Bill S-6, Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act: Proposed Amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA)

Bill S-6 aims to further unlock the economic potential of the North while ensuring sound environmental stewardship and helping the territories remain an attractive place in which to live, work and invest.

The amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act will enhance, improve, and modernize Northern regulatory regimes and ensure consistency with other regulatory regimes across the North and in the rest of Canada.

Yukon

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) was established in 2003 in fulfilment of an obligation in the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement, which required a mandatory review of YESAA within five years of it becoming law.

The proposed amendments to YESAA reflect agreed upon recommendations from the five-year review and also implement the Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes. These amendments align the regulatory regime in Yukon with the other two territories. The proposed amendments to YESAA would promote jobs, growth and long-term prosperity and help to further unlock the economic potential of Yukon.

Some of the proposed amendments to YESAA would:

  • provide the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the authority to provide binding policy direction to the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board, to equip the Government of Canada to communicate expectations on matters such as board conduct, use of new technology, and fulfilment of roles and responsibilities related to Aboriginal consultation;
  • introduce legislated time limits for assessments consistent with other federal environmental assessment legislation;
  • allow for a board member’s term to be extended for the purpose of completing a screening or review to ensure both quorum and continuity;
  • enable the Government of Canada to develop cost recovery regulations so that costs incurred for public reviews are borne by the proponents of development projects and not the taxpayer; and
  • reduce regulatory burden by clarifying that a project need not undergo another assessment when a project authorization is to be renewed or amended unless, in the opinion of the decision body or bodies, there is a significant change to the project.

Formal consultations on the proposed amendments were held between May 2013 and May 2014. The Council of Yukon First Nations, individual First Nations, the Yukon Government and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board took part in discussions throughout the YESAA five-year review process and subsequent consultations. Other key stakeholders, such as industry, were also consulted.

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