Bill C-17 - Amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESSA)
In 2015, as part of a wider initiative to modernize and streamline the northern regulatory regime, changes were made to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA). At the time, a number of Yukon First Nations and Yukoners raised concerns about certain sections of the legislation.
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring public trust in environmental assessments by ensuring sustainable resource development respects Indigenous rights and supports a resilient resource sector.
This is why, following formal discussions with Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Government, the Government of Canada has now introduced Bill C-17, a bill to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).
The bill introduced in the House of Commons on June 8, 2016, proposes to repeal four specific provisions in YESAA of greatest concern. These are:
- time limits on the review process
- exempting a project from reassessment when an authorization is renewed or amended unless there has been a significant change to the project
- ability for the federal minister to provide binding policy direction to the Board
- ability to delegate the federal minister’s powers, duties or functions under the Act to the territorial government.
Bill C-17 is an example of what can be achieved when government works in partnership with Indigenous communities. Last fall, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, committed to exploring ways to address concerns raised by Yukon First Nations, in the spirit of renewing the government’s relationship with First Nations. Earlier this year Canada, Yukon, the Council of Yukon First Nations and the self-governing Yukon First Nations signed an MOU that outlined mutually agreed upon steps towards addressing the First Nations’ concerns with the legislation.
Several face to face meetings were held with Departmental officials, Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Government. Bill C-17 is the result of those cooperative, conciliatory discussions.
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