Letter sent by Goldy Hyder to Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council, as part of her work on a committee of senior public servants, which includes Deputy Minister of Finance Michael Sabia and was announced in Budget 2023, to outline a concrete plan by the end of the year to improve the efficiency of the approval and permitting process for major projects in Canada.
RE: Improving the efficiency of the federal impact assessment and permitting process for major projects
Dear Ms. Charette,
Business leaders are encouraged by the government’s commitment in Budget 2023 to develop a concrete plan to improve the efficiency of the federal impact assessment and permitting processes for major projects in Canada. As you and the Deputy Minister of Finance embark on this important assignment for Canadians, I would like to offer our full support and assistance.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Responding to it requires immediate action and substantial capital investments to lower emissions and to position the country for long-term success. Some of the best estimates have put the scale of investment to achieve our climate goals at $2 trillion, much of which will come from the private sector.
There is agreement among public policy leaders, environmental groups and the people and companies making investments that result in good middle-class jobs: Canada’s regulatory approval processes have become unduly long and cumbersome. Maintaining a “business-as-usual” approach to approving major projects will compromise Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets and capitalize on the economic opportunities associated with the transition to a lower carbon future. There is real urgency to your work.
In March the Business Council of Canada produced Innovate, compete and win – a report that sets out how the public and private sectors can work together on the most critical elements that will drive the country’s economic and environmental security.
Our work offers several ideas to shorten the approval time for resource development and natural resource projects that are of national interest. We recommend prioritizing projects that achieve one or more of the following:
- Enhance global energy security;
- Contribute to an overall reduction in global GHGs by allowing countries to reduce their use of more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal;
- Increase Canadian supplies of low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen, renewable natural gas, biofuels and uranium;
- Expand the electrical grid by enabling increased power transmission within and between provinces;
- Generate electricity from low-carbon or zero-carbon sources;
- Improve access to minerals that are critical to the energy transition; and
- Advance the economic self-determination and success of Indigenous Peoples and communities.
We offer numerous ideas for how federal departments and agencies can work better together and with provincial governments. We also include specific recommendations on important items such Ministerial designation authority and Indigenous engagement. The full scope of our recommendations can be reviewed in the attached report.
Other countries are moving quickly to attract the investments that will power the coming economic and energy transformation. While some of these countries also suffer from cumbersome approval processes, our view is that a predictable regulatory process for major projects could provide a new and significant competitive advantage for Canada.
But much work remains to be done to restore investor confidence. Positioning Canada as an attractive place to invest in low-carbon solutions and as a country that can get big projects built should be central to your work.
Canada’s business leaders stand ready to work with you and other policy makers on this important assignment.
November 8, 2023
November 3, 2023