Submission to CEAA Regarding the Five-Year Review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

This paper make a series of recommendations regarding improvements to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and its implementation, based on MiningWatch Canada's analysis. The recommendations are aimed at strengthening the application of environmental assessment (EA) in Canada, increasing public accountability, and improving the consistency of EA practice. Reference is made to the Discussion Paper distributed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ("the Agency"), though in some cases our proposals go beyond the options laid out in that document.

Key recommendations include:

  • Mandate the use of CEAA for assessment of federal policies and programs, to turn the current Cabinet Directive into a useful and accessible public policy tool by applying the public involvement features of CEAA
  • Allow the use of CEAA for regional and strategic EA, as well as the integration of REA/SEA into project assessments to provide the necessary context or "bigger picture"
  • Set out information or filing requirements for common regulatory ("Law List") triggers so as to allow them to be identified earlier in the planning process
  • Require public notification of projects at the filing stage, and provide mechanisms for public involvement in scoping of major projects
  • Disposition of projects (assessment/no assessment, scoping) must be tracked and the information publicly available
  • Mandate the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ("the Agency") to monitor application and compliance with CEAA across federal departments
  • Exclusion List and Class Screenings must be revisited to make them easier and more efficient for regulators to use
  • Improve training for "Responsible Authorities" (RAs)
  • Ensure accountability and transparency in the application of assessment decisions through a compliance-monitoring program administered by the Agency and mandated under the Act
  • Make consideration of need for a follow-up program mandatory
  • Make federal agencies, boards and Crown Corporations subject to CEAA by reversing current exemptions, i.e. allow regulations to vary/exclude CEAA provisions
  • Provide adequate resources for federal agencies responsible for implementing EA, to allow them to properly discharge their obligations
  • Explicitly recognise aboriginal peoples' Constitutionally protected rights on traditional territories and Crown land
  • Provide greater flexibility for the use of traditional knowledge in the EA process
  • Modify the "land trigger" to include all projects on federal land, including subsequent projects on leased land but not limited to leased land.
  • Explicitly recognise aboriginal peoples' Constitutionally protected rights on traditional territories and Crown land as per Delgamuukw decision.
  • Make the Federal Environmental Assessment Index (FEAI) functional
  • Participant funding must be provided wherever public participation is provided for
  • Provide opportunities for public participation in comprehensive studies, class screenings, and follow-up and monitoring programs
  • CEAA must apply to projects outside Canada
  • Mechanisms must be identified to allow appropriate public notification and participation