November 8, 2004

Canada, Ontario agree to co-operate on EA process

An agreement signed late last month by Canada and Ontario is the latest in a series of federal-provincial accords on environmental assessment co-operation.

The Canada-Ontario Agreement on Environmental Assessment Co-operation establishes administrative mechanisms and guides federal-provincial co-operation for the environmental assessment of projects subject to both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. The agreement maintains the current level of environmental standards and the legislative and decision-making responsibilities of both governments.

While projects requiring both provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals will still require separate approvals, decisions will be based on the same body of information and there will be an ability to make decisions concurrently. Projects that are subject to both federal and provincial environmental assessment legislation include municipal and provincial projects that require federal environmental approvals, permits, licences, or involve federal funding, such as infrastructure projects.

"The co-operative agreement is in keeping with the federal Speech from the Throne that calls for a unified and more effective environmental assessment process in Canada," said federal Environment Minister St√ąphane Dion, adding that as part of the government's economic strategy and smart regulations approach, it will help "make it easier for businesses to do business in Canada."

Ontario Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky observed that the agreement "is making government more efficient and more effective - while maintaining environmental protection, Those projects that are subject to both the federal and provincial environmental assessment legislation will experience improved co-ordination, timeliness and certainty as environmental assessments are carried out."

Similar EA co-operation agreements are in place between the federal government currently and British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Yukon. The agreement can be viewed on the Web sites of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca , or the Ontario Ministry of Environment, www.ene.gov.on.ca. Print copies may also be requested from the Agency's regional office, 416/952-1576 or the MOE's public information centre, 416/325-4000.

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