GLOBE-Net, April 12, 2017 -The Government of Canada has launched a public comment period on the Expert Panel report related to the federal review of environmental assessment processes.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna invited Canadians to read the Expert Panel report and share their views until May 5, 2017 at LetsTalkEA.ca.
“We want to build a new system that serves the public’s interest and provides certainty to businesses. At the end of the day, we want to get good projects built. We know they create jobs that support communities across our country,” said the Minister.
In August 2016, a four-person Expert Panel was established as part of an initiative to review Canada’s environmental assessment processes to build a new system that Canadians trust.
The stated goal of the initiative is to have new processes that are fair and based on science, respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, provide certainty to businesses and protect our environment for generations to come.
The Panel spent months engaging the public, Indigenous groups, and stakeholders, both in person and online. It visited 21 cities, received over 500 online submissions, and welcomed over 1,000 participants at engagement sessions.
The Expert Panel report provides recommendations on possible approaches to improving current environmental assessment processes. The Panel found that the current EA process:
- Imposed unrealistically short timelines for the review of complex documents by interested parties
- Did not allow for adequate Indigenous participation or jurisdictional cooperation
- Significantly reduced the number of projects subject to review
- Placed more accountability for some assessment decisions in the political realm
To restore public trust and confidence in assessment processes, the panel recommended that any authority given the mandate to conduct federal assessments should be aligned with the Panel’s guiding principles. In developing recommendations for how to govern federal impact assessments (IA), the Panel has identified four areas of focus:
- Striving to remove any perceived notion of bias on the part of responsible authorities;
- Maximizing the benefits of a planning-focused IA;
- Instilling co-operation and consensus as a governance philosophy; and
- Ensuring that IA delivers transparent, evidence-based decisions.
The government will review the report and all of the input received as it considers a path forward including any potential legislative, regulatory or policy changes required. This work will be supported by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The Expert Panel report is one component of the Government of Canada’s review of environmental and regulatory processes which was launched in June 2016.
The other components that were launched included reviews to modernize the National Energy Board, as well as to restore lost protections and introduce modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.