The purpose of this
briefing note is to inform the current Minister of Environment and Climate
Change on potential improvements to the current Canadian Environmental Assessment
Act (2012) (CEAA). Since this is in light of the ongoing review, possible issues
and relevant solutions will be presented below.
In August of 2016 a four-person
panel was created to review the current CEAA. According to the Government of
Canada, this review was put into place due to desired improvements, including
the incorporation of more scientific evidence, greater protection of the environment,
involvement of Indigenous peoples, and the better economical growth. In April
of 2017 a report from the panel was submitted and is currently being assessed
by the Department of Environment and Climate Change.
While reviewing the Act,
the panel has found many aspects to be improved upon. These are described in
the report Building Common Ground: A New
Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada. Some prevalent issues brought up
– Currently, Indigenous groups around Canada experience more developmental impacts
than other residing communities. Due to past EA processes, there stands a lack
of trust and confidence between these peoples and the government. This leads to
these groups’ inclination not to participate in the assessments. In their eyes,
the current processes usually lead to conflicts rather than protection.
Lack of Public
Input – This issue is mostly due to the deficiency of value assigned to the
opinions of the public. Not only does this result in a less democratic decision-making
process, but also lessens the supervision of the project’s implementation.
Absence of Communication
Between Levels of Government – Due to many changes made in the 2012 CEAA
version, federal, provincial/territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments
are restricted to regulation in their respective jurisdictions. This causes
significant convolution in assessments, often resulting in repetition. Participants
value equality and efficiency over which faction leads the project.
Although there are numerous
additional concerns mentioned in the review of the current CEAA, implementing solutions
to the aforementioned problems will set a stable platform for future
development. Possible resolutions are listed below
Establish a formal
plan to follow UNDRIP standards, especially those outlining the involvement of
Indigenous culture in important decisions, including informed consent.
Install a requirement