Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-69.
Our government recognizes that national resource sectors are a vital part of Canada's economy. Over $500 billion in major resource projects are planned across Canada over the next decade. Those projects have the potential to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs to support our communities and to contribute to our economy as a whole.
We have committed to regain public trust and get Canada's resources to market and to ensure those resources are developed in a responsible and sustainable way. Bill C-69 would put in place better rules that would provide predictable, timely project reviews and encourage investments. At the same time, it would ensure our environment would be protected and we could meet our commitments to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a clean growth economy.
Today, I will speak about how Bill C-69 would provide certainty for proponents and would help ensure good projects could go ahead, specifically, how it would contribute to more timely reviews and clearer requirements for companies; how it would reduce duplication and red tape by achieving our goal of one project, one review; and how it would provide a clear process and rules for transitioning to the new impact assessment system.
Throughout our extensive engagement with companies and industry groups across Canada, we heard they needed predictable, timely review processes to develop resources and get them to market. We listened, and that is exactly what the bill would provide.
Under the proposed legislation, one agency, the new impact assessment agency of Canada, will lead all major projects reviews, working closely with regulatory bodies. With one agency as the federal lead, reviews will be more consistent and indeed more predictable. A revised project list will define the types of projects that will be subject to impact assessments, providing the certainty that companies need and expect.
Our government is consulting with Canadians now to ensure the project list is robust and includes effective criteria such as environmental objectives and standards for clean air, water, and climate change. Through a new early planning and engagement phase, companies will be able to identify and address issues early in the process before an impact assessment begins. Early planning will result in tailored impact statement guidelines, a co-operation plan, an indigenous engagement and partnership plan, public participation plan, and, if required, a permitting plan.
The details of these early planning products will be further articulated in the information requirements and time management regulations. We are consulting on these now and they will come into force concurrently with the IAA. This early planning stage will define requirements and clarify expectations so companies know what is expected of them and when.
This new phase will help them design and plan their projects and more effectively engage indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and local communities. Amendments proposed by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development will also enable the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to inform companies early on if a project is likely to have negative impacts, giving proponents an earlier opportunity to decide to continue with an impact assessment.
Bill C-69 would also put in place stricter timeline management for impact assessments, with fewer stops of the clock. Specifically, timelines for agency-led reviews would be reduced from 365 days to 300 days. Panel reviews would be shortened from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days. In addition, panel reviews for designated projects reviewed in collaboration with a federal life cycle regulator would be shortened to 300 days, with the option to allow the minister to set the timeline up to a maximum of 600 days if warranted based on the project's complexity. Timelines for non-designated projects reviewed by life cycle regulators would be shortened from 450 days to 300 days.
The regulations I mentioned earlier would also establish clear rules around when timelines could be paused. In addition, proposed amendments provide for a 45-day timeline for establishing a review panel. Together, these measures will result in more timely decisions and more certainty for proponents.
Companies will also know in advance what will be considered during reviews and what factors will guide decision-making. Reviews will take into account not just environmental impacts, but social, economic, and health effects, along with impacts on indigenous peoples and their rights.
Recognizing that not all project effects are negative, the bill would ensure that both positive and negative impacts would be considered. Amendments clarify that the government's public interest decision will be based on the assessment report and the consideration of specific factors.
The bill would also provide strong transparency measures so proponents would be informed about key decisions, as well as the reasons behind them. That includes, for example, decisions to extend the timeline for a review or to refer a final decision on a project to cabinet. Also, when final decisions are made on whether a project will go ahead, the proponent will be informed of the reasons why and will be assured that all factors were appropriately considered.
I want to note that in considering Bill C-69, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development heard testimony from a number of companies and industry groups. There were suggestions for improving the bill, and I want to recognize the committee for listening to that feedback and responding.
As reported back to the House, Bill C-69 now includes stronger transparency provisions that would benefit proponents and provide more certainty and consistency across the legislation. Amendments would improve transparency by requiring assessment reports to incorporate a broader range of information, including a summary of comments received, recommendations on mitigation measures and follow-up, and the agency's rationale and conclusions. It would also require that public comments provided during the public reviews would be made available online. That information posted online would also need to be maintained so it could be accessed over time.
I would like to talk now about how Bill C-69 would achieve our government's goal of one project, one review. By providing for joint reviews and substitution, where a process led by another jurisdiction fulfills the requirement for a federal review, it would promote co-operation with provinces and territories, reduce red tape, and prevent duplication. In addition, we would be increasing opportunities for partnership with indigenous peoples and for indigenous governing bodies to take on key responsibilities, including taking the lead on projects.
I commend the standing committee for further advancing our objective of one project, one review. As a result of its work, integrated review panels with federal regulators can now include other jurisdictions, making it possible to have just one assessment that meets all requirements. This is important for investor certainty. This change responds directly to testimony made before the committee and what our government has heard from industry stakeholders. It supports our goal of certainty and timelines in review processes.
Finally, we have also heard how important it is for Bill C-69 to support a smooth transition between the current assessment regime and the new regime. Our government recognizes that this transition needs to be clear and predictable to encourage investment and keep good projects moving forward. We have also committed that no project will have to return to the beginning of the process. This legislation fulfills that promise. Under Bill C-69, projects would continue under the current rules where the assessment would already be under way.
Thanks to the work of the standing committee, the transition process in now even clearer. Amendments would increase predictability by confirming how the transition to the new review process would work, with objective criteria to identify projects that would continue to be reviewed un CEAA 2012, giving companies the option to opt in to the new process and confirming that no one would go back to the starting line.
We know that many companies are already adopting best practices that are in line with this legislation. Should they choose to opt in, we will provide advice and support to help them transition smoothly to the new requirement.
Bill C-69 is designed to help good projects move forward, not stop them. Our government is committed to developing Canada's natural resources in a sustainable and environmentally supportive way.