficiaries, and Treasury Board of Canada policies (see Annex 2 of this report); and
- through interviews (in person and by telephone) with a number of individuals representing the Agency, Environment Canada, MDDEP, certain members of the advisory committees, the executive secretaries of the committees and a representative of the Kativik Regional Government (see Annex 3 for list of people interviewed).
Relevance/Need (are the mandate and objectives of this contribution program still relevant?)
The evaluation determined that the objectives of the contribution program as indicated above are still relevant, the secretariats are performing their roles and meeting their objectives and there continues to be a need to fund their expenditures. Relevancy and need were determined through a review of the committees' strategic plans, results achieved to date, outstanding issues and projected workload. In addition, the obligation for Canada to share the expenses of the secretariats is entrenched in the JBNQA which has force of law. Until such time as the JBNQA is amended or repealed, the program and its objectives are relevant and Canada must maintain its commitment to fund its share of the secretariats' expenditures.
Impacts/Success (extent to which the intended expected results of the program have been achieved).
1. Enhanced relationships and communications with First Nations and other local communities
Inuit Territory (section 23 of the JBNQA)
The KEAC has reached out to the communities by moving its secretariat office from Montreal to Kuujjuaq resulting in increased accessibility by members of the Inuit community. Advisory committee meetings are held in a number of different northern communities and are often attended by leaders such as mayors, members of Municipal Councils and representatives of Regional Government Authorities and landholding corporations. Annual reports and position papers of the KEAC are written in both official languages, as well as Inuktitut.
Cree Territory (section 22 of the JBNQA)
Although the JBACE Secretariat offices are in Montreal, several of the committee meetings were conducted in Cree communities.
Advisory committees websites were developed and are functional. Those sites contain a description and mandate of the committees, comprehensive information and plans on on-going and upcoming issues, annual reports, minutes of meetings and newsletters on results of evaluation committee deliberations and other environmental topics of interest to local communities.
Various information sessions and training programs are provided and/or coordinated at a number of communities.
2. Improved capacities of the environmental advisory committees to review and oversee the administration and management of the environmental and social protection regimes under sections 22 and 23 of the JBNQA.
The secretariats are providing services to the advisory committees as specified in the JBNQA and committee members are satisfied with the efficiency and effectiveness of those services. Furthermore, the people interviewed are of the view that the committees would not be able to fulfill their responsibilities without the work of the secretariats (see Annex 1 for a list of services provided by the secretariats).
3. Higher participation levels of First Nations members to the review panels.
Paragraphs 22.6.4 and 23.4.11 of the JBNQA establish the federal review panels. The Agency is responsible for the operation of these panels that review projects proposed for the territories within the JBACE and the KEAC supervision. Paragraphs 22.6.5 and 23.4.12 establish the composition of the panels. Three members are appointed by the Federal Government and two by the Cree Regional Authority (paragraph 22.6.5), and two by the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) (paragraph 23.4.12).
Cree representation on federal review panels for the Cree territory has been at the maximum level (2) for all projects reviewed.
Historically, the federal review panel for the Inuit territory had difficulties in obtaining a quorum as the KRG representatives were not paid remuneration to participate. Paragraph 23.4.12 provides that "The remuneration of a member of the Review Panel and his expenses shall be paid for by the body which appoints such member. However, the expenses of the members appointed by the Regional Government or their duly authorized representatives on such panel shall be borne by the secretariat of the Advisory Committee referred to in this Section." The KRG maintained the position that it does not receive enough funding from the Government of Canada to provide remuneration to its participants on the review panel. In 2004, the Agency decided to compensate the KRG representatives directly from the Agency operating budget for their participation on the federal review panel and, since then, participation of the KRG has been excellent.
In 2002, a screening committee was established by the Agency. This committee, prescribed in section 23 of the JBNQA, is comprised of two representatives from the Government of Canada and two representatives of the KRG.
4. Improved application of federal environmental evaluation processes in the James Bay and Northern Quebec region.
Various position papers and recommendations have been made to the responsible governments and the Federal Administrator to improve certain evaluation processes. For example, as a result of the consultation process with respect to Bill C-9 (a Bill to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act), both committees submitted position papers which were considered by the Agency.
In 2004, the JBACE initiated a study on the assessment and review procedure respecting Category I lands. On the basis of an investigation conducted with key local and regional interveners, the JBACE identified a set of measures likely to enhance the application of the procedure respecting Category I lands. The recommendations pertain to the planning of projects, local capacities, the regulatory framework and the consultation of communities.
The JBACE strategic plan for 2005-2007 indicates that a similar study on the assessment and review procedures will be conducted for all categories of lands, including those projects listed as being included or excluded from this procedure (Schedules 1 and 2).
Both advisory committees initiated a review of Schedules I and II of their respective sections (22 and 23) of the JBNQA. These initiatives are still underway with the participation of all levels of governments.
5. Increased public involvement in the environmental assessment process for projects that may affect their environment and quality of life.
Research is currently underway by JBACE and KEAC to examine national standards of other countries that are established to improve the environmental assessment process for projects that may affect aboriginal environment and quality of life and increase public participation. Once the research is complete, recommendations will be made to the responsible governments for consideration and implementation.
Other Important Results
Details of advisory committee activities, issues, and other accomplishments can be obtained by viewing their strategic plans, annual reports and minutes of meetings that are contained on their web sites. JBACE (www.ccebj-jbace.ca) and KEAC (www.keac-ccek.ca).
Cost Effectiveness/Alternatives (are the resources being used efficiently and effectively?)
The JBACE's Secretariat has one full-time employee and a part-time employee, whereas the KEAC has only one full-time employee. Eligible expenditures incurred by the secretariats include the following:
- salaries, wages and related expenses including employee benefits of secretariat officials;
- operating expenditures of the secretariats (e.g. telecommunications, mail, office supplies, furniture, etc);
- professional services contracts as per paragraph 22.3.22 and paragraph 23.5.22 of the JBNQA;
- secretariat travel expenditures;
- expenses of Cree representatives on the Federal Review Committee (COFEX-South) and the Provincial Review Committee (COMEX) that are appointed by the Cree Regional Administration;
- expenses of Inuit members on the Federal Review Committee (COFEX-North) that are appointed by the Kativik Regional Government; and
- secretariat operating expenditures in support of activities of the Evaluating Committee (COMEV).
Un-audited financial statements were reviewed and the costs of the program and expenditures were determined to be reasonable; however, there are concerns with respect to the payment process.
There is a contribution agreement in place between Canada and the recipient (2001 to 2006) regarding the process for making payments. Those processes are reasonable but may not be consistent with the payment process outlined in the current Terms and Conditions of the contribution program. For example, the Agency is providing funding equal to its one half share of the total budget rather than reimbursing the recipient for actual eligible expenses. This has, in part, contributed to accumulated surpluses for both advisory committees (JBACE $505,000 as at March 31, 2006 and KEAC $126,000 as at March 31, 2006). In addition, the advisory committees are concerned that payments made under the process are not timely. A joint working group (the Agency, MDDEP and advisory committees) has been established to deal with the surpluses. Their recommendations need to be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the FAA and the Terms and Conditions of this program.
The recipient has entered into agreements with the ultimate beneficiaries; however, those agreements deal only with the budget and payment process. The agreements should be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the Terms and Conditions of the contribution program.
Notwithstanding the process concerns noted above, the persons interviewed and documents reviewed indicate that the resources provided to the secretariats are being used effectively to support, advisory committees, Agency and provincial objectives.
Design/Delivery (are the program's objectives and expected results adequate or appropriate?)
A number of program delivery vehicles were examined including Grants and Statutory Payments, and it was concluded that a contribution program with Quebec, as the recipient and the advisory committees as the ultimate beneficiaries, is an appropriate vehicle for Canada to deliver on its commitment to share the cost of the secretariats to the advisory committees, as required under the JBNQA.
The objectives of the program as outlined in section 2 of the Terms and Conditions are consistent with the requirements of the JBNQA and are adequate and appropriate for this program. The expected results, especially numbers 3 and 4, should be reviewed to ensure that they are achievable more directly through activities of the advisory committees.
- the program remains relevant and funding is still needed;
- a contribution program is an appropriate vehicle to make this transfer payment;
- the surplus situation is being dealt with but the procedures need to be reviewed to ensure consistency with the FAA and with the Terms and Conditions;
- the advisory committees and secretariats are attaining their objectives effectively and efficiently and the expected results of the contribution program are being achieved to the extent that they can be through actions by the advisory committees; and
- some expected results (expected results 3 and 4 above for example) may not be appropriate for this program.
It is recommended that:
- the accumulated surpluses be dealt with pursuant to sections 76(1) (b) and (c) of the FAA and in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the contribution program;
- the process of making payments as outlined in the current Terms and Conditions of the contribution program be followed;
- contribution agreements between the Agency and the recipient and agreements between the recipient and the ultimate beneficiaries should be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with Treasury Board Policy and guidelines on Transfer Payments and the Terms and Conditions of this contribution program; and
- the Agency, in consultation with the recipient and beneficiaries, review expected results number 3 and 4 above to ensure that they are meaningful and can be accomplished through activities of the advisory committees.
Annex 1 Functions of the Secretariats
Secretariat functions include:
- support for the preparation of budget proposal;
- day-to-day accounting, ('tenue de livres');
- analysis of Bills, draft regulations, policies and programs and preparation of a proposed course of action for the committee;
- responding to information requests from other JBNQA committees, government departments, Cree communities or the general public;
- request technical information from governments or other bodies and distribute such information to interested parties;
- receiving and ensuring treatment of complaints regarding the application of the environmental and social protection regime;
- initiating and maintaining a network of contacts with the Cree communities, government departments and agencies, consultants, etc;
- supervision of work done by employee and intern and monitoring of contracts with consultants;
- receive and distribute data and information to the members;
- make arrangements for meetings of the advisory committee;
- report the results of meetings and decisions of the advisory committee;
- prepare agenda for meetings and record the minutes;
- prepare and or assist in the preparation of annual reports, strategic plans and other such information and planning documents;
- review publications such as the Canada Gazette to determine what new laws and or regulations need to be reviewed;
- provide all administrative support to the advisory committee, such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, maintenance of the web site, dealing with correspondence, etc;
- hire technical experts on behalf of the advisory committee to conduct research;
- pay for Aboriginal participation on review committees or review panels; and
- other functions as the committees from time to time deem necessary.
Annex 2 Documents Reviewed
Documents reviewed as part of this evaluation included the following:
- The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement;
- Terms and Conditions of the contribution agreements (March 2001 and March 2006);
- Annual reports and financial statements of JBACE for the periods ending March 31, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006;
- Annual reports and financial statements of KEAC for the periods ending March 31, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006;
- Various minutes of meetings of both the JBACE and KEAC;
- Convention entre le gouvernement du Canada et le gouvernement du Québec relativement au Financement du Secretariat du comité consultative pour l'environnement Kativik (February 1987 and 2001);
- Convention entre le gouvernement du Canada et le gouvernement du Québec relativement au financement du Secretariat du comité consultative pour l'environnement de la Baie-James (February 1987 and 2001);
- Protocole administrative et financier concernant le fonctionnement du comité consultative sur l'environnement de la Baie James et du comité consultative sur l'environnement de la région nordique respectivement institues par les chapitres 22 et 23 de la Convention de la Baie James et du Nord Québecois (May 15, 1978);
- Administrative Agreement between the Ministère de l'Environnement and the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment (JBACE) concerning maintenance and operation of the JBACE Secretariat;
- Administrative Agreement between the Ministère de l'Environnement and the Kativik Environment Advisory Committee (KEAC) concerning maintenance and operation of the (KEAC) Secretariat;
- Treasury Board of Canada policy on Transfer Payments (June 1, 2000);
- Guide on Grants, Contributions, and Other Transfer Payments (Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (2002-07-01);
- Correspondence between the Agency and le Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs (September 22, 2006);
- Various invoices from the recipient to the Agency; and
- Information contained on the websites of the advisory committees (www.ccegj-jbace.ca) and (www.keac-ccek.ca).
Annex 3 Persons Interviewed
People interviewed included:
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
- Mr. Steve Burgess - Executive Director, Headquarters
- Mr. Francois Boulanger - Regional Director, Quebec Region and member of the JBACE
- Ms. Annie Deziel - Senior Advisor, Quebec Region and member of the JBACE
- Mr. Eric Giroux - Senior Advisor, JBNQA, Quebec Region, member of the Evaluating Committee and the Screening Committee, Executive Secretary of the Federal Review panels
- Mr. Daniel Nadeau - Director, Finance
- Mr. Ronald Kuzak - Senior Officer, Finance
- Quebec Government
- Mr. Robert Joly - Director, ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs (Québec)
- Committee Members
- Mr. Guy Demers - Chairperson, JBACE
- Mr. Michael Barrett - Chairperson, KEAC and representative of the Kativik Regional Government
- Mr. Claude Abel - Past chairperson and current member of KEAC and Project Officer, Environment Canada
- Mr. Marc Jetten - Executive secretary, JBACE
- Ms. Nancy Dea - Executive secretary, KEAC
- Treasury Board Secretariat of the Federal Government
- Mr. Seth Cain - Program Analyst
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