Canada: New Federal Environmental Assessment Regime Now In Force

On June 29, 2012, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, and it was signed by the Governor General on the same day. Some of the changes to environmental legislation such as the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act (SARA) came into force on the day Bill C-38 was signed. Other changes required orders from the federal cabinet and the creation of new regulations, and thus their implementation was delayed. However, the wait was short as the cabinet orders bringing a number of the amendments into force, in particular those aimed at streamlining natural resource development approvals, were issued effective July 6, 2012. As a result, the new environmental assessment regime and the associated amendments to the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act) are now in effect.

Bill C-38 was the subject of our May 2012 Blakes Bulletin and details of the changes were described therein. In this article, we briefly describe the key provisions which are now in force and the implications for current proposed projects.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012)

In order for CEAA 2012 to become the law, an order was required from the federal cabinet. As noted above, that order was made effective July 6 and thus CEAA 2012 is now in force and the 1992 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 1992) is repealed.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has posted three "unofficial" versions of regulations which will be registered in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, including the Regulations Designating Physical Activities (the Regulations). The Regulations are the key to implementation of CEAA 2012, as they create the mechanism which triggers the application of the federal environmental assessment process to a project. Like CEAA 2012, the Regulations were effective July 6. As a result, new proposals for projects which do not meet the thresholds in the Regulations will not require federal environmental assessment.

The list of projects in the Regulations is identical to the list in the Comprehensive Study Regulations under CEAA 1992, with the exception of some projects in national parks which have been removed. In other words, only the categories of projects which would formerly have been required to be assessed as comprehensive studies will be assessed under CEAA 2012. Conversely, new project proposals which would have been assessed as screenings under CEAA 1992 will not be subject to federal assessment. We note the Minister is granted the power to designate projects for assessment which do not otherwise fall under the Regulations, but there is no indication of how, or even if, the Minister intends to exercise this power.

Projects currently being assessed under CEAA 1992

The following describes how the federal environmental assessments which had already commenced under CEAA 1992 were impacted by CEAA 2012:

  • Panel reviews were transferred to the process and timelines under CEAA 2012.
  • Comprehensive studies were continued under the process in CEAA 1992, with the addition of new timeline requirements.
  • Screenings were continued under the process in CEAA 1992 only if they were included in a special order from the Minister of the Environment on July 6, 2012. A list of the projects which were subject to the Minister's order can be found here. All other federal screening assessments were permanently suspended as of July 6, regardless of where they were in the process.

Entities unsure of the status of their current federal environmental assessment should check their project listing on the CEAA Registry as projects which were not continued now have a notice under "final decision".

The CEAA 2012 has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of projects being subject to formal environmental assessment at the federal level, which was a key commitment made by the federal government in implementing CEAA 2012. The magnitude of this reduction can be seen in the most recent statistics available from the Agency. For example, as of April 2010, there were 2,906 screenings, 26 comprehensive studies, and nine panel reviews. As of July 6, 2012, including the screenings which were transitioned under the Minister's order, there is a total of 70 projects currently subject to federal environmental assessment.

National Energy Board Act

The amendments to the NEB Act which align with the new CEAA 2012, including the transfer of the final decision-making on certificates of public convenience and necessity from the NEB to the federal cabinet and the time limits for reviews, were also brought into force by a cabinet order effective July 6. By separate cabinet order effective the same date, the changes to the NEB Act focusing the NEB's consideration of export licence applications on whether the export volumes are surplus to Canadian requirements were also brought into force.

The provisions streamlining the authorizations for pipeline crossings of utilities and navigable waters are not yet effective, neither is the power of the NEB to issue administrative monetary penalties. These require separate cabinet orders which have not yet been issued.

Species At Risk Act

The key change to the permitting provisions of SARA came into force automatically when Bill C-38 was signed on June 29 and thus SARA no longer restricts the length of time a permit or agreement can remain valid. However, contrary to the view of some commentators, permits and agreements must include an expiry date – there is just no longer a statutorily imposed time-frame. The amendment to the environmental assessment requirements for species at risk were brought into force with CEAA 2012 on July 6, 2012.

Fisheries Act

As set out in our May 2012 Blakes Bulletin, the changes to the Fisheries Act will be brought in through a staged approach. Some of the amendments are already in force, while others are awaiting changes to government policies key to their interpretation.

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.

Events from this Firm
26 Oct 2018, Other, Vancouver, Canada

Cybersecurity, including data privacy and security obligations, has become a critical chapter in every company’s risk management playbook.

30 Oct 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Please join us for discussions on recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits as well as employment law issues.

12 Nov 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Stories aren’t falsehoods. Stories are the root of all effective human communications: they motivate, animate and clarify. If you aren’t telling stories, you probably aren’t getting your point across.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must 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