JBNQA: Environmental and social protection regime

Section 23 of the JBNQA establishes an environmental and social regime for Nunavik. This regime includes two procedures:

  • A provincial procedure for projects under Québec jurisdiction (mines, roads, etc.);
  • A federal procedure for projects under Canadian jurisdiction (wharfs, etc.).

Schedules 1 and 2 of Section 23 identify respectively categories of projects automatically subject to or exempt from the procedures. Projects that do not fall under the categories contained in the schedules are considered to be grey-zone projects. Each grey-zone project is assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it is subject to or exempt from assessment. These assessments are conducted either by the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission (projects under provincial jurisdiction) or the Screening Committee (projects under federal jurisdiction), both established pursuant to Section 23. Schedule 3 of Section 23 sets out the basic contents of an environmental and social impact statement.

The environmental and protection regime under the JBNQA establishes guiding principles that must be taken into consideration when planning projects and during their analysis:

  • Protection of Inuit, Naskapi and Cree;
  • Minimizing the environmental and social impacts of development activities;
  • Protection of the hunting, fishing and trapping rights of Inuit, Naskapi and Cree;
  • Protection of wildlife resources, biophysical environment and ecological systems;
  • Involvement of Inuit, Naskapi, Cree and other inhabitants of the region in the application of the regime;
  • The rights and interests of non-Native people;
  • The right to develop, in accordance with the provisions of the JBNQA.

PROVINCIAL PROCEDURE

For projects under provincial jurisdiction (mines, roads, etc.) subject to the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure under Section 23 of the JBNQA, the Deputy Minister of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (the environment and the fight against climate change), in his capacity as provincial administrator, is the responsible authority.

The procedure, which is reproduced in the Environment Quality Act, establishes a series of steps, a number of which are performed by the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission. Created pursuant to Section 23, the Commission is an independent body. It is composed of nine members: five appointed by the Government of Québec and four by the Kativik Regional Government.

The Kativik Environmental Quality Commission reviews development projects in Nunavik referred to it by the provincial administrator. First, it analyzes preliminary project descriptions and, for each project, prepares either a notice of exemption from the impact assessment procedure or directives on the required scope of the impact statement to be prepared by the project proponent. In both cases, it transmits its decisions to the provincial administrator. Next, the Commission analyzes project proponent impact statements and may hold public consultations with the concerned communities. Its recommendations to authorize projects with or without conditions, or not at all, are transmitted to the provincial administrator, who is responsible for final decisions and for transmitting these decisions to the project proponents.

The Kativik Environmental Quality Commission maintains an online project registry.

The Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques maintains an online project registry (in French).

Public participation
To encourage public participation at every step of the provincial impact assessment procedure, documents transmitted to the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission are generally made public and added to the project registry. The members appointed by the Kativik Regional Government to the Commission ensure impact statement directives are responsive to regional concerns. The Commission can decide to hold information sessions and public consultations after consulting with the project proponent, the Kativik Regional Government, and the concerned communities and organizations.

It is strongly recommended that, at the outset of a project, the proponent communicate with concerned regional organizations and communities to inform them of the project.

FEDERAL PROCEDURE

For projects under federal jurisdiction (wharfs, etc.) subject to the environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure under Section 23 of the JBNQA, the president of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, in his capacity as federal administrator, is the responsible authority. Two bodies are involved in the implementation of the federal procedure: the Screening Committee and the Environmental and Social Impact Review Panel (COFEX-North).

The Screening Committee is responsible for determining whether projects not appearing in schedules 1 and 2 of Section 23 and considered to be grey-zone projects are subject to or exempt from the federal impact assessment procedure. Following analysis, the Screening Committee transmits its recommendations to the federal administrator who is responsible for final decisions. The Screening Committee is composed of four members: two appointed by the Government of Canada and two by the Kativik Regional Government.

The COFEX-North is responsible for reviewing projects subject to the federal impact assessment procedure. It is composed of five members: three appointed by the Government of Canada and two by the Kativik Regional Government. The chairperson is appointed by the Government of Canada. Following analysis, the COFEX-North transmits its recommendations to authorize the projects with or without conditions, or not at all, to the federal administrator, who is responsible for final decisions and for transmitting these decisions to the project proponents.

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada maintains an online project impact assessment registry.

Public participation
To encourage public participation at every step of the federal impact assessment procedure, documents transmitted to the COFEX-North are generally made public and added to the project registry. The COFEX-North can decide to hold public consultations after consulting with the project proponent, the Kativik Regional Government, and the concerned communities and organizations.

It is strongly recommended that, at the outset of a project, the proponent communicate with regional organizations and the concerned communities to inform them of the project.