Friday, October 13, 2023
ICBA ‘Thrilled’ with C-69 Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Provincial Powers
SURREY – This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Impact Assessment Act, formerly known as Bill C-69, is unconstitutional. The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA Alberta) is calling the decision an unequivocal victory for Canada’s economy and workers.
“We are thrilled with this decision and what it means for the men and women who work in the construction and energy industries, their families, and every Canadian. We all benefit from Canada’s responsibly-produced natural resources, major projects and infrastructure,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “The Impact Assessment Act was an overreach by the federal government, and damaged Canada’s economy and prosperity, by driving away investment and creating uncertainty.”
ICBA supported the Province of Alberta as an intervenor in the case during Supreme Court of Canada hearings.
“It was important to add the voice of construction and resource workers to Alberta’s case,” said Gardner. “It would have been irresponsible to simply sit on the sidelines and hope for the best in something as damaging to the economic prosperity of Canada as this Act was.”
The Impact Assessment Act (or “No-Pipelines Act”, as critics referred to it) inserted the federal government into environmental assessment processes for major energy projects, even though those powers are assigned to the provinces under the Constitution. It replaced the National Energy Board with the bureaucratic Canada Energy Regulator, and replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the Impact Assessment Agency. The changes resulted in institutionalized jurisdictional duplication, uncertainty on time limits, and expanded discretionary practices, ultimately causing vague and uncertain timelines for projects.
The law ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada for a final decision, with the province of Alberta, ICBA, and some other provinces and groups on one side, and the federal government on the other.
The federal government’s added layers of regulation discouraged investment in major resource and infrastructure projects, to the point that in its own March 2023 federal budget, the government promised $25 million to “study the problem” and pledged to produce “a concrete plan to improve the efficiency of the impact assessment and permitting processes for major projects” by the end of this year.
“According to an analysis from the Canada West Foundation, 25 proponents have submitted projects for review under the new regime since it came into force less than four years ago – and all of these projects remain bogged down in the first two phases of a four-step process,” said Gardner. “The speedy review process promised by Ottawa was an illusion. And today, it has been rightly struck down by the courts.”
The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), the largest construction association in Canada with chapters in B.C. and Alberta, represents more than 4,000 members and clients. ICBA is one of the leading independent providers of group health and retirement benefits in western Canada, supporting more than 150,000 Canadians, and the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C. www.icba.ca
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