The Canadian business environment has undergone many transformations since the government was formed. There have been proposal and policies developed to change the business environment for the better economy. Some of the proposals have succeeded while others have flopped. They have faced numerous support as well as objections from leading economists and analysts of the business environment.
The move by the federal government is not a surprise. The federal government proposal to overhaul the environmental review process is another policy that wants to change the business environment. This involves the natural resources and all projects that are undertaken in this line. This is a proposal that was announced in the budget. It involves implementing defined timelines, and handing over of some reviews. The reviews are handed over to the provinces in order to have fewer resources. This helps in examining the small projects that are in place.
The government move to legislate the project reviews in a given time line has not gone down well with some environmental groups. The Finance Minister, while, reading the budget, acknowledged that, although the process of review can take many years, the projects will not be abandoned. This is inconsideration to the expenses that are involved.
In the mean time, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Natural Resources have criticized the radical environmental and “foreign money” groups. They claim these groups are attempting to hijack the hearings of regulation with the aim of derailing the major projects. This claim can not be true as there are issues that are involved in the litigation.
The government move to eliminate duplication on environment reviews can be a good gesture. This can give more certainty to companies that invest billions of dollars in the country. The move can help expand the Canada energy export market. The mining and petroleum projects can, therefore, expand beyond the traditional US markets. The governments move to limit the joint panel environmental review to 24 months is a good gesture. In addition, the National Energy Board hearings are proposed to 18 months, while the standards environmental assessments are to be for one year.
The provincial environmental assessments will be recognized by the government. These are the ones that deal with resource projects and are comparable to federal assessments. The decisions will also be transferred from the capital to other jurisdictions. The comment by Green party leader that the government has weakened some review process can be true. This is what is making the government cut the budget of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by 40 percent.
In addition, the streamlining of the regulation process for the main resource projects is an attempt of reviewing environmental laws. This process is to fast tract the projects without reviewing the environmental impacts, according to Mary the Green party leader. These changes bring the question of whether the environmental oversight will be sufficiently provided for n the reviews.
The rejection of the 2010 proposal by the federal government that was approved by the B.C government gives the reviews a challenge. However, the government has dedicated about $14 million in the budget. The money is for integrated consultations with the native people for the project reviews. This will run for two yeas. Another $13.5 million will be spent to increase gas and oil pipeline inspection for over two years. Additional cash are to be allocated for tanker inspections and processes that will aid in shortening the review period.
The acknowledgment by the government that there are several projects that have been delayed due to regulatory burden brings into focus this review process. Therefore, the reduction of the regulatory burden is a crucial element to provide certainty in the business environment, in Canada. This will help in providing decisions for the multi-dollar investors.