There has been some misinformation circulating regarding Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, and I would like to take this opportunity to clarify details on the matter.
Our government is still committed to maintaining the same rigorous environmental protection that Canadians expect. At the same time, Bill C-38 will streamline regulatory reviews for major projects and provide clear advantages for the Canadian economy. Eliminating duplication and overlap, and by setting a specified and generous period of two years for completing the necessary assessments, will allow further stimulation of the economy as well as creating more jobs. What is important to keep in mind here is that we are working on efficiency and that longer assessments do not equate to better assessments.
The current Fisheries Act goes well beyond its conservation goals and is in much need of a facelift. Bill C-38 will strengthen fisheries management in several ways by protecting Canada’s fisheries and the habitat that supports them, and will make better use of departmental resources by aligning them to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries. It is also worth mentioning that there will be no reduction in terms of DFO’s mandate to preserve and protect B.C. fisheries, especially coastal salmon fisheries and the spawning and nursery streams that support these fisheries.
Further to this, a particularly dated element in the current Fisheries Act is how all activities – from the largest industrial development to the smallest personal project on private land – are treated in the same manner. Bill C-38 will make the necessary distinction between the size and scale of the projects. We will create guidelines and standards in regulation to make clear what can and cannot be done when working in and around water for smaller projects, all the while maintaining the full review process for larger projects.
Finally, by focusing on the bigger picture, our government can better protect migratory streams and lakes which are home to Canada’s fisheries and their supporting areas. Enhanced protection will also be provided to ecologically sensitive areas; conditions associated with Fisheries Act authorizations will now be enforced; and we’re cracking down on those that break the rules by aligning penalties with that of the tougher Environmental Enforcement Act. All the while your government will continue to maintain existing regulations which protect waterways from pollution.
I want to ensure all my constituents that this Bill is only meant to streamline and simplify current services and/or regulations.
Colin Mayes, MP