Remarks at the Subcommittee on Bill C-38 (Part III) of the Standing Committee on Finance

May 28, 2012

Remarks by Denise Carpenter, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
at the Subcommittee on Bill C-38 (Part III) of the Standing Committee on Finance
May 28, 2012

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, Committee members, and members of the public.

I am here today to speak on behalf of Canada’s nuclear industry.

The Canadian Nuclear Association has some 100 member companies, representing 71,000 people employed in the production and advancement of nuclear medicine, uranium mining and exploration, fuel processing and electricity generation.

As may be expected, our members will be affected by the amendments in the Budget Bill. In particular, the amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act and Nuclear Safety and Control Act will affect our daily operations.

Our members have a high familiarity with this legislation, having complied with it for 50+ years of operations. June 4th will mark the 50th anniversary of nuclear power generation in Canada. It will also mark over 50 years of safe operations and strong environmental stewardship.

Given our experience, we welcome the efforts to modernize Canada’s regulatory system. As indicated in the World Economic Forum’s 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report bureaucratic inefficiency is the largest barrier to doing business in Canada. The Report ranks Canada’s regulatory burden as the 48th highest (out of 142 countries).

CNA members are optimistic that the proposed amendments will increase not only the efficiency, but also the effectiveness of Canada’s regulatory system. We expect the amendments to enhance job creation and economic growth while protecting the environment.

This is good for Canada.

Upon reviewing the Budget Bill amendments, we found that:

  1. The Bill has taken great strides towards achieving the goal of “one project, one review, in a clearly defined time period”;
  2. The reduced overlap and duplication will not only limit “one project” to “one review”, but will strengthen environmental protection; and
  3. The effectiveness of the amendments will be demonstrated through compliance with newly established timelines and regulations.

Please allow me to elaborate.

With respect to achieving the goal of “one project, one review, in a clearly defined time period”, several of the amendments are aimed at reducing overlap and duplication through delegation, substitution, equivalency and fixed timelines. We see these as useful options that should be available to all industries.

Amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will allow the delegation, or substitution of one environmental assessment process for another. This has the potential to reduce multiple layers of overlapping environmental assessment processes to a single, effective process.

We were disappointed to discover, however, that under this new Act, federal – provincial equivalency will not be made available to our industry. So uranium mines, which may be better served by a provincial environmental assessment process, will not have the same opportunities that other metal mines will.

There is nothing to be lost in making federal – provincial equivalency available to all industries. The goal is not to reduce the environmental scrutiny that our industry is subject to, but to improve the overall regulatory system so that it fosters environmentally responsible economic activity.

We believe that the reduced overlap and duplication will strengthen environmental protection. Limiting “one project” to “one review”, is not only more efficient, it is more cost-effective, allowing resources to be applied where they can achieve the greatest environmental benefit.

It is not difficult to imagine how some 40 different agencies, each with its own regulatory processes, could draw resources away from what matters to the environment. Resources, such as time and budget, could be better spent on improved oversight and therefore compliance.

For example, the conduct of some 37 environmental assessments at Chalk River Laboratories has consumed considerable resources. These resources could have been spent on environmental remediation, or other beneficial environmental initiatives, rather than regulatory process.

So we appreciate the renewed focus that the Budget Bill brings to what matters to the environment.

That said, we believe that the true test of the Budget Bill’s effectiveness will be the federal government’s ability to comply with the legislated timelines it has introduced. The Bill promises legislated timelines for a number of permits and authorizations. These timelines will be established through supporting regulations that can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years to develop.

The development of these supporting regulations is particularly pressing given the proposed increases to penalties under the Fisheries Act, and the establishment of an Administrative Monetary Penalty system under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

There needs to be a clearly defined path to compliance. This will be provided in part through the newly developed regulations. We as an industry are committed to working with the federal government to implement the Budget Bill amendments and to develop these supporting regulations.

In summary, our members are supportive of a regulatory system that reduces duplication, establishes clear timelines and focuses on what matters to the environment.

We are optimistic that the Budget Bill amendments will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Canada’s regulatory system while protecting the environment.

We see the modernization of Canada’s regulatory system as a positive initiative for Canadians and for our nation.

It will allow Canada’s nuclear industry to continue providing highly-skilled jobs, strong economies and above all, safe, clean, reliable and affordable power in an energy-hungry world.

At this time we would be pleased to answer any questions.

Thank you.

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