Statement by Ministers Guilbeault and Virani on the Supreme Court of Canada’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act
October 13, 2023 – Ottawa – Government of Canada
Four years ago, the Impact Assessment Act came into force to address the concerns the Government of Canada heard about the federal approval process for major projects like oil and gas pipelines, mines, hydroelectric dams, ports and nuclear facilities. Specifically, the Impact Assessment Act responded to the need for an open, transparent and predictable process that supports development while protecting the environment and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Impact Assessment Act delivered a regulatory framework that enables cooperation with provincial and Indigenous partners to serve the public interest and ensure sustainable prosperity for current and future generations of Canadians in every province.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court of Canada’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act:
“Today, we accept the Court’s opinion, which provides new guidance on the Impact Assessment Act, while explicitly affirming the right of the Government of Canada to put in place impact assessment legislation and collaborate with the provinces on environmental protection.
"The Government of Canada developed the Impact Assessment Act to create a better set of rules that respect the environment, Indigenous rights and ensure projects get assessed in a timely way. We remain committed to these principles. We are heartened that the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed our role on these core principles. We will now take this back and work quickly to improve the legislation through Parliament.
“We will continue to build on 50 years of federal leadership in impact assessments. We respect the role of the Supreme Court in Canada’s democracy and, as such, we will follow the guidance of the Court and collaborate with the provinces and Indigenous groups to ensure an impact assessment process that works for all Canadians.
“Our immediate priority will be to provide guidance to our many stakeholders and Indigenous partners to ensure as much predictability as possible for projects affected by this opinion. We understand the importance of timeliness in determining a path forward. The Government of Canada wants to ensure clarity and certainty for investment in the projects this country needs. We are committed to address this promptly and continue to make Canada an attractive and predictable place to invest in good, sustainable projects as we create and protect middle class jobs and advance on the path of reconciliation."
- The Impact Assessment Act came into force in August 2019, repealing and replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
- The Government of Canada worked with provincial and territorial governments when developing the new legislation to ensure their views were considered while working towards a common goal – meeting the needs of all Canadians.
- To respect Canada’s constitutional setting, under the Impact Assessment Act, each province and territory retains authority for making separate decisions based on their respective areas of jurisdiction. The Impact Assessment Act provides for close cooperation with other governments and Indigenous governing bodies to support an objective of “one project, one assessment” to avoid duplication and facilitate more timely and efficient project assessment processes.
- Currently, there are 23 projects in the federal impact assessment process under the IAA, with eight final decisions having been issued by the Minister or the Agency allowing those projects to move forward.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
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