Expert Panel report on environmental assessment review – an overview

Catherine McKenna and Johanne Gelinas

Environment & Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna with EA Review Expert Panel Chair Johanne Gélinas (Photo: Anna Johnston).

On April 5th, the federal government released the report of the Expert Panel that has been reviewing Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) processes. The report, Building Common Ground: A new vision for impact assessment in Canada, sets out a bold new vision of how the government should weigh options and make decisions about proposals that could affect the health of the environment and Canadians.

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Will the Canadian government “restore lost protections” for navigable waters?

The review of the Navigation Protection Act is an opportunity to strengthen legal protection for navigation and the environment on all navigable lakes and rivers. (Photo: Arlen Tees).

The Liberal Party of Canada was elected in part on the basis of a promise to restore lost environmental protections – including reviewing the “elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act” in order to “restore lost protections and incorporate more modern safeguards.”  On March 23rd the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transportation reported on the results of its review, and made a series of recommendations related to Canada’s laws related to navigable waters. 

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Back to schools: Canada’s fish happy with new report, look forward to amended law

Fish across Canada breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the top recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and Oceans’ report reviewing the Fisheries Act: to reinstate strong habitat protection for fish.

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Environmental assessment review: Considering climate change in environmental assessments

Part 5 in a series of guest blog posts by Ecojustice.

Photo: Adina Raul

We are now on our fifth and final presentation to the Expert Panel tasked with reviving Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) process.

You’ve heard from many of my colleagues about our overarching message: The EA process in Canada is broken and needs an overhaul. We can no longer make small changes. The EA process needs nothing less than a paradigm shift towards long-term sustainable policies and plans that promote the strongest possible contributions to lasting environmental wellbeing.

This month, I spoke to the Panel about the need for meaningful consideration of climate change impacts into the EA process. 

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Environmental assessment review: Ensuring environmentally significant projects are meaningfully assessed to promote sustainability and social justice

 Part 4 in a series of guest blog posts by Ecojustice.

Photo: Nass River, BC (Stephen Zopf)

Since October, you’ve heard about our presentations to the Expert Panel considering how to revamp Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) laws.

In late November, my colleague, Barry Robinson, spoke to the Expert Panel about decision making in the EA process.

I spoke to the Panel in Toronto about the need for better screening measures and broader scoping of assessments, and stressed why we need to start incorporating environmental justice principles in EA process.

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Environmental assessment law reform: Judicial review and decision making

 Part 3 in a series of guest blog posts by Ecojustice.

Photo: 604-250

Over the years, you’ve heard us say time and again that environmental assessment (EA) law in Canada is broken and needs some big changes. When we heard the Expert Panel reviewing the law was seeking public input, we jumped at the opportunity.

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Environmental assessment review: The importance of clarity and how to address uncertainty

Part 2 in a series of guest blog posts by Ecojustice.

Photo: Óðinn


We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) processes are broken and in need of re-envisioning. There must be a shift from simply mitigating a project’s adverse impacts to a process that focuses on long-term sustainable policies, plans and projects that promote the strongest possible contributions to lasting wellbeing.

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Environmental assessment law reform: Follow-up and monitoring + compliance and enforcement = key

Part 1 in a series of guest blog posts by Ecojustice.


Photo: Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Ecojustice has worked with federal environmental assessment (EA) law in its various forms for more than 20 years. These experiences have given us many clear examples of how Canada’s EA process is broken and in need of major changes.

Earlier this year, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change established an Expert Panel to review federal EA processes. This Expert Panel intends to engage broadly with Indigenous people, key stakeholders, and all Canadians.

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A Review of the Review of Reviews: A Participants’ Guide to the Federal EA Review

This fall, Canadians are invited to take part in a public review of federal environmental assessment processes.
Photo: Jamie McCaffrey

In mid-September, an expert panel appointed by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change (the Panel) launched a public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes (the EA Review). While the Panel and its secretariat have attempted to broadcast how the public and Indigenous groups can participate in the EA Review, many people remain either unaware of it or uncertain whether or how to be involved.

If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place.

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How will we build the next generation of environmental assessment for Canada?

This June, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that she will establish an independent expert panel to review Canada’s environmental assessment processes under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and opened up a 30-day public comment period on the Panel’s draft Terms of Reference.

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Federal EA Reform EA Summit Have Your Say