Canada is at an economic and social tipping point because of our inability to get energy resource infrastructure built. The business community presses for action from federal government

Canada’s resource sector remains a vital driver of our economy, helping to create jobs and economic prosperity not just for those who work in the sector, but for millions of Canadians across the country.  These resources must be developed responsibly and sustainably and we must support the development of the infrastructure required to ship them to markets across Canada and around the world.   

The oil and gas industry is Canada’s largest private investor, $40 billion annually.  Canada is currently struggling to attract investment to the resource sector. Rising costs from increased taxation, a burdensome regulatory environment, and the lack of pipeline infrastructure is negatively affecting our ability to compete for the capital needed to create jobs and national prosperity.

In an effort to resolve some of these issues, the government introduced Bill C-69, a piece of government legislation titled “The modernization of the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).” It seeks to overhaul both the NEBA and CEAA, changing how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada.  The Bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is now in its third reading in Senate.

Although the Canadian Chamber supports the objective of a review and assessment process initiated by the government, the business community has a number of concerns with Bill C69 as it contains flaws that could seriously disadvantage specific sectors. 

As drafted, Bill C69 could lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes. The new bill requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges. Additionally, it gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects

Unless these issues are resolved, the legislation will increase regulatory uncertainty for many of Canada’s resource sectors and their related industries.  This uncertainty will deter investment and undermine economic growth and job creation.  Attempting to deal with the diversity of projects covered by the legislation with a one-size-fits-all legislative solution is doomed to fail.  To achieve its intended purpose, Bill C69 must be flexible enough to address the unique circumstances of all of our resource and infrastructure projects from ports, mining and utilities, to oil and gas, among others. 

Subsequently, the Oakville Chamber is joining other Chambers across the country to call on the government to make amendments to Bill C-69 that will institute a regulatory process that allows for certainty, predictability and transparency to the Bill. This requires clear deadlines, keeping larger national policy discussion separate from the technical project reviews, and respecting provincial jurisdictions.  We are calling on the government to get our energy resources to tidewater, starting by recognizing that the Trans-Mountain Expansion is in the national interest and by expediting its construction in uncontested jurisdictions. 

Pipeline delays and cancellations, open-ended and expensive consultation processes, and general project uncertainty have already scared off a great deal of investment capital and have put many projects at risk.

If this bill is passed without significant amendments, it will create enormous uncertainty, more red tape and increased court challenges. Not only for the energy sector but for virtually every major infrastructure project in Canada for years to come, threatening our economic prosperity.

In a global business environment, it is critical that our regulatory systems balance economic growth with environmental protection and that our elected government create the conditions for that sustainable growth.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy