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Other environmental laws in the “Son of Omnibus” Bill C-45?

On Friday, we described how the Navigable Waters Protection Act is being slashed so that it applies to only 62 named lakes and rivers and renamed the Navigation Protection Act. Here are some of the other environmental changes in the new Omnibus Bill, C-45:

  1. The Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act (being renamed the Navigation Protection Act), the Species at Risk Act, section 6 of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, the  Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the Port Authorities Operations Regulations  do not apply to the construction of the new Detroit bridge, parkway or any related work. Instead,  they must file with the Minister a plan that includes all measures to be taken to mitigate any adverse environmental effects caused by the construction and sets out a process for consulting the public with respect to the construction. This is part of an entire new BRIDGE TO STRENGTHEN TRADE ACT is being adopted to sweep away some of the litigation being brought against the new bridge (mostly by the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge).
  2. The Fisheries Act receives further minor amendments:
    1. The definition of protected Aboriginal fishery is expanded to include  “purposes set out in a land claims agreement entered into with the Aboriginal organization.”
    2. Fisheries Act fines are to be paid into the Environmental Damages Fund: s. 40 (6). The court can recommend how the Fund should apply the monies: s. 40(7).
    3. Seines and “fishing appliance”s are added as types of prohibited obstructions.
  3. “Technical” changes are being made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, apparently to correct unintended drafting errors. For example, “would” is changed to “could”. CHECK
  4. The Hazardous Materials Information Review Act is amended to abolish the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission and to transfer its powers and functions to the Minister of Health. No reasons were given for this.

The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission (HMIRC) was an arm’s-length administrative agency primarily focussed on worker health and safety in relation to hazardous materials:

  • to formally register claims for trade-secret exemptions and issue registry numbers;
  • to adjudicate and issue decisions on the validity of claims for exemption using prescribed regulatory criteria;
  • to make decisions on the compliance of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and labels within theWorkplace Hazardous Materials Information System(WHMIS) requirements [as set out in the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and Controlled Products Regulations (CPR), and various provincial and territorial occupational health and safety acts]; and
  • to convene independent, tripartite boards to hear appeals from claimants or affected parties on decisions and orders issued by HMIRC.

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