Mr. Chair, it is great to be here this evening. I am going to speak for about 10 minutes and then have a few minutes of questions.
I am very thankful to have the opportunity this evening to participate in this debate. I would like to take a little bit of time to talk a bit about our government's commitment to Canada's north. My remarks this evening will focus specifically on the work that we have done to improve northern governance and regulatory regimes.
The north is a very special and iconic place for Canadians. It is majestic in its vast geography. It is magnificent in its wildlife. It is the home of many aboriginal people. It is very rich in its natural resource potential.
Our government has a vision for the north, outlined in our northern strategy, and we are taking action to ensure that this vision comes to life for the benefit of all Canadians. We recognize the tremendous opportunities, as well as the many challenges, that exist in the north today. That is why, unlike past Liberal governments, ensuring that the true north remains strong and free continues to be a top priority of our Conservative government.
We are well aware that the overly complex regulatory environment in the north has been identified as a major source of frustration for people interested in investing in the northern territories. Northern regulatory processes have often resulted in delayed regulatory decisions, which have discouraged potential new investors and undermined the economic viability of major projects. Simply put, this hinders economic development in the north.
To be globally competitive, northern regulatory regimes need to provide a few things. They need to provide timely, efficient, and effective project reviews. At the same time, the processes also need to ensure strengthened environmental protection and respect aboriginal consultation obligations.
That is why our government launched the action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes. The plan builds on our government's efforts to create a strong and prosperous north that realizes its resource potential. It is a key step forward in implementing the northern strategy.
The action plan seeks to promote the creation of jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity by making northern regulatory frameworks strong, effective, efficient, and predictable. It will do this by making reviews of projects more predictable and timely, by reducing duplication for project reviews, by safeguarding environmental heritage, by strengthening environmental protection, and by achieving meaningful aboriginal consultation.
We have been working to meet these goals by introducing or amending legislation specific to each territory. For example, in the Northwest Territories, we passed the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which resulted in amendments to several pieces of federal legislation in order to strengthen the regulatory process.
As part of the action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes, our government passed the Northern Jobs and Growth Act, which received royal assent in June 2103. This act removed barriers to investment in the north and contributed to our government's jobs and growth agenda.
Another pillar of our regulatory improvement strategy is the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act, otherwise known as Bill S-6. Its passage would complete the legislative component of the action plan and would ensure regulatory efficiency and consistency right across the north. Bill S-6 was introduced as part of our government's comprehensive plan to promote jobs, growth, and prosperity in the north. This proposed legislation aims to further unlock the economic potential of the north by ensuring certainty, predictability, and timeliness for investors. This is essential to ensure that the territories remain an attractive place in which to live, work, and invest.
At this point, I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to a historic milestone that was reached last year on April 1, 2014. This is, of course, the day that saw the Northwest Territories devolution come into force. Devolution saw Ottawa transfer its decision-making powers and administrative duties related to land and resource management back to where they belong, to the Government of the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Territories is the second territory to assume land and resource responsibilities after Yukon.
Devolution has driven economic development by transferring responsibility for the management of onshore lands out of Ottawa and back to the north, where it belongs. It also gives the Northwest Territories the power to collect and share in resource revenues generated in the territory. In short, decision-making about land use has finally been put in the hands of northerners.
Devolution provides northerners with greater control over their lands and resources and with the power to improve processes in the north. Our government strongly believes that devolution will provide an opportunity for northerners, including aboriginal people, to help shape the future of the territories and share in the economic benefits that will flow.
Our government is working to extend the benefits of devolution beyond the Northwest Territories and Yukon to Nunavut as well. We know that reaching devolution in Nunavut is an essential step to reaching these goals and an important step in the political and economic development of the territory.
That is why, last October, the Government of Canada appointed Mr. Brian Dominique as chief federal negotiator for Nunavut devolution. This marks the start of tripartite negotiations with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and demonstrates our government's commitment to its northern strategy.
This is a big improvement on the previous processes. Before we embarked on the action plan, regulatory processes across the north were complex, costly, unpredictable, and time consuming, and these changes have changed that.
Amendments to legislation such as the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Northwest Territories Waters Act, and the Territorial Lands Act have created a more consistent regulatory process. These amendments included measures that streamlined the regulatory process by placing time limits on environmental assessments and reviews, consolidated federal decision-making, and introduced measures to enhance environmental stewardship. Similar amendments to legislation in Yukon and Nunavut will likewise improve regulatory regimes and promote consistency and efficiency across the north.
Measures such as these are essential for the people of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to realize the full benefits of devolution. Regulatory improvement will increase investor confidence by providing a clear and predictable review and assessment process that will allow the Northwest Territories to remain competitive in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
In conjunction with advancing devolution, the development of an approved land use plan for Nunavut is a key priority for regulatory improvement related to resource development in Nunavut. Our government remains committed to devolution and regulatory improvement that will allow Nunavut to fully realize its potential.
Unlike past governments, we have made the north a top priority, placing it higher on the agenda than it has been in many decades. This government has a clear vision for the north as a healthy, prosperous region within a strong, sovereign Canada.
I would like to end by thanking all of our partners who have contributed to our significant achievements under the northern strategy. I look forward to continuing to advance this government's plan for jobs, growth, and prosperity throughout the north.
Our government strongly believes that the territories should have the ability to make the key decisions about projects occurring on their land. To that end, as I mentioned, in April 2014 our government finalized the transfer of authority over lands and resource decisions in the Northwest Territories to the Government of the Northwest Territories.
I know that our government is working on a similar devolution agreement in Nunavut. I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could update the House on the status of the Nunavut devolution.