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ARCHIVED - RPP 2006-2007
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

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Section I – Overview

Minister's Message

I am pleased to present the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities. This report outlines the results to be achieved through the key activities of the Agency over the next three years.

The Agency's plans and priorities are in support of its role in providing Canadians with high quality environmental assessments that are produced in an open, accountable and timely manner and that contribute to informed decision-making in support of sustainable development. The Agency is committed to working with federal authorities, provincial, territorial and aboriginal governance partners, stakeholders and the public to achieve these objectives.

Over the past year, the Agency has taken a leadership role in implementing a series of actions to improve the timeliness, predictability and certainty of environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Working collaboratively with authorities throughout the federal government, the Agency will build on these accomplishments by identifying and implementing further improvements in support of high quality environmental assessments, meaningful public participation and a timely and predictable process.

The federal environmental assessment process plays an important role in safeguarding the environment while supporting a vibrant and sustainable Canadian economy. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will continue to provide the leadership required to ensure that role is played in an efficient and effective manner.

It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to submit the Agency's 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities.

Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment and
Minister responsible for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide to the Preparation of Part III of the Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports.

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance.

  • It is based on the Agency's approved program activity architecture (PAA) as reflected in its Management Resources and Results Structure (MRRS).

  • It represents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information.

  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to the Agency.

  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Jean-Claude Bouchard

Summary Information

Reason for Existence – The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency provides leadership and serves as the centre of expertise for federal environmental assessment processes. The Agency's mandate is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision making in support of sustainable development.

The strategic outcome that defines the work of the Agency is "Environmental assessment is an integral part of program and policy decision-making." The Agency's program activity is "Efficient and Effective Environmental Assessment". This work is achieved through three key programs: coordination and cooperation, guidance and operation, and continuous improvement.

The Agency also has a functional program activity, Corporate Services, the details of which are contained in Section IV.

Financial Resources

($ thousands)

2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
18,033 16,054 16,054

Human Resources

(Full Time Equivalent-FTE)

2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
149 146 146

Agency Priorities by Strategic Outcome and Program Activity

Detailed Agency plans to deliver expected results are contained in Section II – Analysis of Program Activity by Strategic Outcome.

Strategic Outcome: Environmental assessment is an integral part of program and policy decision making

Estimated Planned Spending*
($ thousands)

Program Activity:

Efficient and effective environmental assessment

Expected Results:

Environmental assessment:

  1. processes are well coordinated across the federal government and with other jurisdictions;
  2. expertise and operational capacity is maintained and enhanced, and the role of stakeholders and decision makers is supported; and
  3. practices are improved, and increasingly effective mitigation measures are implemented.
Priority Type 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009

No. 1

Build a framework for more integrated envi­ronmental assessments.









No. 2

Assume a more active leadership role in federal environmental assessment.









No. 3

Build the capacity todeliver on existing and new responsibilities.









Total 18,033 16,054 16,054
* 2006-2007 is a transition year to implementation of the November 2005 Cabinet Directive on Implementing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The estimated costs noted above are order of magnitude costs based on the Agency's current level of resources as approved in the Main Estimates and include costs of the Agency's ongoing key programs. Additional resource requirements for full implementation of the Cabinet Directive will be identified in the next Estimates process.

Led by the President, who reports directly to the Minister of the Environment, the Agency is mandated by the following instruments:

  • the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act) and its accompanying regulations;
  • the Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization and bilateral agreements with provincial governments that establish arrangements for cooperative environmental assessments; and
  • international agreements containing environmental assessment provisions to which Canada is a party, principally the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context.

The Agency also assists the Minister of the Environment in implementing the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals by providing guidance to federal authorities on environmental assessment considerations and requirements in respect to proposed policies, plans and programs.

The President of the Agency has been designated by order-in-council as the federal administrator of the environmental and social protection regimes set out in chapters 22 and 23 of the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Agency Plans and Priorities

Program Priorities

Beyond established program activities with respect to federal environmental assessment, a specific focus of the 2006-2007 plans and priorities is better integrating and streamlining of the federal environmental assessment processes.

Amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act through Bill C-9 (October 2003) led the way for consolidating federal environmental assessments. The March 2005, Smart Regulation: Report on Actions and Plans, updated in October 2005, also identified consolidation of environmental assessment as a priority.

The current federal environmental assessment system is based on the principle of self-assessment. Consequently, departments and agencies have their own discrete environmental assessment responsibilities to execute, though often in relation to the same project. The resulting decentralized system has some advantages, but it also has significant shortcomings. Since October 2004, the Agency has been developing options for better integrating federal environmental assessment.

In November 2005, the Cabinet Directive on Implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act took effect. The directive sets out the expectations of ministers regarding the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's leadership role and instructs the Agency and federal authorities on how they should conduct themselves to deliver high-quality environmental assessments in a timely and predictable manner.

The Agency will move forward to discuss opportunities more integrated federal environmental assessments with stakeholders and develop options for Ministers' and potentially Parliament's consideration. As well, efforts will continue to refine and streamline federal-provincial agreements to ensure more integrated environmental assessments.

The Agency has three priorities over this planning period: build a framework for more integrated environmental assessment, assume a more active leadership role in federal environmental assessment and build the capacity to deliver on existing and new responsibilities.

1. Build a framework for more integrated environmental assessment.

In order to be successful in building a unified and more effective environmental assessment process for Canadians, the Agency plans to continue its current work of defining policy directions, consulting with partner departments and stakeholders, examining options for a revised role and mandate and, if necessary, proposing new and/or revised legislation.

2. Assume a more active leadership role in federal environmental assessment.

Stronger Agency leadership will support more timely and effective environmental assessments, enhance the Agency's credibility, let it test operational approaches that reduce fragmentation and lay the groundwork for possible legislative improvements. This includes investing in becoming a centre of expertise on environmental assessment, piloting more integrated approaches to specific projects and activities, and playing a stronger role as the Federal Environmental Assessment Coordinator (FEAC) for other projects.

3. Build the capacity to deliver on existing and new responsibilities.

To move ahead on the first two priorities while meeting existing responsibilities for coordination, guidance and support to panels, etc., the Agency must work actively to develop its internal capacities. This will involve supporting current staff and providing better opportunities for training and development. It will also mean recruiting and integrating new people with needed skills into the Agency. The Agency has developed a comprehensive human resource plan that addresses these issues. Conditional upon receiving incremental resources, the Agency's focus over the planning period will be to implement that plan fully.

Through these three priorities, the Agency will also show increasing leadership in delivering its regular ongoing key programs to its partners and stakeholders. This work includes activities, such as:

  • coordination of the environmental assessment process where the Agency is the FEAC;
  • establishment of a cooperative policy framework and bilateral agreements for the environmental assessment process;
  • facilitation, mediation and management of informal dispute resolutions to address environmental assessment-related issues;
  • management of review panels, comprehensive studies and class screenings, which directly contribute to the integration of environmental factors into the decision-making process for a specific project or class of projects;
  • operation and maintenance of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry (CEAR) on the Internet;
  • promotion of the integration of environmental considerations at the earliest stage of the decision-making process using strategic environmental assessment (SEA);
  • implementation of a quality assurance program; and
  • partner, stakeholder and employee training.

For details on these activities, see Section II – Analysis of Program Activity by Strategic Outcome.

Management Priorities

The Management Accountability Framework (MAF) is an initiative implemented by the Treasury Board Secretariat in 2003 that is used to measure an organization's success in implementing modern management practices. The framework brings together a number of elements of other frameworks, such as the Modern Comptrollership initiative, Human Resources Modernization, the Service Improvement Initiative and Government On-Line.

The Agency has made significant progress in implementing the MAF: a governance structure has been formalized; authorities and delegations have been articulated and communicated to staff; the Policy Framework is in place; the Planning and Performance Reporting (Program Activity Architecture) has been approved and is used in this document; and management and employees have been informed of their responsibilities with respect to public service values and ethics.

There will be a need to refine and update some of the MAF initiatives over the planning period as a result of building a framework for more integrated environmental assessments. Particular focus will be placed on human resources and results and performance evaluation.

Human resource management is another of the Agency's management priorities. Delivering on its three program priorities will bring about new and significant challenges in the management of human resources. The Agency's Human Resources Plan serves as a foundation for integrating business and people management and will be updated regularly.

The Plan is designed to ensure that, for its current and future needs, the right people are in the right place at the right time. An important output of the plan is the design and implementation of a comprehensive employee recruitment and development program.

The Plan's major objectives are to:

  • enable alignment of human resource priorities with business goals;
  • reduce organizational risks related to environmental changes;
  • increase transparency of linkages between human resource activities and business drivers for all stakeholders;
  • identify strategies to foster a flexible and motivating work environment; and
  • provide a framework for human resource modernization.

Program Activity – Efficient and Effective Environmental Assessment

The Agency delivers on its key program responsibilities and addresses its priorities through this program activity.

The Agency plays an important role in providing leadership, guidance, training and recommendations to federal departments and agencies. This helps ensure that environmental assessment decisions comply with the Act, reflect effective and efficient environmental assessment practices, consider public values and support the principles of sustainable development. The Agency also promotes consistent approaches to environmental assessments across Canada and with its international partners. The Agency works with provincial, territorial and local partners to develop cooperative approaches wherever possible. It also fosters engagement with Aboriginal communities.

This important work is carried out within the following key programs:

  1. Coordination and Cooperation: Coordinate the federal environmental assessment process where the Agency is the Federal Environmental Assessment Coordinator (FEAC). This is a major function as is the establishment of a cooperative policy framework and bilateral agreements, particularly with provincial governments, for the environmental assessment process.

    The Agency also has the authority to facilitate, mediate and manage informal dispute resolutions to address environmental assessment-related issues.

  2. Guidance and Operations:
    • Manage review panels and class screenings that directly contribute to the integration of environmental factors into the decision-making process for a specific project or class of projects;
    • Promote the integration of environmental considerations in the development of government policies, plans and programs using SEA;
    • Provide notification through the participant funding program to facilitate stakeholders participation in the environmental assessment process; and
    • Provide training and guidance that supports improved environmental assessment and promote consistent application of the Act.

  3. Continuous Improvement:
    • Gather, analyze and provide environmental assessment performance information to monitor compliance with the Act;
    • Support research and promote continuous learning and development and improvement of environmental assessment practices;
    • Administer the CEAR, which contains information about projects undergoing, and that have undergone, environmental assessment in Canada;
    • Review and develop new policies and regulations in accordance with the provisions of the Act; and
    • Establish and maintain a repository for the results of follow-up programs conducted under the Act.

Agency Operating Environment and Challenges

Protecting the environment, while building a strong economy and improving the quality of life for Canadians is a daily challenge. Environmental assessment responds to this challenge by ensuring environmental effects are considered before decisions are taken which allow projects to proceed.

Under the Act, federal departments and agencies must undertake an environmental assessment before they carry out a project; provide financial assistance to enable a project to be carried out; sell, lease or otherwise transfer control or administration of land to enable a project to be undertaken; or issue certain authorizations to enable a project to go forward. Each year, between 6,000 and 7,000 environmental assessments are conducted under the Act, and since 1995 (the date at which the Act came into effect), over 50,000 projects have been assessed.

Projects subject to environmental assessment or policies subject to strategic environmental assessment often raise important issues associated with socio-economic development, environmental protection, Aboriginal interests and federal–provincial/territorial relations. Environmental assessment must continually adapt to emerging trends, new scientific methods and insights and evolving public expectations and jurisprudence.

The following provides a sense of the issues and challenges the Agency faces in delivering its key programs:

Shared Environmental Management Responsibility

Under the Constitution of Canada, responsibility for environmental management is an area of shared jurisdiction among various orders of government. To minimize duplication and delays, the Agency works with its provincial and territorial counterparts to bring about greater cooperation in environmental assessment, and promote the consistent and predictable application of environmental assessment across Canada. This shared environmental management responsibility is realized by implementing or renewing bilateral agreements, and working with provinces on initiatives that serve to improve the coordinated delivery of environmental assessment processes.

Integrating Competing Interests

Projects subject to environmental assessment often give rise to many sensitive issues related to development, environmental protection, Aboriginal interests and federal-provincial relations. Projects being assessed can often be complex, with competing stakeholder interests. Integrating these interests while maintaining productive relationships and delivering high-quality assessments which meet the expectations of Canadians, is an ongoing challenge.

Aboriginal Peoples

The recognition of Aboriginal self-government and the development of land claim agreements, along with the increasing understanding of government obligations with respect to reasonable consideration and accommodation of Aboriginal interests, are reshaping environmental assessment throughout Canada. Environmental assessment provisions are being negotiated under comprehensive land claims and self-government agreements, including sectoral arrangements. The Agency is working with Aboriginal groups and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to ensure that environmental assessment regimes developed under these agreements and arrangements meet key environmental assessment requirements and take into account specific Aboriginal interests.

The Agency is also considering how best to engage Aboriginal peoples in environmental assessments to be in a position to consider their interests with respect to potential adverse environmental effects. Consistent with legislative changes introduced through Bill C-9, one objective of the Agency is also to consult with Aboriginal peoples on policy issues related to the Act.

Improved Federal Policy Development

The Agency is a strong advocate for the application of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) as a tool to support improved decision making. Since the implementation of the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, federal departments have increasingly recognized the role of this valuable tool in helping to promote sustainable development. In its role to encourage the application of SEA, the Agency will continue to host interdepartmental meetings on the subject, develop guidance documents and provide advice and support to departments and agencies as needed. The Agency will continue to develop its advocacy and advisory role, track national and international developments in the field, and provide leadership to address identified deficiencies in this evolving field of policy research.

International Community

International partnerships give Canada the opportunity to share environmental assessment expertise and, at the same time, access the research being undertaken in other countries. Keeping in step with the environmental initiatives of international organizations and other countries also helps to ensure the competitive position of Canadian exporters. In addition, Canada's international environmental assessment responsibilities must respect foreign policy and trade practices, and ensure consistency with the processes of other countries and organizations. As a party to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, Canada is required to meet the obligations that it subscribed to under the Convention.

Stakeholders and Partners

The Agency works with a wide range of stakeholders and develops partnerships to promote sound environmental assessment practices in Canada and abroad. In support of this work, the Agency maintains and supports several mechanisms for receiving advice and consulting with stakeholders and partners, notably the Minister's Regulatory Advisory Committee, the Senior Management Committee on Environmental Assessment and the Environmental Assessment Administrators Committee. As well, it is developing additional mechanisms for consultation with Aboriginal peoples.

Central to the Agency's mandate is providing all proponents with a timely and predictable process, and access to both the tools and the information they need to comply with the Act. In accordance with the general thrust of the Cabinet Directive on Implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Agency, with the help of federal departments and agencies, will ensure that adequate guidance is available to proponents on the preparation of project descriptions that contain sufficient information to determine the need for a federal environmental assessment and, when required, to initiate efficient conduct of the assessment.

The Agency includes the following among its stakeholders and partners:

Federal Departments, Agencies and Crown Corporations

The Agency administers the federal environmental assessment process. It assists federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations in meeting their obligations under the Act. Through its operational policies and procedures, the Agency improves the way in which environmental assessments are conducted at the federal level. In addition, the Agency works closely with federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations on comprehensive studies, in providing administrative and technical support to review panels and mediators and in developing training and guidance material.

Provincial and Territorial Governments

The Agency works closely with other jurisdictions to coordinate federal and provincial environmental assessment activities, such as joint panel review processes for major projects. It also negotiates federal–provincial framework agreements and works with provincial and territorial governments on all types of environmental assessment processes.

Aboriginal Peoples

The Agency advises Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to ensure that the environmental assessment regimes developed and implemented pursuant to comprehensive land claims agreements, self-government agreements and devolution initiatives, such as the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management, are consistent with the requirements of the Act and can be coordinated with existing environmental assessment regimes.


Central to the Agency's mandate is providing all proponents, including the federal government, with access to the tools and the guidance they need to provide complete information on their projects and the potential adverse environmental effects in order to support the timely and predictable administration of the Act.

Public and Non-Governmental Organizations

The Act promotes the integration of public values in decision making. Accordingly, the Agency seeks to maximize the public's participation throughout the environmental assessment process, and places strong emphasis on transparency and information sharing. The Agency provides participant funding to individuals and non-profit organizations to take part in review panels and comprehensive studies.

Linking Agency Program Activities to Government of Canada Outcomes

The following paragraphs illustrate how the Agency's strategic outcome links to the Government of Canada's performance outcome "sustainable economic growth."

Environmental assessments help Canadians integrate society's environmental goals with its economic, social and cultural values. Project conception, selection and design that is well informed can take into account environmental factors, identify means of achieving more sustainable outcomes and enable sound, integrated decision making. An effective and efficient environmental assessment process provides net ecological, economic and social benefits to society and demonstrates that environmental assessment practice leads to verifiable and durable improvements in environmental quality and community well-being.

Increase in demand for energy is likely to result in more energy-related development projects. Environmental assessment is a useful tool for ensuring that the Government's climate change policies are considered in project development and that projects take into consideration the potential effects of changes in climate.

In a global economy, countries must compete for foreign investment. Environmental sustainability is an emerging basis for competitiveness, with consumers, producers and investors all responding to this change. The efficiency and effectiveness of the environmental assessment process can contribute to a positive view of the country. A more certain, timely and predictable environmental assessment process will also strengthen Canada's investment, climate and international competitiveness.