Definition: Life Cycle Assessment
A life cycle assessment (LCA) assesses the environmental impacts of a product and the resources used throughout a product's life cycle; from raw material acquisition, via production and use phases, to waste management (the term 'product' referring to both goods and services). The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental and social damages assignable to products and services, to be able to choose the least harmful one.
An LCA offers a comprehensive view that considers impacts on the natural environment, human health, and resources. LCA applications include product development and improvement, strategic planning, public policy making and marketing.
Source: Encyclopaedia of Life
The Government of Canada introduced "Bill C-38: An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures" April 26, 2012.
Bill C-38 is the first of two budget implementation acts. Debate on Bill C-38 begins on May 3, 2012 and passage is expected before the end May. The second budget bill comes to the Commons in the fall and becomes law by the end of the year. At 420 pages Bill C-38 is among the longest budget implementation bills ever.
About one-third of the budget implementation bill changes environmental legislation, instead of dealing with fiscal matters as a budget implementation bill does in the Canadian System. Non-budgetary environmental changes in Bill C-38 include:
- Repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
- Replacement of the 79 page Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) with a new 40 page Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012), creating a whole new scheme for environmental review, with a much narrower scope. Time limits will be set for assessments, and projects will be excluded from federal review if they are reviewed provincially. Environmental reviews are no longer required for projects involving federal money.
- Cabinet will be able to overrule both CEAA and the National Energy Board (NEB).
- Exempting NEB, CEAA, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and other federal agencies from requirements to ensure protections are in place for species at risk and their critical habitats when issuing permits.
- Amending the Species at Risk Act to create time limits on the issuance and renewal of permits.
- Removing the habitat protection measure in the Fisheries Act.
- Eliminating the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NTREE).
This is the third time the current Government of Canada has used budget implementation bills to change environmental laws. In 2009 and 2010 the current Government used the budget implementation act to amend environmental laws such as the Navigable Waters Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Critics aren't happy such fundamental changes to environment law are contained in a budget bill and won't get the scrutiny they deserve. Changes to environmental laws made as stand-alone legislation, are subject to comprehensive analysis, review by the Environment Committee and/or environmental experts, and hearings or debate by members of Parliament.
"The legal protection for fish habitat has been completely eliminated," said Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law.
"It is an affront to democracy to bury such far-reaching changes to laws Canadians depend upon to help protect our environment in the budget implementation bill in order to avoid public scrutiny," said Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart.
"The Conservatives are attempting to legitimize their ideological antipathy towards science, evidence and environmental concerns," said Liberal Environment critic Kirsty Duncan.
"It's clear the Conservatives are introducing massive changes to our environmental protection laws. Fully one third of the bill is dedicated to paving the way for big oil and development projects," said NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.
"Instead of a rigorous thorough process to ensure the environmental safety of projects, we are left with politicians deciding which projects should go ahead," said Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, adding, "This should have been called the 'we don't care about the environment' act."
First Nations are also deeply concerned about being left out of the new procedures, despite legal obligations on the government to consult First Nations on impacts from major projects.
"It is an alarming development that Canada would take such steps," said Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
View Bill C-38: An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures
View April 27th, 2012 West Coast Environmental Law Association
View April 26th, 2012 Ecojustice coverage
View April 27, 2012 Globe and Mail coverage
View April 27, 2012 Green Party of Canada release
View April 26, 2012 Green party of Canada release
View April 26, 2012 CBC coverage
View April 26, 2012 Vancouver Sun coverage
View April 26, 2012 Postmedia News coverage
View April 26, 2012 Toronto Star coverage
View April 26, 2012 Montreal Gazette coverage
View April 26, 2012 Edmonton Journal coverage
View April 26, 2012 Hill & Knowlton Strategies coverage
View April 25, 2012 Liberal Party of Canada release
Sources: CBC, Huffington Post, Hill & Knowlton Strategies
The Canadian Federal Government used the 2012 budget, released March 29, 2012, as a means of slashing jobs and funding for environmental laws and programs in Canada.
Before budget legislation was released, leaked documents indicated the federal government would use the budget to gut protections for fish habitat, and weaken long-standing Candian environmental laws. The British Columbia (BC) Assembly of First Nations, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, more than 600 scientists, and countless Canadians wrote to Stephen Harper urging him to keep environmental laws in place.
Yet the budget indicates habitat provisions in the Fisheries Act will be removed.
Also, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) reviews will be limited to: 24 months for panel reviews of major projects and 12 months for standard environmental assessments. This condensed timeline will also apply retroactively to the 11 projects currently undergoing review: including the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
"Environmental assessments need to be thorough, consultative and science-based." said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. "Creating hard-time limits and rushing the process compromises all these things."
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is in line for a 40% cut in funding. Cuts in spending were also made to Environment Canada (6%) and Parks Canada (4%).
The National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) has been eliminated for an annual savings of $5.2 million. The NRTEE, established in the 1990s under Brian Mulroney, is a key federal advisory panel on business and environmental issues that produces numerous reports about business, natural resources, government policy and climate change.
The federal government provided the Canada Revenue Agency with $8 million over two years to fund "education and compliance activities with respect to political activities by charities". Charities can currently devote up to 10% of their charitable resources to non-partisan political advocacy that is part of the charity's overall purpose. Charities will also have to provide more information on their activities, including the extent of foreign funding.
The budget also provides $50 million over two years to support the legal obligation to protect species at risk.
View March 22, 2012 Letter from Canadian Scientists to Prime Minister Harper (PDF)
View March 22, 2012 Vancouver Observer article
View April 2, 2012 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report
View March 29, 2012 Sierra Club of Canada press release
View March 29, 2012 Canadian Environmental Law Association press release
View March 29, 2012 West Coast Environmental Law Association Myths & Realities: Budget and Environmental Laws (PDF)
View March 28, 2012 Ecojustice press release
View Envirolawmatters.ca Environmental Assessment page
View Ecojustice Fisheries Act backgrounder
View Government of Canada Budget 2012 page
The Canadian Senate passed the omnibus federal government budget bill (Bill C-9) on July 12, 2010, with previously deleted sections reinstated. Some environmental groups fear these sections weaken Canada's federal environmental assessment review process. The changes allow the Environment Minister discretion to define scope of environmental assessments.
Government politicians praised the budget's passage as just what is needed for a healthy economy, while critics said the government has made it easier for corporations to submit environmental assessments with only limited scope, or to avoid assessment altogether.
"This sets us back 20 or 25 years in terms of environmental assessment in Canada. It's a huge step backwards," commented Sierra Club Canada executive director John Bennett.
Critics say changes will "gut" the Act, and particularly weaken environmental oversights for new energy projects. Assessments could be carried out, not by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but by weaker, less experienced bodies.
"The whole point of this, it's clear, is to push through major energy project. In the wake of the BP disaster, this is not the time to weaken environmental reviews of offshore oil and gas," said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party . "It will be a miracle if these changes don't result in a disaster in some part of the Canadian environment because of the weakening of the review process."
One positive changes is that federal authority for environmental assessments rests with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, whose budget has been beefed up by 60% a year, or $11 million.
View July 12, 2010 Hill Times article
View July 7, 2010 Winnipeg Sun article
View July 6, 2010 Sierra Club article
View July 8, 2010 Globe and Mail article
View May 11, 2010 Ecojustice press release
View July 12, 2010 Toronto Sun article
View July 13, 2010 Toronto Star article
View July 13, 2010 Globe-Net article
Source: Winnipeg Sun, Globe-Net
In winter 2008-2009 Canada's current Government prorogued Parliament, and re opened parliament introducing a budget that included amendments to the Navigable Water Protections Act that eliminated environmental assessments for development projects on Canadian waterways, with very few exceptions.
In 2010, after proroguing Parliament December 30, 2009, the Government has again introduced a budget bill that reduces legal and regulatory provisions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to protect Canada's natural environment.
In a May 10, 2010 letter to the Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, sixteen conservation and community organizations implore members of the Committee "...to object to these regressive changes that threaten Canada's environment."
- exempting a host of major projects from environmental assessments;
- granting Minister of Environment discretionary power to break large projects into smaller pieces and avoid environmental assessment (over rules January 2010 recent Supreme Court decision of MiningWatch Canada v. Canada);
- public environmental assessments for pipelines and nuclear power projects to National Energy Board and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, despite no previous experience or mandate to conduct environmental reviews.
"By burying these significant changes deep within a towering, 900-page budget bill, the government has deliberately sought to hide these changes from public scrutiny, discussion or debate," says Josh Paterson, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver. "That's why we're asking MPs on the Finance Committee to show environmental leadership by cutting these changes out of the Budget."
View May 10, 2010 West Coast Environment Law press release
View Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures
View Save Canada's Environmental Laws! on Facebook
View May 10, 2010 The Hook article
View March 10, 2009 Manitoba Wildlands news item
View May 12, 2010 The Mark article
View January 21, 2010 Supreme Court of Canada Judgment
View April 1, 2010 Liberal Party news release
View May 18, 2010 The Globe and Mail article
Source: West Coast Environment Law, Parliament of Canada
- Manitoba Agreement On Environmental Assessment Cooperation(PDF) mechanisms are part of licensing in Manitoba where there is federal responsibility identified as per provisions and regulations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (See our Governments page for statutes, Manitoba, and Canada). The Cooperation agreement outlines the process by which a single environmental assessment occurs that addresses the assessment responsibilities of both levels of government (See section below for further details).
The Manitoba Minister of Conservation can direct the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to hold public hearings regarding environmental licenses for certain classes of development. The Minister responsible for the Act has the discretion to request public hearings for Class 2 and 3 developments under The Environment Act, such as:
Once the CEC has concluded the public hearings, it provides the minister with a report and recommendations regarding the environmental proposal and potential environmental license. The CEC website provides recent reports on environmental matters in Manitoba. A federal environmental panel can also be appointed by the federal minister.
- Long term forestry management plans
- Hydro dams
- Various mines and mills
- Ethanol plants
- Major water works or floodways
- Wind turbine projects
- New highways
- Transmission infrastructure and corridors
Public registries hold public information and documents required in the licensing process. Public reviews, and comments are also held in the public registries. Applications, scoping documents, and final determinations on licenses are all part of the record. For a full listing of Manitoba public registries go to our Consultations/Legislation page. Manitoba Eco Net provides an electronic listing of public registry documents and file contents. Go to Public Registry on their home page.
View more information on the Manitoba Environment Act Public Registry
Download May 2008 CIER presentation, First Nations and Hydro Development in Manitoba: Selected Issues for Consideration (PDF)
The Government of Canada is making amendments to important federal legislation governing the protection of, and right of access to, Canada's waterways.
The Budget Implementation Act, an omnibus bill tabled February 6, 2009 proposes to radically change the law that protects the navigability of Canada's rivers and streams. The amendments are intended to limit applicability of the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) and, hasten the approval process for projects that might interfere with navigation.
Proposed amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act seek to withdraw federal protection for thousands of lakes, rivers or streams across the country, meaning new projects such as bridges or dams could take place on those waterways without an environmental assessment or public notification.
"The NWPA and navigation rights are integral part of Canada's environmental protection regime. If you take away the protection of navigation rights, you will impact the natural environment on Canadian waterways," said Will Amos of Ecojustice. "This is not a wise thing to do, even in tough economic times."
View David Suzuki Foundation Take Action page on NWPA
View February 9, 2009 Ecojustice Memorandum on NWPA (PDF)
View Lake Ontario Waterkeepers NWPA Research (PDF)
View Lake Ontario Waterkeepers comparison of old and new NWPA legislation (PDF)
View Facebook advocacy group, I Speak For Rivers
Sources: David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice
Manitoba Water Stewardship and Manitoba Hydro have started steps for permanent water power licences to allow water use for several dams in the Churchill River Diversion (CRD). The CRD has only interim licences for water power, and the dams have no environmental licences. No cumulative impact assessment for 30 years operations has been done either. The same is true of other dams in the province - at Grand Rapids, and along the Winnipeg River. Surveys for water power reserves/ licences on Manitoba lakes and rivers are still incomplete or not public.
After the 2004 Wuskwatim environmental reviews and hearings Manitoba's Clean Environment Commission (CEC) recommended that:
Recommendation 7.6: The Government of Manitoba require Manitoba Hydro to resolve all outstanding issues with regard to the Churchill River Diversion, the Augmented Flow Program and Lake Winnipeg Regulation. Following resolution of these issues, Manitoba Hydro should apply for the appropriate final licences for these three operations under The Environment Act and The Water Power Act as soon as possible.
Recommendation 7.7: The application for the approval of final licences for Churchill River Diversion, Augmented Flow Program and Lake Winnipeg Regulation should include a review of the terms and conditions, an operational review and any required environmental impact assessments. Clear guidelines should be developed with respect to what constitutes conformance to and/or violation of the terms under these licences.
Manitoba Wildlands, the Interfaith Task Force on Hydro Development, and northern communities believe the CEC recommendations mean both environmental and water power licenses and reviews must be undertaken.
The CEC panel ultimately agreed with a public participants motion filed summer 2003, supported by public participants, that the Wuskwatim generation project area was insufficient, excluded impacts that would be felt elsewhere in the hydro (CRD) system.
During the 2007 cabinet appeal of the Wuskwatim project licences, the director of environmental approvals under Manitoba's Environment Act confirmed that "The Minister of Water Stewardship has directed that outstanding issues related to the Churchill River Diversion project be addressed in order to allow for the consideration of the issuance of the CRD final licence under the Water Power Regulation under the Water Power Act."
Water Stewardship Minister Melnick has confirmed that consultations with affected Aboriginal communities will begin soon, and that a public process for public comments and a public registry will be put in place. A September 17 meeting in Thompson, Manitoba, began the process with some potentially affected Aboriginal communities.
A review of documents and correspondence shows that Manitoba Hydro is requesting the current interim water power licences be combined into one permanent licence, for 50 years.
Currently Manitoba Hydro maintains that the generation stations in its system do not need any environmental permits or licences. The dams also were not grandfathered during the 1980s under Manitoba's Environment Act, as many other installations and plants were. No independant cumulative assessment of the CRD system, or generation stations throughout the province has been conducted.
Manitoba Wildlands continues to expect the full intent of the CEC recommendation to be acted on.
Download May 6, 2009 License Application (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Consultation Agenda (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Consultation Backgrounder (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Consultation Community Confirmation Form (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Costs Guideline (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Consultation Framework (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 CRD Map (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Consultation Planning (PDF)
Download September 17, 2009 Presentation Slides (PDF)
Download September 30, 2009 Manitoba Wildlands Comments to Manitoba government (PDF)
View October 9, 2009 Manitoba Wildlands News item
Visit the Manitoba Wildlands Hydro Map Gallery
View Manitoba Water Power website by Manitoba Hydro
Download Manitoba Wildlands February 22, 2010 CRD, The Drum article (PDF)