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View Pierre Jacob Profile
Thank you, dear colleague.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I also wish to thank the witnesses for being here with us this afternoon.
According to Bill C-481, which I sponsored, the Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act (duty to examine), bills must be examined by the Minister of Justice in order to verify whether they are compatible with the Federal Sustainable Development Act. If they are not compatible, the minister informs the House of Commons as promptly as possible. My bill extends the scope of the spirit of the Federal Sustainable Development Act so that it applies to all bills.
However, last June 4, you said that you would not support Bill C-481 because you felt it added a redundant level of oversight. You stated essentially that the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Sustainable Development Office already ensure that our departments and legislation respect the parameters of sustainable development.
Can you explain to us how the Federal Sustainable Development Act sees to it that the House of Commons ensures that all bills are in compliance with the principles of sustainable development?
View Peter Kent Profile
Thank you, and thank you for an accurate summary of what I said, and for your concerns.
Your private member's bill is still being considered. Certainly, as with all private members' bills, we on the government side will listen to the debate and we will be informed by different points of view.
But as I said at committee a couple of weeks ago, our first impression is that it would add a great legislative burden. It would add a redundant examination of laws, which our government is focused on eliminating. We're trying to end duplication and redundancy and to cut red tape, while at the same time maintaining and applying the federal sustainable development strategy to achieve the outcomes it was intended to achieve.
Again, as I said two weeks ago, we are still in the very early years of the application of the strategy. As time goes on and we do the periodic reviews of how the strategy is working or not working, perhaps some suggestions or variations of the suggestions made in your private member's bill would return for consideration.
View François Choquette Profile
In this committee, we have only examined Bill S-15. All of the other legislative measures which concerned the environment were studied in the context of omnibus bills.
Can you promise us that the next bills on the environment which amend the act will be referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, so that we may be able to our work?
View Peter Kent Profile
I can't give a yes or no. As you know, the government House leader determines, in consultation with cabinet, the composition of legislation.
Last year was an exceptional year that included CEAA, 2012. We continue to be open to discuss and to consider improvements. As you know, this year there have not been a great number of.... As a matter of fact, I don't think we have had any Environment Canada legislation. There has been associated legislation, but that's a matter of the whole of government.
Perhaps the committee should consider calling those ministers who are responsible for tangential responsibilities in respect to the environment to discuss things such as navigable waters.
Priscilla Gareau
View Priscilla Gareau Profile
Priscilla Gareau
2013-06-06 8:49
Hello, my name is Priscilla Gareau. I have a doctorate in environmental studies and I am the director of the environmental group Ambioterra.
We are very grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the conservation and protection of biodiversity in Canada.
Ambioterra is a not-for-profit charity organization. The board of directors is elected by the members. We work in the south of Quebec, more specifically in certain sub-watersheds of the Châteauguay River, which is part of the Upper St. Lawrence Valley or the St. Lawrence Plain.
We are also a member of Quebec's Club and Small Percidae Recovery Team. As I was saying, we work in the south of Quebec where the highest level of biodiversity is found. It's like Ontario, in fact. The two regions are similarly rich in biodiversity. Unfortunately, these are also areas where there is the most urbanization and farming. It is often in these areas where the risks are greatest, compared to the north of Quebec.
Another unique feature of our territory is that 95% of it is privately owned. There is practically no publicly owned land. This is why we mostly work together with private landowners. This territory is compartmentalized, making biodiversity protection even more difficult. Moreover, there are many landowners, and they are not as well informed as the federal, provincial and municipal authorities. Clearly, these authorities are better informed on endangered species and biodiversity since they are the policy-makers.
This leads me to our first recommendation. It reads as follows:
That the national conservation plan put a particular emphasis on the methods, programs and tax incentives necessary to encourage landowners to protect habitat, biodiversity, and especially species at risk.
The landowners are very open. Given that we receive most of our funding from the federal and provincial governments, particularly through the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk and the program Partenaires pour la nature. This allows us to advise the landowners and update them on the federal and provincial initiatives that help them protect their natural heritage. Of course, if they had to pay for such consultations, the natural heritage would not be protected. They have neither the necessary means nor the expertise.
To carry out our projects, we use the ecosystem approach which Environment Canada has been promoting since the 1990s along with a number of researchers. This approach requires that interventions and policies be thought out taking into account the spatial and temporal skills of the characteristics of natural components. I will explain this concept to you in more concrete terms. We, the human beings, establish the regions in an administrative fashion. Each region is considered a unit of territory. However, the watershed of the Châteauguay that I referred to is considered to be in another category. In the case of this watershed, the federal and provincial governments as well as a number of regional county municipalities and the municipalities intervene. Currently, policies often do not take into account the natural components.
For example, the regional county municipalities are in charge of the waterway development plans. However, the regional county municipality (RCM) that is downstream must deal with the consequences of activities carried out by the RCM that is upstream. The downstream RCM must pay the price for any harmful activities carries out by the upstream RCM. That is why we devise our plans according to the watershed as a unit of territory.
In any case, the federal government has implemented a number of examples of the ecosystem approach, for example the St. Lawrence Action Plan, the priority intervention zones and the Great Lakes projects, which date back almost 30 years.
I suspect that a previous speaker has already defined what a watershed is. Basically, it is not just the waterway itself, it is also all of the land and waters that drain into it. For example, because the St. Lawrence River is massive and covers almost all of Quebec, it cannot be studied as one watershed. It has to be subdivided. Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are inseparable, as they are in constant interaction.
This leads us to our second recommendation:
That the national conservation plan include measures to protect not only terrestrial areas, but also aquatic areas, both freshwater and marine.
We work with most of the stakeholders in our area. As I mentioned, a number of federal departments are involved, such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Agriculture Canada and Environment Canada. It's the same thing at the provincial level.
However, we find in the field that the third level of government, the municipal level, is not very familiar with provincial and federal policies. So there is a lack of communication among the three levels of government. In our opinion, it is important to bring the municipal level more on board. For example, the municipalities are completely unaware of the existence of the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk developed by the federal government, under the auspices of COSEWIC, and do not incorporate it into their land management plan.
As a small local and regional group, we can try to advocate, but it is quite difficult, given our limited means. As I already said, private property owners are completely unaware of existing policies and how they could benefit from them, including through their taxes, if they protected their natural heritage.
The municipalities wield tremendous power over land use, at least in Quebec. I suspect it's the same for the other provinces, though the names of the planning tools may vary. Quebec has established development plans for the regional county municipalities and land use plans that the municipalities have to take into account. Unfortunately, a small municipality of little means and no budget may only be able to afford an inspector one day a week. Clearly, that inspector will not be able to do many inspections to enforce the rules and policies.
This brings us to our third recommendation:
That the national plan grants a larger place to municipal entities, as was adopted at the COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity [...] which specifies that efforts must be made to increase the involvement of municipal authorities in the protection of biodiversity. In this context, it would be appropriate to review the financing of the Green Municipal Fund (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) so as to develop a specific program for the protection of biodiversity.
This is just one of many examples.
In August 2012, Environment Canada introduced the biodiversity goals and targets stemming from the Aichi Strategic Plan, adopted by the signatory countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Note that on page 8, goal A includes Canada's waters, thereby reinforcing our previous position in favour of the inclusion of bodies of water in a national conservation plan.
It is not our intention to review each of the biodiversity goals and targets identified by the Government of Canada. However, it seems to us that certain of them should be clarified, made more binding, and incorporated in a more specific implementation schedule.
This brings us to our fourth recommendation:
That the national conservation plan clarify its goals, objectives, targets, results indicators and allotted budget, incorporating them in a predetermined implementation schedule, so that everything is grounded in the rules of result-based management as promoted by the Government of Canada for its grant recipients. [...]
In order to run a program properly, we ourselves should have a schedule that sets out our goals and means, our results, our deadlines and our allotted budgets.
[...] Furthermore, everything should be based on the current state of scientific knowledge and on an ecosystem approach, including the precautionary principle.
Lastly, we are convinced that the voluntary approach is necessary and beneficial, and we use it every day. However, we are also convinced that enforcement is complementary to the voluntary approach. Unfortunately, there will always be certain stakeholders who do not want to participate voluntarily in habitat protection. It is therefore clear that without the enforcement of legislation governing destructive practices, the deterioration of Canada's natural environments will continue.
Note that harmonization is important. Each level of government must enforce regulations. Take, for example, a farmer who complies with the regulations, but whose neighbour does not. When we make contact, that farmer is going to ask us what good it does to protect the environment and comply with the regulations if the neighbour does not, and the authorities do not enforce the regulations. That is extremely important.
This brings us to our fifth recommendation:
That the national legislative framework for the protection and conservation of natural environments and species at risk be maintained and improved. An assessment of the application of laws and regulations by the various parties involved in biodiversity protection is necessary in order to identify the points requiring improvement.
I am going to conclude my presentation by sharing with you our final recommendations, without any contextual information, because I have already gone over my time limit.
That funding programs for the protection of habitat and biodiversity, such as the Habitat Stewardship Program, be maintained and improved.
That responses to funding applications be sent out no more than 5 months after the applications are filed, i.e., in April of each year, out of consideration for the intrinsic characteristics of the work related to collection of conservation data, which has to be conducted mainly in the spring and summer.
That in the interest of transparency, letters denying applications for funding that are sent out by Environment Canada specify the criteria and the scoring for each of those criteria which were responsible for the decision made.
That summarizes our positions.
We commend the work of the committee and thank you for your attention.
View Megan Leslie Profile
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-04 9:08
That is good news. As you know, my colleague Pierre Jacob, who is the member for Brome—Missisquoi, introduced a bill on sustainable development.
Would you and the government support a bill that would require a mandatory review of proposed acts and regulations in order to ensure that they do not conflict with the objectives of the Federal Sustainable Development Act?
View Peter Kent Profile
Sure. I'm glad to address that.
Certainly the objective of your colleague's bill is worthy. I will not support it because it adds a level of bureaucracy and redundant oversight, which I'm quite convinced is unnecessary given the ability of our government today through the FSDS, through the sustainable development office, to ensure that all departments and all legislation falls within the parameters of sustainable development.
View François Choquette Profile
You also spoke about the importance of having some clearer points, of having greater transparency and measurable development. One of my colleagues, Mr. Pierre Jacob, tabled a bill which would require that all federal legislation respect the principles of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
Would something like that constitute a good solution that would allow us to have more measurable sustainable development?
Neil Maxwell
View Neil Maxwell Profile
Neil Maxwell
2013-06-04 10:23
Thank you for the question.
I met with Mr. Jacob to discuss his bill. In theory, we support the idea of always taking sustainable development considerations into account when decisions are made. It is a very important aspect of this concept of sustainable development, that is to say
the integrated decision-making.
In principle, we do not support such bills because that is a political question, but
the principle is a very important one.
Gary Collins
View Gary Collins Profile
Gary Collins
2013-05-30 17:07
I've spent time in elected public office and I've spent time in business. I have found it fascinating trying to relate public policy at the board table level in business and trying to relate business to political leaders. I sometimes feel as if I'm translating ancient Greek into Mandarin or something. They have very different environments and different cultures, but both manage risk.
I think when business manages risk, they look at what they have. They're always trying to grow their business, and trying to do that in a profitable way. They look at the risks that are available to them or the risks that are in front of them, and then they determine how to allocate that capital.
In the United States, you can amortize that investment over a much larger market. The U.S. market is immense. It's the single largest market, I guess. The European Community is very large as well. I think that's why U.S. businesses see the upside of that capital investment and that risk-taking to be immense. The downside is you can only go to zero. In Canada, it's often a challenge to grow a business, given our interprovincial non-tariff trade barriers. We sometimes downplay that impact, but it's often very difficult to do business across jurisdictions in Canada.
If I had one thing to advise or to suggest as a public policy initiative.... On the books of 10 provinces, three territories, and the federal government, there are, literally, thousands of pieces of legislation and millions of regulations. The vast majority were drafted and implemented before the Internet existed. Given my time in public office, one of the things I found most advantageous was to make sure that we made it easy for business to take their capital and invest it and minimize their risk. One of the ways we can do that is to make it easier to do business and to modernize our regulations and our legislation.
So I think one of the simplest things—I shouldn't say it's simple, it's very difficult, but one of the biggest things that government could do to advance Internet technology and the risk-taking by entrepreneurs that needs to happen in the economy is to make sure an obstacle is not being created just because we haven't got around to modernizing the legislation and regulations.
Mike Dungate
View Mike Dungate Profile
Mike Dungate
2013-05-30 12:10
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and committee members.
Thank you for inviting us to talk to you about animal care today. I've provided you with a brief. I'm not going to read through the whole brief. I'll hit some high points—I know we're a little tight on time—and we'll allow some discussion.
Raising healthy birds in a humane way is important to Canadian chicken farmers, as it is to those who purchase chicken for their families. Canadian consumers have demonstrated their interest in being able to purchase high-quality Canadian chicken, and Canada's chicken farmers are proud to raise safe, local, home-grown chicken that consumers are asking for.
Our industry is a significant financial contributor to both rural and urban economies in this country. From farm to plate, we generate jobs in farming, processing, transportation, retail, restaurants, and more, and all of this is done without government subsidies. We have 2,700 chicken farmers across the country and 185 processors. Together, they sustain 56,000 jobs and contribute $6.5 billion to Canada's GDP. We pay $1.3 billion in taxes, and we also help our fellow grain farmers by purchasing 2.5 million tonnes of feed a year.
In sum, we're part of Canada's economic solution.
Today, I want to talk about four key areas: our animal care program; how we collaborate as an industry on animal welfare issues; the renewal of government regulations related to animal care; and finally, I'll talk about a couple of recommendations that we will present to the committee for their consideration.
In terms of CFC's animal care program, we implemented the program in 2009, really looking at a five-year implementation period. The key part here is to have a uniform high level of standards across the country. In this regard, the Chicken Farmers of Canada signed an MOU with all 10 provincial boards in July 2012. The reason is that we do all the auditing at a provincial level and we need to make sure that gets done on a consistent basis.
All our farmers are audited annually. I think that's a key part of this program. It may be voluntary at this stage—although we have seven provinces that have made it mandatory so far, and we're working on that further. The key part is we're going to audit and certify farmers, and 80% of our farmers are certified on the program to date. That's a quick uptake, because we've had experience on the food safety side in a similar program.
On the food safety side, in March, Minister Ritz named us as the first sector to have third-party official recognition from CFIA and all federal, provincial, and territorial governments for our program. What we've done is we've combined the auditing structure between our food safety program and our animal care program. We are serious about making sure we put in place not just a program that is there and that hopefully farmers will implement; we're going on farms to audit it.
In terms of the credibility of the program, it's supported not only by our industry partners—the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, the Further Poultry Processors, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers—but also by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. We've worked very hard on this program. We've made sure it is something we can be proud of and we're going to continue to push.
As I noted in our submission, there will be stricter stocking densities that will come into effect on December 1 of this year. That is the five-year implementation adjustment for farmers to have new, stricter density requirements.
In terms of industry collaboration, we don't just see animal welfare as an issue on the farm. It goes beyond the farm, right up to processing, so we work with our industry partners. In that regard, we have completed recommended best practices for poultry care from the farm to processing, and that was completed last year. We also support the Canadian Livestock Transport certification program.
I believe you had a chance to hear from the National Farm Animal Care Council earlier this week. We are a founding member of that organization. We think it provides a unique opportunity to have researchers, animal welfare advocates, industry, and government all at the table discussing that. A key part for us is the codes of practice. While some might say they're voluntary codes of practice, they form the backbone. Based on those voluntary codes, we develop the codes in our program, which is auditable. Without that, and without what I'll call a global approval perspective, we wouldn't be able to do what we do on our farms. That's a key part, those codes of practice.
The latest code that was done was our own, but we're now in the renewal process. Because we were the latest to have it, we're last in line. Some of the funding under the current AgriStability program will run out before we get there, so we think it's important that there's continued funding for these codes of practice in Growing Forward 2.
The last piece in terms of industry collaboration is research. It's an integral part of what we're doing. We want these codes updated because there's new science, there are new innovations that happen, and we want to bring them in and update the codes as we move forward.
I think it's important to know that a key priority in research at the Canadian Poultry Research Council, of which we're a member, is animal welfare. In fact, 45% of our $6 million Growing Forward 2 research cluster proposal is dedicated to poultry welfare research.
Tina Widowski is going to talk about the Poultry Welfare Centre at Guelph. We see that as a key centre of excellence in where that research takes place. We have very few animal welfare researchers in this country, and I think it's important that the capacity we have is maintained.
I'll go to page 5 on renewal of government regulations.
We raise 600 million chickens a year on our farms, so we have a lot of birds in our care. The transportation mortality is less than 0.3%. I think the key part here is that we think the transportation regulations need to be modified, as does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. This is something about which there was some consultation back in 2006, and that's the last time our comments were incorporated. As we go forward and look at these again, we want to make sure we have an opportunity to provide new comments—fresh—when they go back and look at this. There's been a lot of science and research that's gone on in the interim, and we think it's important that CFIA hear about that.
One of the things we see right now is a bit of confusion in the current transportation regulations, on-the-ground enforcement. Part of that is that the system has really been done on an individual animal basis. It has really been taken from the red meat sector and applied to poultry. We think we need to approach it as we do everything, from a flock perspective as opposed to an individual bird perspective.
We also think there needs to be room for corrective actions. You have them in the meat regulations, where if something is offside and needs to be corrected, there's a process to take corrective action. Right now, under transport, there's an immediate monetary penalty, rather than saying let's improve the system we have, let's take corrective actions, and let's make sure we have compliance going forward.
I've run through as quickly as I can, Mr. Chairman.
I'll finish up by saying that we look forward to a recognition program for food safety programs, the same as you have on the food safety side. We would like to see the government have that similar type of thing between federal-provincial-territorial governments on the animal care program side. We think that third-party recognition would give credibility to what we're doing on farms.
Second, we think there needs to be financial support to the National Farm Animal Care Council for the codes of practice. That needs to continue in Growing Forward 2.
We believe there needs to be government support for animal care researchers. We're not asking the government to do all the research. We're asking the government to work with us, and make sure they have researchers in place. We're investing in research significantly, and we need to keep doing that.
Lastly, on the transportation regulations, we'd like a full stakeholder consultation to renew from 2006 to today, and we look forward to that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to talk to you today.
Pierre Gratton
View Pierre Gratton Profile
Pierre Gratton
2013-05-30 8:47
Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the committee, clerk, and fellow attendees. As you've just mentioned, I'm Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada. We're the national voice of the mining and mineral processing industry. Ben Chalmers, who is with me, is our vice-president of sustainable development and is responsible for implementing our “towards sustainable mining” initiative. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and share some of our perspectives on habitat conservation in Canada.
For a bit of additional background, I sat on the B.C. species at risk task force a few years ago while president of the Mining Association of B.C. The task force was a multi-stakeholder group that included Peter Robinson, president of the David Suzuki Foundation. Established by former premier Gordon Campbell, the task force reached consensus and submitted both a description and an analysis of the shortcomings of the federal Species at Risk Act as well as a suite of recommendations for the province on how to improve its approach to species at risk protection. I encourage the committee to read the task force's report if you haven't done so, as well as the government's response, which was recently published.
In 2011, the mining industry employed 320,000 workers, paid $9 billion in taxes and royalties to provincial and federal governments, and accounted for 23% of Canada's overall export value. Mining is proportionately the largest private sector employer of aboriginal people and an enabler of many successful aboriginal-owned businesses. Critical to many rural and remote communities, mining also generates prosperity in our major cities, notably Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon. Each of which serves as a centre for global mining excellence for various types of mining.
Looking forward, proposed, planned, and in-place mining projects in Canada amount upwards of $140 billion in investment over the next five to 10 years. Across the country, major projects are seen in mined oil sands, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, and diamonds, among other sectors, with large investments also occurring in environmental and processing areas.
To enable the industry to become an even stronger contributor to Canadian prosperity, industry needs an effective, enabling regulatory environment. In the brief we submitted to you, however, we focused not just on what we need government to do but also on what we are doing. We describe in our brief our members' commitment to biodiversity conservation demonstrated through implementation of our towards sustainable mining initiative, or TSM. TSM is a condition of MAC membership and involves public reporting and third-party verification of performance against a suite of performance indicators, including three that address biodiversity conservation. We also highlight for you a few examples of how some of our member companies are putting TSM into practice on the ground.
We focus on TSM because we would like you to understand how mining operates today and the kinds of systems that are in place to address issues such as biodiversity conservation. It is important context to guide government legislative and regulatory action.
When it comes to issues such as habitat conservation or species at risk protection, we believe that regulation that enables collaboration between different stakeholders will be the most effective. It's a different operating environment from, for example, pollution control where the source is clear as is the responsibility. When it comes to decisions involving land use there are multiple players and shared responsibilities. Hence, the regulatory approach should be different. Approaches that are too prescriptive and force land users into silos run a serious risk of failure and potential conflict.
The Fisheries Act, for example, has in the past compelled mine sites to create artificial and expensive on-site fish habitat that contributes little to enhanced fish populations and biodiversity, and may, in fact, work against both. We are cautiously optimistic that a new, more flexible approach to offsets by Fisheries and Oceans will enable more creative solutions to compensate for the, at times, temporary loss of fish habitat caused by new mining projects. Recently, for example, we are aware of Fisheries and Oceans accepting the repair and replacement of blocked and/or damaged culverts near the mine site as part of an offset plan. These actions, simple and cost-effective, will contribute to healthier fish populations overall, even though this activity is outside the mine lease. By allowing such flexibility, the government also enables industry to work more closely with local communities, including first nations, to identify and collaborate on local priorities, which also helps to foster social licence.
We also comment in our brief on the shortcomings, and frankly, the disappointment of the Species At Risk Act. When originally conceived, SARA was intended to foster stewardship and collaboration on the ground. Indeed, the front end of the act outlines the opportunities for concluding conservation agreements to enable industry, aboriginal, and local communities and governments to protect species and enhance their habitats. This is section 11.
Regrettably, the implementation of SARA has failed to capitalize on these aspects, at least to date. It has always been our view that collaboration involving land users, be they private land owners or tenants, will be the most effective approach to protect species and assist in their recovery.
A founding principle of the Species at Risk Working Group, an independent multi-stakeholder coalition of which MAC was a part—and I note we have two other organizations here today that were also part of this group a number of years ago—was that for species at risk protection to succeed, actions must work for species and for people. Conservation efforts should not place an undue burden on land users, as species at risk protection is a public good.
Instead, government resources have been directed almost entirely to the development of recovery plans, identification of critical habitat, and prescriptive critical habitat protection. Furthermore, a failure to meet the act's timelines for recovery plans has led to litigation. There is a concern that the avoidance of litigation is now driving decision-making, detracting from the act's real objective, which is to protect species at risk and support their recovery.
SARA's single-species approach has also precluded a more integrated ecosystem-based approach that would recognize and plan for the fact that species do not exist in isolation. A species-by-species approach, which adds to the financial cost of administering the act, also limits the potential for more landscape-, multi-species-, ecosystem-based approaches that hold the promise of greater effectiveness, lower costs, and lower impacts on land users.
“Single-species approaches can also have perverse outcomes, with society picking “winners” based on visibility or iconic status while ignoring “losers” that could be equally or more functionally important.” I lifted that line from B.C.'s Species At Risk Task Force report, which I thought was a really compelling one.
There is clearly a need for better federal-provincial coordination on species protection and recovery. For many resource sectors, including mining, the provinces are the primary regulator. The provinces are typically better placed to manage land-based decisions, which could be informed and enabled by federal legislative requirements under SARA.
Finally, we are concerned that a narrow focus on critical habitat protection as the only tool for protecting species at risk will needlessly sterilize the land base from responsible economic development, when other options might be available of equal or potentially superior effect. We recognize that at times critical habitat protection or no-go zones may be the only tool available to ensure survival of a species at risk, but blunt instruments such as this should be used sparingly and selectively.
Major projects, such as mines, are subject to full environmental reviews at both federal and provincial levels. Recent reforms to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act have not reduced the application to mining, although there have been meaningful and effective improvements to process and timelines. Today, mining represents some 70% of current federal environmental assessments.
CEAA requires consideration of impacts of a mining project on listed species at risk; thus environmental assessment ensures that mines are developed with knowledge of potential impacts on species and their critical habitats as well as of other environmental considerations. This process also ensures that mines are built with appropriate mitigation and compensation measures, if required. Mines are heavily regulated at the provincial level, with permits required for all aspects, including road construction, water use and release, tailings and waste rock management and disposal, and reclamation. Further, mines built by members of MAC will include implementation of TSM.
In this context, what becomes important is ensuring sufficient legislative and regulatory flexibility to encourage sensible and creative approaches to environmental management. Objectives-based rather than overly prescriptive legal instruments encourage better outcomes and foster collaboration with other stakeholders.
Our industry willingly partners with other groups active on the land base, in particular with aboriginal communities. Collective approaches reach farther and combine the traditional knowledge and scientific expertise of different partners. In our experience, local communities of interest, including habitat conservation groups with an interest in the outcome and with a connection to the land and its resources, can—given time, resources, and an enabling environment—form the strongest and the most effective and enduring partnerships.
The federal government can create conditions that enable and foster positive biodiversity outcomes by pursuing an outcomes-based approach. Rigid, prescriptive legislation and regulations have in the past contributed to perverse outcomes that should be avoided. An outcomes-based approach would support and enhance efforts by the mining industry to positively contribute to biodiversity conservation through initiatives such as TSM, would foster local collaboration and partnerships, and would reduce conflict.
Thank you, we look forward to your questions.
View Kirsty Duncan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Now I'm going to ask each of the industry organizations whether you believe in evidence-based decision-making.
Mr. Hubert?
Mark Hubert
View Mark Hubert Profile
Mark Hubert
2013-05-30 9:55
Yes, absolutely. When you compare and contrast that with things such as the precautionary principle, we all need to be proceeding with a measure of caution as we implement policies or regulations, given that science is sometimes inconclusive and always developing. But when we take a look at what we're trying to achieve, which are outcomes and results, the degree to which we can be taking information and learning from what has worked and what hasn't, that should shape our approach forward.
Jim Burpee
View Jim Burpee Profile
Jim Burpee
2013-05-30 9:56
I think that's what we do today. All our plans would have that in there.
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