SASKATOON, SK, July 11, 2019 – Premiers agreed on the importance of balancing environmental stewardship with economic growth and competitiveness. They emphasized the need for a clear, predictable and timely environmental assessment process and for provinces and territories to be directly involved in federal legislative or regulatory development. Premiers stressed the important role of strategic infrastructure in getting Canadian goods, services and natural resources to markets and creating jobs.
Environmental Assessment and Federal Policy Initiatives
Premiers discussed the need to ensure the environment is protected as Canada’s economy grows. The responsible development of natural resources will provide opportunities for growth and prosperity, while also assuring protection for Canada’s water, air and land.
Provinces and territories have clear jurisdiction over the development of natural resources. They have developed world-class regulatory regimes that balance environmental protection and economic and labour growth. Premiers urged the federal government to work with provinces and territories on an ongoing basis to ensure a transparent and coordinated approach to environmental assessment across Canada.
Premiers expressed a variety of views on the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, the Impact Assessment Act, the Act to Amend the Fisheries Act and the Act to Amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. Some Premiers expressed concern that these new federal laws would not provide the predictability and streamlined process required to ensure that economically beneficial, environmentally responsible projects are approved and built in Canada. They felt that these laws, combined with the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, would severely affect Canada’s global competitiveness and its ability to reach growing new markets, such as the Asia-Pacific region.
However, all Premiers were unanimous in renewing their call for full implementation of the principle of “one project, one assessment.” They again urged the federal government to employ transparent, predictable and consistent decision-making criteria that:
- respect the jurisdiction of provinces and territories, including exclusive jurisdiction for resource development, the robust regulatory capacity of jurisdictions, and cumulative impacts on provincial and territorial lands;
- balance consideration of direct project impacts;
- include clear engagement requirements throughout all phases of the impact assessment process, with particular recognition paid to engagements involving Indigenous peoples;
- provide details on expectations and operations of each phase of the assessment process;
- respect the role of joint management regimes relating to the offshore in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia; and,
- adhere to rigorously managed timelines so that major projects stay on track and are not jeopardized due to unnecessary and costly delays.
Timelines for environmental assessment processes must be globally competitive with comparable international jurisdictions with similarly robust environmental regimes.
Premiers emphasized the importance of directly involving provincial and territorial governments in the development of regulations and policies for the implementation of environmental assessment legislation so as to ensure certainty for all parties in the regulatory process.