Environmental assessment bill adopted with broad range of amendments
Bill C-69 returns to House of Commons for consideration of proposed amendments.
Legislation to streamline the environmental impact assessment process for major projects in Canada has been adopted in the Senate following an intensive review that led to a complex set of proposals to improve the bill and respond to input from Canadians.
Bill C-69, which arrived in the Senate in June 2018, was the subject of extensive study at the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. Over the course of more than 100 hours, the committee heard diverse views from some 270 witnesses during a tour of 10 cities across Canada.
“Our deliberations and the input we have received have at times been intense, emotional, loud and divisive, but none of this is really surprising. The stakes are very high,” said Senator Grant Mitchell, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
“As challenging as this review process has been, I expect that most of us will look back on the experience as yet another clear and important indication of what the Senate can do to make bills better and develop effective public policy.”
The broad range of amendments proposed by the Senate aim to:
- clarify how the factors considered during an impact assessment will be scoped earlier, according to the particulars of each project;
- delegate ministerial powers to officials to reduce political discretion;
- enhance the involvement of lifecycle regulators and offshore boards to ensure their expertise is taken into account;
- lower the risk of litigation; and
- include additional references to the impacts on Indigenous women.
The amended bill now returns to the House of Commons for consideration.