While the latest version of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) dating back to 2012 has proved to be inefficient so far, a panel of experts in ecology launched a high-level public review session in order to analyze the current state of the assessment processes in Canada and suggest some ways of optimization to turn Environmental Assessment into a truly powerful decision making tool. Unfortunately, now this system does not achieve its initial goals to bring value to the Canadian economy, society and, what’s more, environment itself due to the lack of practical information to be used during creation of state policies and programs that somehow deal with ecology (e.g. pipeline approvals).
According to the Government of Canada, the EA review results will help to build new processes based on such essential parameters as scientific research, respectful relations with the Indigenous peoples and the action items related to environmental protection. Not only will this lead to priceless ecological benefits, but will eventually influence the rate of economic growth through smart resources’ mining and safe infrastructure establishment. The idea is to replace CEAA with a new environmental law covering the items of sustainable development. In addition, the advanced assessment processes are to become more democratic due to the involvement of citizens who will get an opportunity to express their individual opinions on the matter and directly send corresponding suggestions instead of gathering at the street meetings and going to court. In the end, the ongoing environmental reforms are to bring such values as free public participation in law discussions, transparent and easily available information, equality in decision-making and sustainability.
Preparation for the wide-scale review of Environment Assessment processes started in May 2016 when the experts from all over Canada met at the Federal EA Reform Summit in Ottawa. The review itself was launched in September 2016 and guided by the 4-person Expert Panel led by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, which organized a special tour across Canada held in forms of various workshops and public gatherings, including meetings with Indigenous groups. People were granted numerous opportunities to express their views both in person and online.All in all, the Experts visited 21 cities, reviewed more than 500 online suggestions. In addition, the Panel was advised by a Multi-Interest Advisory Committee, consisting of the representatives from Indigenous organizations and various industrial associations.
By the end of March 2017, the Expert Panel submitted their final review report, also containing some recommendations and practical guidelines to be applied during formation of the new law. Canadians were welcome to submit their comments and suggestions that will be considered alongside the report results by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
What is happening now?
Until August 28thCanadians are welcome to read the discussion paper that summarizes some action items suggested by the government in terms of environmental assessment processes and new legislation. Here you can submit your feedbacks, comments and suggestions that will be then taken into consideration by the Government of Canada and CEAA, still supporting the whole optimization process. Do not stay out of the process, express your thoughts and participate in the creation of the sustainable future for Canada!