Designed to continue the implementation of the federal budget,
tabled on March 29, 2012, Bill C-45 follows an earlier omnibus
bill, Bill C-38, which commenced the current federal
government's reorganization of Canada's environmental
legislative landscape. Among other things, Bill C-38 enacted the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 which imposed a radical
shift in the federal environmental assessment process. For more
details on the specific changes brought about by Bill C-38, consult
Davis' previous blog post, available
Navigation Protection Act
The most significant environmental reforms imposed by Bill C-45
are the changes it makes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act
Enacted in 1882, the NWPA regulates the development of
infrastructure which could potentially impede movement through
Canada's navigable waterways. Under the NWPA, there are
extensive notice and approval requirements before any work may take
place in or around any water which may be navigated by any type of
floating craft. Approvals (including a consultation process) were
applicable both to all classes of construction, from the most
important infrastructure projects right down to footbridges and
docks in streams.
Bill C-45 will change the name of the NWPA to the Navigation
Protection Act (NPA) and limit the need for approvals to bodies of
water which are specifically listed in schedules to the Act.
Under the proposed
Schedule 2 to the NPA, 97 lakes and 62 rivers across Canada
have been listed. Additional bodies of water may be
added by regulation where the Minister of Transport is of the
opinion that it is in the national or regional economic interest or
the public interest to do so, or where a province or municipality
The construction of any works in a lake or river not included in
Schedule 2 would not require an approval under the NPA (though such
works would still be subject to any other approvals required by
Finally, the construction of pipelines and interprovincial power
lines are exempt from the NPA, though are still subject to other
applicable federal legislation.
Beyond these changes, Bill C-45 also disbands the Hazardous
Materials Information Review Commission, transferring all its
functions to the Minster of Health, and makes further changes to
the Fisheries Act, the result of which are that only fish of
"commercial importance" will be protected.
Although Bill C-45 makes many changes to all areas of
legislation, environmental groups have been among the most vocal
critics of the bill. Groups have have expressed concerns
that this new omnibus bill furthers the federal government's
ongoing efforts to do away with long established environmental
protections in favour of commercial interests, particularly those
associated with further development of the Alberta oil sands.
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