Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver (the
"Minister"), recently announced that the federal
government intends to overhaul Canada's Nuclear Liability Act
Passed nearly 40 years ago, the Act has been instrumental in
facilitating the development of Canada's nuclear industry. It
implemented, among other things, no-fault operator liability and a
cap on operator liability. This approach is broadly consistent with
other jurisdictions except that the cap on operator liability,
fixed at $75 million in 1976, has been significantly outpaced in
most other jurisdictions. This anachronistic limit has been a
lightning rod for criticism as well as a significant impetus to
amend the Act.
There have been five attempts since 2003 to amend or replace the
Act. None have been successful. Private Member's Bill C-415,
which was an attempt to amend the Act in order to increase the cap
on operator liability to $1.1 billion, failed in 2004. This was
followed by the failures of Bills C-63, C-5, C-20 and C-15. All of
these bills floundered due to circumstances completely unrelated to
their merits, such as the proroguing or dissolving of
In the recent announcement by the Minister, several proposed
changes were described. Primarily, the liability cap of $75 million
would be increased to $1 billion. Claims would be permitted through
a greater number of categories and an improved procedure for
delivering compensation would be designed and implemented. The
scope of compensable damage would be broadened to include economic
loss and environmental damage and the limitation period for certain
claims would be increased to 30 years. The new legislation would
also provide for a specialised claims tribunal to, among other
things, accelerate claims payments.
Interestingly, the federal government is also considering having
Canada join the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention
on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (the Convention)
which would provide for funds from other member countries to
supplement Canada's domestic compensation regime.
Stay tuned for further blog updates on the Convention and on the
Minister's proposed legislation.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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