On June 21, 2019, Bill C-69, which includes the Impact Assessment Act (“IAA”), new federal legislation governing environmental assessments at the federal level, received Royal Assent. The IAA is not yet in force.
In February 2018, we wrote an overview of the IAA and the way that it differed from the current environmental assessment process in place under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (“CEAA 2012”). Since that time, the IAA was considered by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and debated in the Senate. As a result, some amendments were made to the text of the proposed bill, including amendments clarifying the autonomy of the Impact Assessment Agency (the “Agency”), and amendments removing some of the discretion provided to the Minister under the original text and moving that discretion to the Agency (for example, the discretion to suspend the time limits provided for an impact assessment under the IAA). However, the purpose and scope of the IAA has largely remained as described in our overview.
We understand that the federal government is working on guidance documents to support the coming into force of the IAA, and that such guidance documents may be released throughout the summer. The Agency has also indicated that it will roll out a national training program to support implementation of the IAA. Prior to the IAA coming into force, a projects list regulation will be needed to set-out the projects that are subject to this new federal impact assessment process. We will be watching for the release of the projects list regulation and the coming into force of the IAA, particularly in light of the federal election scheduled for this fall. Stay tuned.