Regulatory and Policy Updates

Comparing Federal Impact Assessment to Northern Environmental Assessment

Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 11:00am to 11:20am Theatre Three


C.J. Birchall (Presenting)
Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP

Following more than 18 months of very heated debates inside and outside Parliament and the Senate, the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) came into force on August 28, 2019, replacing the previous federal environmental assessment regime under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012). Supporting regulations referred to as the Physical Activities Regulations and the Information and Management of Time Limits Regulations came into force on the same day. 

The basic structure of the IAA retains elements of CEAA 2012, including triggering through a Project List or Ministerial designation, four phases (planning, information gathering, assessment, decision), and legislated timelines. However, the IAA contains some key differences such as:

  1. authorizing project assessments to consider both positive and negative effects;
  2. authorizing project assessments to consider all socio-economic effects, not just all biophysical effects; and
  3. introducing a new "public interest" test for project approval.

The presentation will highlight the central features of the IAA and compare them to the environmental assessment provisions set out in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the guidelines established by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

The presentation will also provide a similar comparison to relevant provisions in the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act.