Canada: The Proposed Impact Assessment Act: A Sea Change For Proponents Navigating Canada's Project Approval Regime

If the federal government's proposed Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is enacted substantially in its current form (which is expected), proponents of large energy, infrastructure and mining projects caught by the IAA will face new challenges and opportunities in obtaining regulatory approvals in a timely manner.

To illustrate some of the new courses that proponents may chart, this article maps out both challenges posed by the IAA's planning phase, and opportunities provided by the IAA's decision-making based on the "public interest."


After much anticipation, on February 8, 2018, the Government of Canada announced and introduced for first reading Bill C-69, which contains the IAA and other important regulatory changes. Bill C-69 is the product of a multi-year federal Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes. Bill C-69 has passed second reading and is currently subject to a review by a House of Parliament committee.

If enacted, the IAA would, among other things, repeal and replace the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and expand the focus from primarily environmental effects to a broader consideration of impacts. In other words, this would result in a major overhaul of the existing federal environmental assessment (EA) process—including through a new planning phase that effectively expands proponents' obligations. The IAA would also change the focus of decision-making. Whereas the CEAA 2012 asked whether a project would likely cause prohibited significant adverse effects and, if so, whether such effects justified in the circumstances,2 the IAA would ask whether a designated project would be in the public interest (including as defined).3

The IAA is expected to come into force in 2019. Although the government continues to consult regarding the application of the IAA, its application is expected to be at least as broad as the CEAA 2012 (for more on the IAA, see our analysis  here).

Planning Phase

Under the IAA, existing screening work under the CEAA 2012 to determine whether an EA is required will be expanded to include a planning mechanism. While some details are still to come, we do know that under the IAA, proponents would be required to provide the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) with a notice that, among other things, sets out how the proponent intends to address the issues identified by the Agency with respect to the project, including issues raised by the public or by any jurisdiction or Indigenous group that is consulted by the Agency.4 Under the IAA, the proponent is then required to provide the Agency with the identified information and studies within three years (unless the Agency provides an extension). Otherwise, the IA is terminated.5

As a result, the scoping of information collection and studies in the planning phase would be critical to whether an IA is–or even can be–satisfactorily completed and if so, by when. While some of these risks existed under the CEAA 2012, they were typically mitigated by such studies being conducted prior to the formal EA process commencing, without being subject to a time limit. Under the IAA, it will be very important for proponents (and their advisers) to develop approaches that sufficiently address the issues identified by the Agency and that are implemented in the timeframe permitted by the Agency.

Basis for Decision Making

Another significant change the IAA would bring is the basis in decision making moving from the potential for "significant adverse environmental effects" to the "public interest" decision-making basis. This change will mean that much more information will be relevant to assessing designated projects. For example, the public interest determination must consider, among other things, the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability, which the IAA defines 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."6 Proponents will want to ensure that the information provided in connection with the IAA includes a project's positive aspects–rather than focusing solely on adverse environmental effects. As a result, the scope of a proponent's information collection and studies may not be limited to the issues identified by the Agency, since they may not cover all of a project's positive attributes.


Proponents of large, potentially controversial energy, infrastructure and mining projects that are subject to the IAA may benefit greatly from considering how to obtain an approval under the IAA. Certainly, using some of the approaches that worked under the CEAA 2012 will not be optimal–and may not even be sufficient–under the IAA, including due to the planning phase and the public interest test.

If you have any questions regarding the IAA or would like to discuss it, please contact any of the authors.


1. See

2. See section 54.

3. See sections 60, 62 and 64.

4. See subsection 15(1) of the IAA.

5. See subsections 19(1) and (2) and subsection 20(1) of the IAA.

6. See sections 2 and 63.

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.

In association with
Related Topics
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