Yesterday, Canada's Minister of Finance released the 2012
budget, which proposes significant changes to the federal
environmental assessment (EA) and aboriginal consultation
processes. The changes reflect the government's intention to
remove regulatory barriers to investment and development. Once
implemented, the changes should simplify EA and aboriginal
consultation requirements, reduce delays and give provincial
governments more control over resource development.
The following improvements are planned:
Limit the number of federal authorities involved in EA and
aboriginal consultation processes
Integrate aboriginal consultation with EA reviews
Coordinate federal and provincial aboriginal consultation
Set specific federal EA timelines of 24 months for panel
reviews and 12 months for standard EAs
Authorize federal authorities to accept provincial EAs as
substitute for or equivalent to federal EAs
The federal budget follows in the wake of a review of the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) completed
earlier this month. In its review, the Standing Committee on
Environment and Sustainable Development suggested improving
timeliness and reducing overlap and duplication between the EA
processes of federal and provincial regulatory authorities. The
changes proposed in the federal budget follow many of the
Specific legislative amendments will be introduced to enact the
changes proposed in the budget. It remains to be seen how the
changes will affect projects currently under EA or aboriginal
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