Many of the federal environmental law rollbacks put Canadians’ health and livelihoods at risk. For example, over 100,000 people are employed in Canada's commercial fishing industry, and in 2010, recreational fishing contributed $8.3 billion to local economies. Reduced legal protection of fish and fish habitat under the Fisheries Act and the lifting of legal protection from over 99% of Canada’s lakes and rivers puts these jobs and economies in peril.
But it’s not only fishing industries affected by the changes. One important function of environmental assessments should be to ask the question, “how will this project affect the diversity and number of jobs in the region?” Not all jobs are equal, nor will they all last the same number of years or be suited to everybody. Many projects purport to bring a large number of jobs to a region, only to have it surface in an environmental assessment that many of those jobs would go to those from outside the region and that existing local jobs would be lost due to the project’s impacts. Boom and bust cycles can devastate communities, and environmental assessments are one important way a leading means of avoiding them. The new CEAA 2012 scrapped thousands of environmental assessments and restricts when socio-economic impacts will get considered, meaning true impacts on livelihoods and communities can be ignored.