Rail service is a key element in accessing markets for Canada’s diverse range of resources. Premiers expressed concern about the rail backlogs and delays that shippers have experienced in getting their products to market. Premiers noted that due to the current lack of pipeline capacity a record amount of crude oil is now being shipped by rail. This situation could be amplified as the crude oil shipments by rail are expected to grow over the next year, driven mainly by increased shipments to the U.S. This impacts the timely transportation of other commodities and comes at a time when shippers are experiencing unacceptable backlogs and delays. Premiers encouraged the federal government to quickly develop and implement the rail regulations associated with the Transportation Modernization Act and ensure strategic infrastructure is in place, consistent with the priorities of Provinces and Territories.
Premiers also discussed the importance of investments in northern, rural and remote infrastructure. Premiers encouraged the federal government to continue discussions that respect the priorities of Provinces and Territories, including the flexibility to address the unique challenges faced by rural, remote, and northern communities.
The responsible development of natural resources in Canada provides economic growth and employment opportunities in communities across the country. The federal government’s new environmental assessment legislation must be considered in light of existing provincial and territorial world-class environmental policies and legislative frameworks that balance responsible resource development and environmental protection. Further, Provinces and Territories have established robust engagement practices, including engagement with Indigenous peoples, which must be respected. The cumulative impact of the federal environmental assessment legislation and other proposed federal regulations may affect industry costs, hinder competitiveness and result in duplication, additional administrative burdens and lead to confusion regarding the roles and responsibilities of governments.
Premiers discussed Bill C-69, which creates the Canadian Energy Regulator Act and the Impact Assessment Act. Premiers called on the federal government to provide increased clarity and detail regarding the proposed environmental and regulatory processes. They are concerned that the Bill may not provide the predictability and streamlined process required to ensure that economically beneficial, environmentally responsible projects are approved and built in Canada. Premiers urged the federal government to work closely with Provinces and Territories to ensure any changes to its environmental assessment processes:
- respect the jurisdiction of Provinces and Territories, including exclusive jurisdiction for resource development, the robust regulatory capacity of jurisdictions, and cumulative impacts on provincial-territorial lands;
- implement the principle of one project, one assessment, and when both federal and provincial-territorial processes are required, provide that both governments work together for instance through joint cooperation agreements;
- respect the role of joint management regimes relating to the offshore in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia;
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