Discussion Paper Released on Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes

News Release

June 29, 2017                                                    Ottawa                             Government of Canada                 

Our government has committed to reviewing and modernizing environmental assessment and regulatory processes. Our goal is to protect the environment and introduce modern safeguards, support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and ensure good projects go ahead and resources get to market sustainably. Consultation is at the core of these reviews and a way forward in rebuilding public trust. 

Today, the Government released a discussion paper — one important step in this effort. Drawn from extensive public consultations, Expert Panel reports and Parliamentary studies conducted over the past 12 months, this paper outlines potential reforms being considered to rebuild trust and modernize Canada’s environmental and regulatory processes. This includes a review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the National Energy Board Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Navigation Protection Act.

The proposed reforms are based on the guiding principles of early, inclusive and meaningful public engagement; nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government partnerships with Indigenous peoples; and timely decisions based on the best available science and traditional knowledge.

The discussion paper outlines a potential path for good projects to proceed in partnership with Indigenous peoples and effective, science-based, enforceable conditions, with clear timelines. The Government of Canada is interested in the views of Canadians to inform its decision-making as it considers what policy, program and legislative changes to make.

Key measures being considered include:

  • Establishing a single government agency responsible for assessments of federally designated projects. The review would go beyond environmental impacts to also consider social, health and economic aspects of a project and require a gender-based analysis. Joint assessments will be undertaken with the life cycle regulator for major energy transmission, nuclear and offshore oil and gas projects. Each review will draw on carefully reviewed scientific evidence, Indigenous knowledge and available data on the cumulative effects in the region where the project is planned.
  • Requiring an early planning phase to foster greater collaboration and engagement between proponents, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders, the public and federal and provincial governments. This will build a common understanding of interests and issues and provide greater clarity and certainty to proponents.
  • Early and regular engagement and partnership with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of Indigenous rights and interests from the outset, seeking to achieve free, prior and informed consent through processes based on mutual respect and dialogue.
  • Restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

Our aim is to modernize the project assessment process so that decisions can be made effectively and efficiently in collaboration with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples — with the goal of having one assessment for one project. This will position us to remain globally competitive, attract investment, develop natural resources responsibly and advance a clean growth economy.

In June 2016, the Government launched a comprehensive review to address concerns about previous reforms to environmental assessment processes, lost protections for our fisheries and waterways, and the need to modernize the National Energy Board.

Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, industry, environmental groups and the public to ensure we get this right.

Canadians are invited to share their views on the discussion paper at www.canada.ca/environmentalreviews until August 28, 2017.


“Today, we are demonstrating significant progress in our efforts to restore credibility to our environmental and regulatory processes, including modernizing the National Energy Board. The additional engagement this summer will help shape an enduring approach to how natural resource projects are reviewed in the future while ensuring we maintain our global competitiveness through greater certainty for investors and stronger, cleaner economic growth for Canada’s middle class.”

-       The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources

“The environment and economy go hand in hand. That’s why our government will deliver environmental assessment and regulatory processes that regain public trust, protect the environment, support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and ensure good projects go ahead that get resources to market sustainably. At the end of the day, we want to get good projects built to create jobs and support communities across our country, while protecting the environment for our children.”

-       The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“We have put public consultation at the core of these reviews. We remain committed to restoring lost protection and incorporation of modern safeguards in the Fisheries Act. Over the summer, we will be doing our second round of consultations, leading to a bill to make changes to the Fisheries Act.”

-       The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Our government is committed to maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system. We’ve heard from Canadians about the navigation protections most important to them and are now moving forward to engage on proposals to restore protections, partner with Indigenous peoples and protect the public right to navigate Canada’s waterways.”

-       The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“This discussion paper lays out a new, better path for our work with Indigenous peoples on resource development — one that sets the full recognition of Indigenous rights and interests, consistent with the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the basis of our partnership from the outset. This is important progress in our commitment to building a renewed, nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

-       The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“The Government of Canada is working hard to ensure science remains at the heart of public policy. This discussion paper reflects the work we are pursuing to establish an environmental assessment process that is both open and transparent and provides the evidence on which sound decisions will be made.”
-    The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

Associated Links


Natural Resources Canada:

Alexandre Deslongchamps

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

Review of Environmental Assessment Processes:

Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change


Toban Morrison
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Modernizing the National Energy Board:

Alexandre Deslongchamps

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister

Natural Resources Canada


Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

Fish Habitat Protection :
Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister

Media Inquiries
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Navigation Protection:

Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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