Jurisdictional Cooperation Under the Proposed Federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA)

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Impact Assessment Act, Climate Change, Regulatory Process, Canada


Constitutional responsibility over environmental issues is shared between the federal and provincial governments in Canada. As a result, efforts to ensure effective cooperation have been important to the successful implementation of environmental law and policy. With respect to impact assessments, the issue is more complex. Jurisdiction, in the context of federal impact assessment (IA) reform, is about the relationship between the federal IA process and processes in provincial, municipal, Indigenous and international jurisdictions potentially affected by proposed projects, policies, plans or programs. The focus of discussion about IA jurisdictional cooperation is often on the relationship between federal and provincial assessment processes, but it is important to consider the role of other jurisdictions. The issue is further complicated by the need to consider not just project assessments, but also regional and strategic assessments.

In this post, we consider the progress made under Bill C-69 toward the adoption of an effective legislative framework for cooperative impact assessments. We consider this question in three stages. We first summarize the recommendations of the Expert Panel on federal reform with respect to cooperation and harmonization with other jurisdictions and processes. We then consider the changes reflected in Bill C-69 compared to the current process under CEAA 2012. Finally, we conclude with our assessment of the effectiveness of the proposed changes and recommend adjustments to ensure meaningful progress toward effective, efficient and fair cooperative assessment processes.