Canada: The Notorious Bill C-69 Becomes Law in Canada

Late on June 20, 2019, Bill C-69 was passed into law by the Senate notwithstanding strong and vocal opposition from across the country. Bill C-69 enacts the Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and amends the Navigation Protection Act, renaming it the Canadian Navigable Waters Act.

The Senate passed Bill C-69 by a final vote of 57 – 37 and received Royal Assent shortly thereafter. The Senate originally recommended 188 amendments to the Bill, however, the House of Commons only accepted 62 of those amendments as written, and another 37 after alterations. The final version of the Bill passed by the Senate largely resembled the version of the Bill tabled by the Federal Government in the House of Commons on February 8, 2018.

The New Impact Assessment Process

Bill C-69 introduces a new, single agency - the Impact Assessment Agency (the “Agency”) - responsible for all federal impact assessments (“IA”) unless referred to a review panel. The new process expands the scope of federal assessments from potential impacts to the environment to include effects from the designated project to health, social or economic conditions. Notably, the National Energy Board is replaced by the Canadian Energy Regulator and will no longer conduct impact assessments on projects within its jurisdiction (e.g., interprovincial pipelines), as those reviews will be conducted by the Agency as well.

The new IA process retains the concept of a “project list” trigger, similar to what was found in previous legislation. Consultation on the criteria to be applied and the scope of the new project list has been ongoing for the past year. As the new regulations designating certain projects have not yet been released, it remains uncertain to what extent additional projects will be captured under the new legislation. Further, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change retains the power to designate other physical activities if he or she is of the opinion that adverse effects to federal interests or public concerns warrant designation.

The new IA process maintains the same basic structure of the environmental assessment process under CEAA, 2012. There will be three basic phases to an impact assessment - a planning phase, an assessment phase and a decision-making phase. The new planning phase is essentially a more extensive “screening” phase from what was provided for under CEAA, 2012 and contemplates earlier, more extensive dialogue with the public and Indigenous peoples to identify and discuss issues. This stage can last up to a maximum of 180 days from when a proponent submits an initial description of the designated project to the Agency. This stage ends when the Agency issues the notice of commencement and provides the proponent with tailored guidelines to direct the drafting of its Impact Statement, a document prepared by the proponent that identifies the potential impacts of a designated project.

The new IA process still legislates maximum timelines for reviews – now 300 days for Agency assessments (down from 365 under CEAA, 2012) and 600 days for Panel reviews (down from 720 days). Further, there are no longer “stop the clock” provisions that could suspend these review timelines under CEAA, 2012. However, there still are opportunities for the timelines to be extended or suspended. For example, the Minister would be able to extend the time period for the early planning stage up to 90 days. The Governor in Council could further extend this time limit, if required.

The Section 22 Factors

The impact assessment of a designated project, whether it is conducted by the Agency or a review panel, must take into account numerous factors (over 20) including an assessment of the changes to the environment and to health, social or economic conditions and the positive and negative consequences of these changes that are likely to be caused by the carrying out of the designated project.

Of note are three factors new to this legislation that have been the subject of considerable attention:

  • the contribution of the project to sustainability;
  • the extent to which project may hinder to contribute to Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and climate change commitments; and
  • the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.

“Sustainability” is defined in the new legislation as “the ability to protect the environment, contribute to the social and economic well-being of the people of Canada and preserve their health in a manner that benefits present and future generations”. No further guidance is provided as to how this, or these other two novel criteria, can be met.

Greater Participation of Indigenous Peoples

The new IA process emphasizes the need to consult with and meaningfully consider project impacts on Indigenous peoples and their rights early on in the review process and in greater detail than is currently required under CEAA, 2012. The section 22 factors expressly require consideration of Indigenous knowledge and culture as well as any effects assessment conducted by or on behalf of an Indigenous governing body that is provided with respect to the designated project.

Decision Making   

The basis for the decision on whether or not a designated project proceeds will also be different from what we know today. Under CEAA 2012, the decision making is based on whether the effects are significant and justified in the circumstances.

Under Bill C-69, the decision must be based on the assessment report and whether the adverse effects of a designated project within the federal jurisdiction are in the “public interest”. In making the public interest determination, the Minister (or Governor in Council) must have regard to the following:

  • the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability;
  • the extent to which the effects of project are adverse;
  • whether the implementation of the mitigation measures are considered appropriate;
  • the impact of a project on Indigenous groups and Indigenous rights; and
  • the extent to which effects of a project hinder or contribute to Canada’s ability to meet environmental obligations and commitments re climate change.


Bill C-69 is the new law in Canada. Short of a new Federal Government replacing or overhauling this piece of legislation, it appears that Bill C-69 is here to stay.

While the basic structure of the new IA process remains the same, the emphasis on Indigenous participation, sustainability and climate change factors introduces new criteria to be considered and increases the uncertainty associated with an already protracted federal assessment process, leaving it hard to imagine that Bill C-69 will achieve one of its stated objectives of more efficient and timely decision-making. In particular, it remains to be seen whether a large inter-provincial pipeline or a carbon-emitting, resource project could ever be found to be in the public interest going forward.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions