Environmental assessment and protection of the territory

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Environmental assessment and territorial protection are at the heart of the JBACE's mandate as stipulated in Section 22 of the JBNQA. In recent years, there have been a number of issues that have caught members' attention in this area, and continue to do so.

Cumulative effects

Cumulative effects are changes to the environment caused by human action, combined with other past, present and future human actions. Cumulative effects may result from minor actions, when considered one by one, but whose impacts for a certain time in a given region may be significant. For several years, the JBACE has been interested in this matter in the context of environmental assessments.

Recent actions:

  • May 2016: study examining the consideration of cumulative effects in the directive, the environmental impact study, the review and the authorization of seven projects submitted to the Section 22 impact assessment and review procedure, prepared for the JBACE by an expert
  • September 2016: workshop between the JBACE and the Section 22 evaluating and review committees to discuss the findings and recommendations of the study with the intention of improving the procedure
  • November 2017: presentation of JBACE concerns regarding cumulative effects on Woodland Caribou herds and their habitat; recommendation to the responsible federal and provincial departments to undertake a rigorous review of cumulative effects on herds and habitats in the Territory
  • December 2018: adoption of an internal work plan by the JBACE members to continue the work in this file
  • Spring-summer 2019: JBACE participation in the roundtables for the creation of an Indigenous-led Centre of expertise on cumulative effects management

The JBACE continues its work in this area to implement the internal work plan adopted in December 2018.

Quebec's Environmental Quality Act

The Environment Quality Act (EQA) was introduced in 1972. In 2015, the MELCC (previously the MDDELCC) published a Livre Vert in order to update it. In June 2016, the MELCC published Bill 102 which outlined proposed changes to the EQA. The amended EQA was adopted in December 2016 and sanctioned in March 2017. Regulations for the implementation of the revised EQA were originally scheduled to come into force on December 1, 2018, but in July, the MELCC announced the establishment of sectoral co-creation tables for the said regulations, thus postponing the date that they should have come into force. The work of the co-creation tables began during the winter of 2019 and is styill on-going to this day.

Recent actions:

  • 2010: recommendation to the Government of Québec to use Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) to better reflect the environmental and social capacity of the northern environment to receive major development initiatives
  • September 2015: comments on the Livre Vert regarding modernization of the EQA, namely on: inclusion of SEAs, modifications to the environmental authorization system, access to information, transparency, and participation
  • June 2016: reiteration of the recommendation to include SEAs in the Strategic Vision for Mining Development from the Government of Québec
  • November 2016: adoption of a brief on Bill 102 regarding the modernization of the EQA
  • July 2017: meeting of a delegation of the JBACE with representatives of the MELCC to discuss modifications to regulations associated with the revised EQA
  • October 2017: opinion on regulations for the implementation of the revised EQA
  • April 2018: comments regarding the Regulation respecting ministerial authorizations and declarations of compliance in environmental matters (RRMADCEM) for the implementation of the revised EQA
  • September 2018: presentation by the MELCC to the JBACE regarding the development of a regulation on SEA
  • January 2019: meeting between the JBACE and the MELCC to pursue discussion on the development of the regulation on SEA
  • March 2019: comments on the draft document entitled Climate change and environmental authorizations - A Guide for project proponents
  • Spring 2019: participation of the JBACE in the sectoral co-creation tables (participation in the table for northern committees, observer to all the other tables)
  • July 2019: comments on the drafting of regulations for the implementation of the Environment Quality Act (negligible and low risk activities)

The JBACE will continue the dialogue with the MELCC and will comment as required on draft regulations, as well as on proposed amendments to existing regulations, as they are tabled.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) was introduced in 1992 and came into force in 1995. Although it included provisions to review it every five years, a first revision begins in 2000 and the process (including consultation with the public, Indigenous communities and government stakeholders) lasts more than one year. The second revision was scheduled to take place in 2010, but after being delayed, it was conducted over a short period of time in 2011 (a few weeks) and left little room for outside consultation. CEAA 2012 replaced CEAA 1992 and cane into force on July 6, 2012. In 2016, the federal government undertook a review of its environmental assessment processes. This review lead to the preparation of draft legislation (C-69) that will replace CEAA 2012. Bill C-69 received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force on August 28, 2019.

Recent actions:

  • November 2016: presentation of the JBACE on the Section 22 procedure as part of expert panel consultations established to consult and make recommendations to improve federal environmental assessment (EA) processes
  • February 2017: brief and recommendations on the review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012
  • May 2017: comments on the conclusions and recommendations of the expert committee
  • October 2017: comments on the review of environmental assessment processes in response to the federal government's Discussion Paper
  • April 2018: comments on Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
  • May 2018: comments on the proposed approach to amend the Regulations Designating Physical Activities (currently under CEAA 2012) in response to the Consultation paper on the approach to revising the project list: A proposed impact assessment system
  • May 2019: comments on the proposed revision of the Regulations Designating Physical Activities
  • May 2019: comments on the proposed Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations
  • June 2019: comments on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework for proposed project reviews and regulatory reviews

The JBACE continues to follow this file and comments the associated draft regulations.

Fisheries Act

The federal government conducted a major revision of the Fisheries Act over a short period of time in 2011 (a few weeks) and left little room for external consultation. The revised Act came into force in 2012, and the JBACE responded by promoting Cree consultation for the application of the revised Act while also working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to develop a guide adapted to the context of the James Bay Territory for its implementation (i.e. the self-assessment procedure). Since 2013, the JBACE has worked with the Regional Offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure that Cree rights are taken into account under the Fisheries Act. In the summer of 2016, the Government of Canada began reviewing a number of laws, including the Fisheries Act (Bill C-68). Bill C-68 received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force on August 28, 2019.

Recent actions:

  • October 2016: JBACE announces intention to participate in the review of the Fisheries Act
  • November 2016: comments to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as part of the review of the Fisheries Act
  • March 2017: publication of a guide for developers regarding the self-assessments they conduct for projects near water in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory
  • October 2017: comments on the Fisheries Act in response to the Discussion Paper issued by the Government of Canada
  • May 2018: comments on Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
  • September 2018: comments on the approach to amending the Applications for Authorization (currently under the Fisheries Act) in response to the Consultation Paper: Approach to a key regulation under the proposed fish and fish habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act
  • May 2019: comments on the proposed modifications to the Applications for Authorization under Paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act Regulations
  • June 2019: comments on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework for proposed project reviews and regulatory reviews

The JBACE continues to follow and comment on legislative amendments to the Fisheries Act.