On February 6, 2018, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-68, its promised amendments to the Fisheries Act. On February 8, 2018, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-69 which substantially changes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEEA), the National Energy Board Act and updates and renames the Navigation Protection Act to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. Both Bills were the result of extensive consultation by expert panels and comments from the public. Some key proposed changes in both bills are:
- explicit recognition of the importance of the Federal government to consider, engage and respect indigenous rights and to consider effects upon the indigenous people of Canada;
- the introduction of factors to be considered when decisions are being made;
- reintroducing the language of harmful alteration, disruption or damage to fisheries habitat in the Fisheries Act;
- the creation of a new Impacts Assessment Agency and new time process for assessing potential designated projects; and
- the creation of a new Canadian Energy Regulator with a new structure consisting of a governance board as well as distinct hearing commissioners and a new definition of navigable waters.
All of the legislation will also require further regulations. Undoubtedly, these bills will attract further scrutiny and comment as they proceed through Parliament.