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For Better or Worse? Changes to Environmental (Impact) Assessment

Highlights 

  • The government of Canada initiated a review of environmental assessment in June 2016 and tabled Bill C-69 (Impact Assessment Act) in February 2018; it is now in third reading.
  • British Columbia initiated a review of its Environmental Assessment Act and process in April 2018 and is scheduled to present proposed changes by the end of 2018 – too much too fast when combined with other reviews underway.
  • Whatever the intentions of policy-makers, the changes being introduced to federal environmental assessment and energy regulatory regimes are likely to discourage investment and job creation in Canada's natural resources, infrastructure and manufacturing sectors by raising costs, further complicating project reviews, and adding to Canada's reputation as a place where large projects go to die.
  • Most discouraging, BC may be on the same path as Canada. Only time will tell if the outcomes from the BC review are positive or negative. 
  • Neither Canada nor BC are in the middle of an environmental crisis despite messaging to the contrary from some politicians and interest groups.
  • Ultimately, Canadians and British Columbians pay the price for the uncertainty created by the myriad of changes to our environmental and energy regulatory processes currently underway. Yet we seem intent on fixing a system that is NOT broken, undermining competitiveness in a world where we are price takers for the resources and manufactured good that dominate Canada's exports.

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