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Horizontal Evaluation of the Major Projects Management Office Initiative (MPMOI)

Audit and Evaluation Branch
Natural Resources Canada
Presented to the Performance Measurement, Evaluation and Experimentation Committee (PMEEC)
November 5, 2020

Table of Contents

ACRONYMS

ADM
Assistant Deputy Minister
BC EAO
British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office
CCARs
Crown Consultation and Accommodation Reports
CEAA 1992
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992
CEAA 2012
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012
CEA Agency
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
CEAR
Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry
CIAR
Canadian Impact Assessment Registry
CIRNAC-ISC
Crown - Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada - Indigenous Services Canada
CNSC
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
DG
Director General
DM
Deputy Minister
DM MPMO
Deputy Ministers’ Major Projects Management Office Committee
EA
Environmental assessment
ECCC
Environment and Climate Change Canada
EEP
Energy East Pipeline
FTE
Full-time equivalent
GHG
Greenhouse gas
GIC
Governor in Council
IA
Impact assessment
IAA
Impact Assessment Act
IAAC
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
IAMC
Indigenous Affairs Monitoring Committee
IARP
Impact Assessment and Regulatory Process
IPO-West
Indigenous Partnerships Office-West (previously named MPMO-West)
MPMO
Major Projects Management Office
MPMOI
Major Projects Management Office Initiative
NEB
National Energy Board
NGTL
NOVA Gas Transmission Limited
NPA
Navigation Protection Act
NRCan
Natural Resources Canada
OIC
Order in Council
PFP
Participant Funding Program
RA
Responsible authority
SARA
Species at Risk Act
TC
Transport Canada
TMX
Trans Mountain Expansion

Executive summary

About the Evaluation

This report presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the horizontal evaluation of the Major Projects Management Office Initiative (MPMOI, or the Initiative), including the Interim Strategy on Pipelines and Other National Energy Board (NEB) Reviews(the Interim Strategy). Initiated in 2007, the MPMOI is a federal horizontal initiative involving 12 federal regulatory departments and agencies, led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the objective of which is to improve the accountability, transparency, timeliness, and predictability of the regulatory system for major resource projects. The two primary components of the Initiative include:

  • funding provided to partner departments and agencies to maintain the capacity needed to support timely and robust technical analyses and Indigenous consultations; and
  • the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO, or the Office), housed within NRCan, which serves as a central coordinating body for reviews of major resource projects across Canada.

Introduced in fiscal year 2016-17, the Interim Strategy consists of measures designed to ensure major resource project reviews led by the NEB align with principles announced by the Government of Canada in January 2016. These, in turn, respond to an earlier government commitment, first articulated in 2015 Speech from the Throne to introduce environmental assessment (EA) processes that improve engagement with Indigenous peoples and the use of scientific evidence while reducing environmental impacts. The Strategy sought to work towards achieving these goals until the federal government could review Canada’s EA processes and the previous government’s changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and modernize the NEB.

The review led to the introduction of Bills C-68 and C-69 in February 2018, both of which since received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force on August 28, 2019. The bills propose changes to legislation that significantly affect how the MPMOI operates and is structured. For the purposes of this evaluation, the most substantial of these changes involves replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC or the Agency) through Bill C-69. The Agency has become the primary authority responsible for conducting impact assessments (IAs), which will be more comprehensive than traditional EAs, considering not merely a project’s potential environmental impacts, but also its social, health, and economic implications, as well as impacts on Indigenous peoples and other diverse communities. 

This evaluation responds to a Treasury Board commitment for a comprehensive, horizontal evaluation of the MPMOI in 2017–18 to inform future renewal. The evaluation was conducted by NRCan’s Audit and Evaluation Branch (AEB) in accordance with the 2016 Treasury Board of Canada’s Policy on Results (2016), and covers the three-year period spanning 2015–16 to 2017–18. Data collection for the evaluation was conducted between July 2018 and February 2019, and consisted of a comprehensive document and administrative data review, as well as a series of key informant interviews with internal and external partners and stakeholders. The MPMOI was last evaluated in 2012.

What the Evaluation Found

Relevance

The evaluation found an ongoing need for the federal government to allocate resources to maintain the scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity necessary to support reviews of major resource projects, as well as a continued need for the roles and responsibilities currently held by the Office. However, the evaluation found little consensus about what, if any, of these roles and responsibilities the Office itself should perform in the future, particularly in light of recent legislative changes and other ongoing developments. Revisiting and clarifying the MPMO’s mandate and its roles and responsibilities at this time is critical to avoid overlap/duplication among program partners and other stakeholders, as well as to identify and address any possible gaps.

Activities delivered through the MPMOI are consistent with the federal government’s existing and proposed statutory roles and responsibilities as they relate to EAs and regulatory reviews, as well as with its duty to consult (and accommodate, as applicable) Indigenous peoples when a project may negatively impact Aboriginal or treaty rights. However, Bill C-69, including the implementation of a new Impact Assessment and Regulatory Process (IARP) could affect the allocation of roles and responsibilities among some federal departments and agencies, particularly those of the Office, which are not currently established in legislation.

The MPMOI and the Interim Strategy align with current federal priorities, including environmental protection, action on climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and promotion of positive economic outcomes, and with the priorities and core responsibilities of participating federal departments and agencies.

Achievement of expected results

Program partners are engaging in all intended activities, and there is some evidence of progress towards achievement of certain outcomes. However, limited performance measurement data and diverse stakeholder perspectives precluded the evaluation from reaching firm conclusions.

  • Improved coordination of the regulatory review process. The MPMO and other Initiative partners engaged in a range of activities to coordinate the regulatory review process. Initiative partners worked with provincial regulators and proponents at the project level to coordinate activities during reviews and resolve issues encountered along the way, while at the horizontal level supporting the MPMOI’s governance structure and the development of Bill C-69. It is however unclear to what extent the major gains in coordination had been made prior to the evaluation period, or whether improvements since that time resulted from the coming into force of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) rather than the MPMOI.
  • Improved timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews. The evaluation found evidence that federal partners are successfully meeting legislated time limits for regulatory reviews; providing the specialized or expert information and knowledge required to inform EAs; considering scientific evidence in review decisions and using it to inform conditions imposed upon project proponents; and maintaining a variety of internal and public-facing tools to monitor, track, and report on performance. On the other hand, project timelines remain highly variable, and it is unclear whether the time needed for a project to advance from initial application to final assessment decision has declined since the last evaluation. It is also uncertain whether scientific evidence is more likely to be considered now as compared to before the evaluation period, or how commonly various reports and tools are used and whether the information they provide is meaningful to stakeholders.
  • More coordinated, consistent and meaningful Indigenous and public consultations. Activities were undertaken through the Initiative and the Interim Strategy to improve the coordination, consistency and meaningfulness of Indigenous and public consultations. Moreover, there is evidence that Indigenous peoples and other members of the public are participating in consultations, and that review decisions attempt to account for Indigenous and public input and to accommodate concerns, where appropriate. While many opportunities for improvement were identified during the evaluation, the evidence suggests the coordination, consistency and meaningfulness of Indigenous consultations has improved over time. The Federal Court of Appeal recognized significant improvements in the Crown consultation process, relative to consultations conducted during earlier project reviews, in its decision to overturn the approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada.

Program efficiency

The Deputy Minister (DM) and Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) committees, which are the key elements of the MPMOI governance structure, are a main strength of the Initiative. There may be opportunities to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the senior manager committees, particularly with respect to focus (i.e., horizontal policy issues or project-level issues), committee involvement in issues resolution, and nature of NRCan participation.

Due to limited information on resource use, outputs, and expected outcomes, the evaluation could not reach a definitive conclusion as to whether the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy are operating efficiently. Key informants gave numerous (and often contradictory) suggestions for improving effectiveness and efficiency, but there is no evidence that any of these would be more efficient or effective at achieving expected outcomes.

Although some performance information is collected, monitored and used internally to support decision-making, it is not always appropriate or sufficient to demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency. Key weaknesses include:

  • Limited financial and human resource information, including limited linkage of this information to Initiative/Strategy activities;
  • Performance measures that are inappropriate or insufficient for demonstrating progress towards outcomes, or that may not be meaningful to external partners/stakeholders; and
  • Limited functionality of the MPMO Tracker with regard to providing aggregate information about projects undergoing review.

There are opportunities to: improve the collection of performance measurement and financial and human resource information; ensure that performance indicators are relevant and valid for measuring expected outcomes; and improve the functionality of public-facing project monitoring systems.

Recommendations and Management Response

Recommendation 1.

NRCan should work with participating departments and agencies to ensure continuation of relevant activities currently performed by the MPMO. This process should be informed by a comprehensive review of the Office’s mandate, roles and responsibilities relative to the roles of other participating departments and agencies and/or external stakeholders, and should include the following task:

  • Determine what entity or entities (including the MPMO itself) should carry out roles and responsibilities currently performed by MPMO going forward, with explicit reference to any pertinent legislative (i.e., Bill C-69) or other developments occurring or anticipated to occur at the time the determination is made, and update the mandate as required.

Management Response and Action Plan

NRCan management agrees.

With the coming-into-force of Bill C-69 and introduction of the new Impact Assessment Act (IAA), many of the Office’s roles and responsibilities related to coordination of the federal regulatory process for major projects now reside with IAAC. Other roles, for example, with respect to coordination of crown consultation, now lie with the Agency, lifecycle regulators, or regulators.

Regarding responsibility for horizontal policy issues, the mandate and authorities of the Agency as set out in the IAA, is to administer, coordinate, and develop policy directly related to the IAA. 

NRCan has undertaken a comprehensive review of the Office’s former functions and horizontal coordination requirements and identified which entity or entities have responsibility for these roles in the new legislative and regulatory context. 

NRCan, working with participating departments and agencies, is pursuing a revised mandate for the Office, which takes into consideration the new legislation, the results of the review, as well as the broader context of Government priorities related to Canada’s natural resource sector. 

Responsible Manager / Organization: ADM, MPMO

Target Date: September 30, 2020

Recommendation 2.

NRCan should collaborate with participating departments and agencies to improve performance measurement for the MPMOI. To ensure responsible departments and agencies can demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the MPMOI and IARP, the following steps should be taken (at a minimum):

  • Revise the logic model for the Initiative to ensure that it clearly articulates activities, outputs and expected outcomes (immediate, intermediate, and long-term). This may include revising, removing, or adding activities, outputs and expected outcomes to ensure clarity and avoid repetition.
  • Develop and implement a set of performance measures corresponding to the outcomes identified in the revised logic model. The performance measures should enable monitoring of progress towards outcome achievement; process indicators should not be relied upon as evidence of outcome achievement, and indicators should be meaningful and relevant to Initiative stakeholders and partners.
  • Strengthen monitoring and reporting tools or practices, to facilitate consistent collection of performance information across departments and agencies, and enable a clear understanding of progress towards outcomes or enable course correction if the desired change is not seen. This should include establishing baselines or benchmarks for expected outcomes, and identifying clear targets and dates to achieve these targets.
  • Improve tracking of financial and human resource information. This should include:
    • Actual resource use from new and existing department and agency budgets for major resource project reviews (including trends over time); and
    • Allocation of financial and human resources to various activities, corresponding to the activities identified in the revised logic model.
  • Improve public-facing project monitoring systems to ensure that stakeholders and interested members of the public can obtain and understand information about major resource projects under federal review. This should include providing easier access to information about project assessments (including the rationale behind review decisions), as well as improving the functionality and timeliness of public-facing monitoring systems to ensure accessibility of project-level and aggregated information about major resource projects progressing through the federal review system.

With the passing of Bill C-69 and the implementation of the IARP, the Agency should also consider these improvements to performance measurement and collaborate with participating departments and agencies to ensure they are addressed for this new horizontal initiative.

Management Response and Action Plan

NRCan management agrees.

NRCan acknowledges the importance of quality performance measurement to inform program management, improve performance and provide transparent, clear and useful information on results achieved. 

As the horizontal MPMO Initiative led by NRCan sunsetted at the end of fiscal year 2019-20, it is no longer relevant to make revisions to the performance measurement for the existing MPMOI.

NRCan will ensure that measures to support the evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency are a key component of any new program proposal put forward.

With the coming into force of Bill C-69, IAAC has assumed responsibility for horizontal results tracking and reporting on the new IARP, including monitoring and reporting on performance measures, and tracking of financial and human resources. 

Responsible Manager / Organization ADM, MPMO

Target Date N/A

Management Response and Action Plan

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC or the Agency), sees value in this recommendation and is taking the following actions.

With the implementation of the IAA, the Agency was created to lead all federal impact assessments and be the sole Crown consultation coordinator for federal projects assessed under the new IARP. This consolidated responsibilities that were formerly distributed across agencies and departments into a single place. As such, many of the coordination and reporting activities that had previously been the responsibility of NRCan’s MPMO were transferred to IAAC. This includes responsibilities associated with performance measurement as the lead organization responsible for monitoring and reporting on the Horizontal Results Framework (HRF) for the IARP horizontal initiative resulting from Bills C-69 and C-68.

The following steps have been undertaken by IAAC (previously the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) to address the considerations identified in this recommendation:

  1. Revise the logic model for the initiative and develop and implement a set of performance measures corresponding to the outcomes identified in the revised logic model

    In 2018, IAAC collaborated with eight other federal departments and agencies to develop a HRF for the IARP horizontal initiative. This HRF was approved by Deputy Heads from each of the nine federal departments and agencies, including: IAAC, Canada Energy Regulator (previously the National Energy Board), NRCan, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Health Canada, Transport Canada, and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The HRF was approved by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in December 2018.

    In fiscal year 2019-20, with the coming-into-force of the IAAon August 28, 2019, the Agency further collaborated with the above-mentioned departments and agencies to review targets, dates to achieve targets, and where necessary, to strengthen performance indicators. These updates will be published with the 2020-21 Departmental Plan (DP).

  2. Strengthen monitoring and reporting tools or practices, and improve tracking of financial and human resource information

    The Agency collects financial and non-financial performance information bi-annually, to be published on the Agency’s website as part of the Departmental Results Report (DRR) and DP processes. The first publication of performance information will be with the 2018-19 DRR.

    Moving forward, IAAC will continue to collaborate with partner organizations to ensure ongoing monitoring of performance of the horizontal initiative, and the availability of financial and non-financial performance information to support annual reporting in the DRR and DP, as well as to support future evaluations.

  3. Improve public-facing project monitoring systems

    On coming into force of the IAA, the Agency launched a modern, user-focused, public Registry serving as a one-stop shop for information related to IAs. The first release of the new Registry offers new tools and enhanced functionality in order to provide Canadians with greater access and transparency to information related to designated projects and the IA process, regional and strategic assessments, as well as regulatory/permitting processes of designated projects. It will increase Canadians’ access to the science and evidence behind project proposals, and make available easy-to-understand summaries of decisions. The Registry is also equipped with a collaborative platform to capture a wide range of views from stakeholders through a digital portal in support of increased transparency of information and public engagement.

    Additional system improvements will continue to be implemented in response to user needs and allow time to build interconnectivity with systems maintained by other government departments, such as the Open Science and Data platform.

Responsible Manager / Organization:
Vice-president, Operations
Vice-president, External Relations and Strategic Policy Sector
Vice-president - Corporate Services Sector

Target Date: March 31, 2020

Introduction

This report presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the horizontal evaluation of the Major Projects Management Office Initiative (MPMOI, or the Initiative), including the Interim Strategy on Pipelines and Other National Energy Board (NEB) Reviews(the Interim Strategy). The evaluation covers the period from 2015–16 to 2017–18. Data collection for the evaluation was conducted between July 2018 and February 2019. It responds to a Treasury Board commitment for a comprehensive, horizontal evaluation of the MPMOI in 2017–18 to inform future renewal. The evaluation was conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada’s Policy on Results (2016).

Program Information

Context

The resource sector constitutes an important pillar of the Canadian economy. In 2017, the energy, minerals and metals, and forest sectors directly and indirectly supported over 1.82 million (M) jobs across Canada and accounted for about 17% of the country’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) (NRCan, 2018a). As of June 2018, 418 major resource projects with combined capital costs of $585 billion (B) were planned over the next ten years or were already under construction (NRCan, 2018a).

Canadian natural resource producers act as price-takers in international markets and, as such, they are affected by price fluctuations associated with cycles in global supply and demand. Changes in the number, value and status of major resource projects over the years are often the result of a wide range of external economic factors (NRCan, 2018a).

Origins and background of the MPMOI

A major resource project, under the MPMOI, is a large-scale resource project which is subject to an environmental assessment by a Review Panel or by a Responsible Authority under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. Industry sectors with major resource projects typically include large scale mineral and metal mining, oil sands development, and energy generation, transmission and transportation (Program documentation).

The MPMOI is a federal horizontal initiative involving 12 federal regulatory departments and agencies, led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). When it was established in 2007, the Initiative aimed to improve the accountability, transparency, timeliness, and predictability of the regulatory system for major resource projects by addressing a number of shortcomings of the review process that existed at that time. These included insufficient scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity and lack of coordination among federal departments and agencies, leading to duplication, lengthy review timelines, and Indigenous consultations that often did not meet minimum legal requirements. Following the establishment of the MPMOI, the Cabinet Directive on Improving the Performance of the Regulatory System for Major Resource Projects was established to provide guidance to the Initiative (Government of Canada, 2007).

The MPMOI consists of two main components. One key component is the provision of funding to partner departments and agencies to augment their internal scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity to support timely and robust technical analyses and Indigenous consultations. These include the Canadian Environmental Assessment  Agency (CEAA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada (TC), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada-Indigenous Services Canada (CIRNAC-ISC).

The second key component is the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO, or the Office), housed within NRCan, which serves as a central coordinating body for reviews of major resource projects across Canada. The MPMO’s roles include:

  • providing overarching project management and accountability for major resource projects, in order to ensure timely and predictable processes;
  • overseeing the implementation of the whole-of-government approach to Crown consultation, which requires consultation on major resource projects to be integrated into federal environmental assessment (EA) and regulatory review and approval processes; and
  • providing horizontal leadership across the Government of Canada to advance policy, regulatory, and legislative improvements to the federal EA and regulatory system for major resource projects.

Table 1 below provides details about the roles and responsibilities of the MPMO (the roles and responsibilities of funded departments and agencies aside from NRCan are described in further detail below).

Table 1 : Roles and responsibilities of the MPMO
Roles Responsibilities
Providing overarching project management and accountability for individual major resource project reviews, in order to ensure timely and predictable processes
  • Providing a single point of entry into the federal regulatory system
  • Engaging in early discussions and information exchanges with project proponents on proposed major resource projects
  • Developing, in collaboration with federal entities and after consultation with the project proponent, a consensus-based Project Agreement for each major resource project
  • Coordination of federal government participation in NEB reviews
  • Implementing and managing a transparent monitoring and tracking system to provide information to stakeholders on major resource projects progressing through the regulatory system
Overseeing the implementation of the whole-of-government approach to Crown consultation on major resource projects
  • Working with CEAA, CIRNAC-ISC and other federal departments and agencies to ensure that the federal government fulfills its consultation responsibilities in a consistent and adequate manner
  • Acting as the Crown Consultation Coordinator for consultations carried out for NEB-regulated MPMOI projects
  • Undertaking post-NEB hearing consultations with Indigenous groups prior to the Governor in Council (GIC) decision on a project, in order to ensure that there is a mechanism for the Crown to consider outstanding or unresolved Indigenous concerns, and reduce legal risk pertaining to the Crown’s duty to consult
  • Maintaining the official record of Indigenous/Crown consultation for the Government of Canada for NEB-regulated MPMOI projects
  • Delivering a Participant Funding Program (PFP) for NEB reviews with the objective of ensuring that Indigenous concerns and interests are taken into consideration before, during, and after the federal environmental process and regulatory reviewFootnote 1

Providing horizontal leadership across the Government of Canada to advance policy, regulatory, and legislative improvements to the federal regulatory system

  • Supporting the Deputy Ministers’ Major Projects Management Office Committee (DM MPMO) in fulfilling its mandate to improve the performance of the regulatory system
  • Leading or contributing to collaborative research and policy analysis on initiatives to improve the performance of the regulatory system, such as legislative options, cost recovery, Indigenous consultation, cumulative effects, and regional assessment processes

MPMOI Activities and Partners

For the period covered by this evaluation (2015–16 to 2017–18), the MPMOI consisted of the following five activities delivered by six funded departments and agencies.

  1. Scientific and technical expert capacity. Internal scientific and technical expert capacity to support assessment of environmental impacts and to support regulatory processes under departments’ respective legislation; development of conditions for managing environmental effects; engagement in regulatory review and decision-making processes; and provision of risk-based oversight over the project lifecycle.
  2. Indigenous consultations. Internal capacity to support efforts to meet the legal duty to consult with Indigenous groups, including participating in CEAA consultations during EAs, as appropriate. The intent is to address potential adverse impacts to asserted or established Aboriginal and treaty rights. This activity also included NRCan (MPMO) serving as the Crown Consultation Coordinator for major resource projects under NEB review.
  3. Proponent support and system integration. Through this activity, NRCan (MPMO) delivers a single window for proponents and provides overarching project management during major resource project reviews. Partner departments and agencies also support proponents throughout the EA process and during their respective regulatory processes, although they do not necessarily receive MPMOI funding to do so.
  4. Policy and reporting. This activity supports delivery of a coordinated, five-year forward horizontal policy agenda. The forward policy agenda examined a number of subjects, including Indigenous engagement, cumulative effects, and enhanced monitoring.
  5. Legal support. Through this activity, funded partners work with the Department of Justice to proactively manage legal risk for projects.

As already noted, in addition to NRCan, five other departments and agencies receive funding through the MPMOI. Their specific roles and responsibilities in delivering the MPMOI are as follows:

  1. CEAA conducts EAs of major resource projects as a Responsible Authority (RA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012), which includes facilitating public and Indigenous participation in the assessment process and managing involvement by federal expert departments. It also serves as Crown Consultation Coordinator for Indigenous groups during EAs it manages, assesses project impacts on Aboriginal right and title, and provides support to review panels, as appropriate.
  2. DFO serves as an RA for transitional EAs started prior to CEAA 2012. It also helps proponents understand their responsibilities under the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act (SARA), and collaborates broadly to identify measures that minimize projects’ impacts on fish and fish habitat. Other activities include reviewing and making decisions relative to applications for authorizations, monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation and offsetting measures, and addressing its Crown consultation responsibilities in relation to its decisions. DFO also participates in Crown consultation activities led by other RAs. DFO also provides subject matter expertise during the EA process led by other RAs, as requested.
  3. TC participates in review activities under the Navigation Protection Act (NPA), such as assessing a project’s impacts to navigation, helping proponents understand their responsibilities under the NPA, issuing approvals, conducting follow-up, monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation and compensation measures, participating in Indigenous consultations, and collaborating with federal and provincial stakeholders to improve the performance of the regulatory system.
  4. ECCC provides subject matter expertise during the EA and regulatory permitting process (e.g., the expected impact of projects on wildlife/wildlife habitats, water quantity/quality, etc.). It also provides support on climate modelling and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the EA process,Footnote 2 and supports or undertakes consultations with regard to regulatory decisions under the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, SARA and the International River Improvements Act.
  5. CIRNAC-ISC provides project support and expertise, while contributing to modernizing policies and regulations that relate to the review of major resource projects. This includes supplying training, guidance, and policy advice to program partners to promote a whole-of-government approach to Indigenous consultation, negotiating consultation arrangements/protocols with Indigenous groups and developing Memoranda of Understanding with provinces and territories. It also involves collaborating with federal and provincial stakeholders to improve the performance of the regulatory system, and supporting the MPMO horizontal governance structure. Other activities include leading Strategic Environmental Assessments (EA) in offshore Arctic waters, in partnership with northern organizations.

Table 2 provides an overview of the funded activities and the departments and agencies that received funding to deliver them.

Table 2 : MPMOI funded activities and partners
Activity NRCan (MPMO) CEAA ECCC DFO CIRNAC-ISC TC
Scientific and technical expert capacity - X X X X X
Indigenous consultations X - X X X X
Proponent support and system integration X  - - - - -
Policy and reporting X X   X X X
Legal support X - X X - X
NOTE: The table accounts only for MPMOI-funded activities, and excludes activities undertaken by program partners over the evaluation period using resources acquired from alternative sources.

Several federal departments and agencies participate in the Initiative, but did not receive funding to deliver it. These include: Department of Justice; Privy Council Office; Health Canada (HC); Parks Canada Agency; and NRCan (excluding the MPMO). In addition, under CEAA 2012, the NEB and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) have responsibility to undertake EAs for transmission projects and nuclear projects respectively, and did not receive funding as part of the MPMOI.

Legislative Context

Since the MPMOI was established in 2007, the legislative and regulatory regime for major resource projects in Canada has evolved considerably. At the time the MPMOI was established, there were 40 RAs involved in federal reviews of major resource projects, no legislative time limits for reviews, and thousands of assessments completed each year. Major changes were made to the system in 2012, and further legislative changes were proposed in 2018 and passed in 2019.

2012 changes

Changes were made in 2012 to improve the timeliness and predictability of the review process; reduce duplication of project reviews; strengthen environmental protection; and enhance Indigenous consultations (NRCan, 2012b). Examples of changes include:

  • CEAA 2012 reduced the number of RAs from 40 to three—CEAA, the NEB, and the CNSC; set specific timelines for EAs; and focused assessments on major projects with greater potential for significant adverse environmental effects.
  • Regulatory time limits or service standards were set for key regulatory permitting processes, including the Fisheries Act, SARA, NPA (formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act), the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
  • Steps were taken to better integrate Indigenous consultations into the new EA and regulatory processes.

Project reviews operated under this system for the period covered by this evaluation.

2018 New Impact Assessment and Regulatory Process (IARP)

In the December 2015 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to review EA processes under the CEAA 2012 with the stated goal of expanding engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the general public, increasing consideration of scientific evidence, and ultimately minimizing environmental impacts (Government of Canada, 2015). Pursuant to this commitment, Responsible Ministers were then mandated to carry out or support reviews of Canada’s EA processes and of the previous government’s changes to the Fisheries Act and the NPA, as well as to modernize the NEB (Prime Minister of Canada, 2015d, 2015a, 2015e, 2015c, 2015b).

The Government of Canada launched the reviews of federal EA and regulatory processes in June 2016 and, in February 2018, introduced legislation (Bill C-68 and Bill C-69) that amend key sections of the Fisheries Act and the NPA, and repeal and replace CEAA 2012 and the National Energy Board Act. Both bills received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force August 28, 2019.

The bills provide changes to legislation that constitute the foundation of the MPMOI. Changes to the project review system include early project planning to improve project design; improved rules to provide greater clarity for proponents, as well as more predictable and timely reviews; increased public participation in impact assessments; and early and regular partnership and engagement with Indigenous peoples in the review process.

Key elements of Bill C-69 include the following:

  • Part 1 of the Bill enacts the Impact Assessment Act (IAA)(repealing CEAA 2012), and establishes the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC or the Agency) as the primary authority responsible for impact assessments (IAs). The new agency is responsible for leading the federal assessment of all designated major resource projects under the principle of “one project, one review”.Footnote 3 It is responsible for assessing a project’s social, health, environmental, and economic impacts including longer term impacts, as well as impacts on Indigenous peoples and other diverse communities through gender-based analysis plus (GBA+).Footnote 4 It is also responsible for coordinating Crown consultations for these designated projects. The Act also establishes an enhanced process for assessing environmental effects of projects on federal lands for which the federal government is making decisions.
  • Part 2 enacts the Canadian Energy Regulator Act and repeals the National Energy Board Act, establishing the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER), with the role of regulating the exploitation, development and transportation of energy within Parliament’s jurisdiction.
  • Part 3 amends the NPA to become the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. Amendments include requiring the Minister of Transport to consider any adverse effects on the rights of Indigenous peoples of Canada in making decisions.

Bill C-68 “amends the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence” and is aimed at: restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards; providing better certainty for industry; ensuring the long term sustainability of aquatic resources; making sure that the Fisheries Act provides strong and meaningful protection of fish and fish habitat; and promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Budget 2018 invested about $1B over five years to: support the proposed new IA system and CER; increase scientific capacity in federal departments and agencies; implement the changes required to protect water, fish and navigation; and increase Indigenous and public participation, as outlined in Bills C-68 and C-69.

It should be noted that Budget 2018 did not include funding for the MPMO. Instead, a decision was made that funding renewal for the Office would be considered separately and would include reviewing the Cabinet Directive that created the Office and the Initiative (Improving the Performance of the Regulatory System for Major Resource Projects). This was intended to identify MPMO activities that would no longer occur at the MPMO for resource projects subject to the proposed new impact assessment regime (e.g., Indigenous consultation on major pipelines), as well as the need for continuation of any current activities of the Office that are consistent with the proposed system. This work will be completed in 2019-20.

Interim Strategy for Pipelines and Other NEB Reviews

In addition to examining the funded activities of the MPMOI, the evaluation covered activities funded under the Interim Strategy for Pipelines and Other NEB Reviews. The objective of the Interim Strategy was to support Government commitments to restore public confidence in EA processes while the broader review of those processes, described in the preceding section, took place.

The Interim Strategy consisted of specific measures to ensure that reviews of major resource projects subject to NEB review aligned with principles announced by the Government of Canada in January 2016. The interim principles were to guide EAs for all major resource projects while the review of federal EA processes was underway.

The interim principles were as follows:

  • No proponent would be asked to return to the starting line;
  • Decisions would be based on science and traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples;
  • The views of the public and affected communities would be sought and considered;
  • Indigenous peoples would be meaningfully consulted and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated; and
  • Direct and upstream GHG emissions linked to the projects under review would be assessed.

As already noted, the Interim Strategy consisted of specific measures to ensure that reviews of major resource projects subject to NEB review aligned with the interim principles. A summary of these measures is provided in Table 3. NRCan, TC, and the NEB received funding under the Interim Strategy to implement these measures.

Overall, for projects subject to NEB review, the Interim Strategy was designed to address over-reliance on the NEB review process as a means of satisfying the duty to consult with Indigenous peoples, while expanding the scope and opportunities for public participation. It was also intended to demonstrate commitment to establishing nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous groups, while ensuring sufficient funding to support meaningful Indigenous participation in the NEB review process or Crown consultations.

Table 3 : Specific measures under the Interim Strategy
Measures under the Interim Strategy Projects
Trans Mountain Expansion Energy East Pipeline (EEP)Footnote 5 Enbridge Line 3 Replacement NOVA Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) Gas Pipeline System Expansion NGTL Towerbirch Pipeline Expansion Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Line ITC Lake Erie Connector
Expanded Crown consultations throughout the review process, including funding to support Indigenous participation through NEB and NRCan Indigenous PFPs X X X X X X X
Administering an online questionnaire for Canadians to share their views X X X X X X -
Project-specific assessment of upstream GHG emissions X X X X X - -
Appointment of a Ministerial Representative to engage communities, including Indigenous communities potentially affected by the project, to seek their views and report back to the Minister of Natural Resources X - - - - - -
Help facilitate expanded public input into the NEB review process, including public and community engagement activities by recommending the appointment of temporary members to the NEB - X - - - - -

Expected Results of the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy

According to the logic model for the MPMOI (see Appendix 1), its activities are expected to promote consistent whole-of-government approaches to Indigenous consultations, allow for integrated and coordinated EAs and regulatory reviews, and improve the federal EA and regulatory review process as well as increase the transparency and accountability of the process. This is expected to ensure Canada’s responsibilities around Indigenous consultations are fulfilled in a consistent, adequate, and meaningful fashion, and that EAs and regulatory reviews are high-quality, predictable, and timely. The MPMOI’s long-term outcome is to improve the performance of the federal EA and regulatory review process for major resource projects, thereby promoting responsible resource development in Canada.

The logic model for the Interim Strategy (see Appendix 2) indicates the Strategy is expected to help promote improved understanding of concerns voiced by the public and Indigenous groups, thereby facilitating efforts to accommodate them, where necessary. Ultimately, the Interim Strategy is expected to pave the way for decision-making around federally-regulated pipeline projects that are inclusive and effectively use evidence from Indigenous consultations and public engagement.

Table 4 provides the expected results from both logic models.

Table 4 : Expected results of the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy
Outcome MPMOI Interim Strategy
Immediate outcomes
  • Consistent, whole-of-government approach to Indigenous consultations
  • Integrated and coordinated EA and regulatory reviews
  • Increased transparency and accountability of the federal EA and regulatory process
  • Improved federal EA and regulatory review process
  • Implementation of the Interim Measures, e.g.:
    • deeper consultations with Indigenous groups
    • expansion of the NEB and NRCan Participant Funding Programs (PFPs)
    • appointment of temporary NEB members                                                       
Intermediate outcomes
  • Indigenous consultation responsibilities are fulfilled in a consistent, adequate and meaningful manner
  • High quality, predictable and timely EA and regulatory reviews
  • Improved understanding of concerns being brought forward by the public and Indigenous groups
  • Indigenous concerns are accommodated as appropriate
Long-term outcomes
  • Improve the performance of the federal EA and regulatory review process for major resource projects to support responsible resource development in Canada
  • Decision-making processes for federally regulated pipeline projects are inclusive and demonstrate effective use of evidence from Indigenous consultations and public engagement

Governance

The Deputy Ministers’ Major Projects Management Office Committee (DM MPMO) serves as the governance body for the MPMOI, including for activities funded through the Interim Strategy. It is chaired by the Deputy Minister (DM) of NRCan and includes, but is not limited to, DMs or equivalents from each of the five federal regulatory departments and agencies (CIRNAC-ISC, CEAA, DFO, ECCC, and TC), the President of the CNSC, and the Chief Executive Officer of the NEB. The Committee supports participating departments and agencies in meeting their mandate objectives; supports resolution of project-specific issues; oversees key policies, processes and procedures; tracks and monitors projects; and facilitates communication among departments and agencies. Individual DMs communicate Committee decisions to their respective departments and agencies. The DM MPMO typically meets monthly.

A parallel Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) committee structure also exists, which meets one to two times per month. The ADM Committee mirrors the DM MPMO and meets to discuss the same issues and, where appropriate, resolve them prior to the DM MPMO committee.

The MPMO supports the MPMOI governance structure by providing secretariat support to the ADM Committee and the DM MPMO.

In addition, Director General (DG) level meetings with representation from the above organizations were convened regularly during the period covered by this evaluation to coordinate activities and decision-making on key files.

Resources

For the period covered by this evaluation (2015-16 to 2017-18), for delivery of the MPMOI, and the Interim Strategy, departments and agencies were allocated approximately $94.0M. This is in addition to approximately $180M of existing departmental resources that these departments and agencies allocate to required lines of business related to major resource project reviews. This consisted of:

  • MPMOI. A total of $81.0M was allocated to the MPMOI from 2015-16 through 2017-18. This is in addition to existing resources totaling approximately $164.9M that was allocated to the reviews of major resource projects for these departments, for a total of $245.9M for the period covered by the evaluation.
  • Interim Strategy. A total of $13.0M was allocated to the Interim Strategy from 2016-17 through 2017-18. This is in addition to existing resources totaling approximately $15.7M, for a total of $28.7M for the period covered by the evaluation.

Details regarding resources allocated for both the MPMOI and Interim Strategy are provided in Appendix 3.

Evaluation Objective, Methods, and Limitations

The evaluation assessed the relevance and performance (effectiveness and efficiency) of the MPMOI, including the Interim Strategy, in response to a Treasury Board commitment for evaluation to inform future renewal. The evaluation examined the activities of program partners spanning a three-year period, from roughly 2015–16 to 2017–18.

It is important to recognize that although legislative changes provided for in Bill C-69 were not the focus of the evaluation, this study’s scope was extended to include an assessment of the ongoing and future need for the MPMOI in general and for the MPMO in particular within this new context. All findings in this regard reflect the Evaluation Team’s interpretation of the implications of Bill C-69 as it stood on June 20, 2018 when it was passed in the House of Commons.

Given the similarity in expected results between the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy, and to facilitate an efficient approach to reporting, an integrated set of three outcomes was established for purposes of the evaluation. These outcomes, which were approved by the Horizontal Evaluation Advisory Committee for this evaluation, were as follows:

  • Improved coordination of the regulatory review process for major resource projects;
  • Increased timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews; and
  • More coordinated, consistent and meaningful Indigenous and public consultations.

The evaluation used the following lines of evidence:

  1. Document and data review.This involved reviewing and synthesizing a wide range of internal and publicly-available documents and data sources (e.g., prior studies of the MPMOI, departmental reports, Speeches from the Throne, Mandate Letters, Budget Plans, program planning documents and financial data, internal communications, meeting materials, and documents relating to specific projects in the MPMOI portfolio and relating to Bill C-69).
  2. Key informant interviews.This involved 52 semi-structured key informant interviews with 68 individuals. These key informants included 26 interviews with 38 management and staff from participating departments (internal stakeholders), including DMs, and an additional 26 interviews with 30 external partners and stakeholders. External key informants included industry proponents and associations, Indigenous communities and organizations, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of provincial/territorial governments and provincially-based federal agencies.

Although case studies were originally planned to be conducted as part of the evaluation, ultimately a decision was made to proceed instead with a larger number of interviews in order to obtain perspectives from a broader range of stakeholders and partners. Appendix 4 provides a more detailed description of the evaluation approach.

The evaluation encountered several challenges and limitations during the execution of this study and implemented strategies to mitigate their impact wherever possible. An overview is presented in Table 5.

Table 5: Limitations to the Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies
Limitations Mitigation Strategies
  • The evaluation took place during a period of significant transition in the legislative and regulatory regime for federal EA and regulatory reviews. This presented particular challenges in the context of the key informant interviews, which were conducted over several months during or immediately following which numerous developments occurred, including the development and passing of legislation (e.g. Bill C-69) and a Federal Court of Appeal Decision overturning the approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion, that are likely to have implications for the MPMOI. Depending on when key informants were interviewed, these developments may have influenced the interview responses.
  • In addition to simply noting the unique circumstances during which this evaluation took place, the evaluation took steps to ensure that the Evaluation Team had a strong grasp of ongoing developments and staying up-to-date on relevant events as they occurred. Key informant interview data was analyzed with attention to the timing of the interviews.
  • The evaluation encountered numerous gaps in, and limitations with respect to, performance measurement and financial and human resource information.
  • The evaluation relied, wherever, possible on publicly available sources of information, although these often lacked the breadth and depth required to provide unequivocal responses to the evaluation questions. Qualitative data was used to supplement the available performance measurement information.
  • The evaluation encountered some difficulties in securing interviews with industry and Indigenous key informants.
  • Extra effort was made to ensure as much participation as possible by industry and Indigenous key informants, within the context of the evaluation timeline and resources. For example, the evaluation reached out to a large number of potential key informants and identified additional key informants when initial efforts to secure interviews were unsuccessful.
  • There was significant diversity of opinion among key informants. As a result, it was difficult to extract common themes in interview responses. This challenge was compounded by the relative lack of performance measurement information, which made it difficult to validate the interview findings.
  • In the context of this evaluation, the significant diversity of key informant opinion is a notable finding in itself. Notwithstanding data limitations, the evaluation relied on objective sources of information wherever possible, and did not draw conclusions on the basis of key informant information alone.

Findings

Relevance

Is there a continued need for the MPMOI and its main components?

Summary:
There is a continued need for departments and agencies to provide scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity to support major resource project reviews.

There is also widespread agreement that there is a continued need for the roles and responsibilities currently performed by the MPMO. Given recent legislative (i.e., Bill C-69) and other ongoing developments, it is essential to revisit and clarify the Office’s mandate at this time, including which bodies are best positioned to maintain these roles and responsibilities in the future. At present, it appears at least some of these will reside with the new Agency created by Bill C-69 (for example, serving as Crown Consultation Coordinator for designated projects), but any gaps should be proactively identified and addressed.

Regardless of the changes provided by Bill C-69, there is a clear ongoing need for scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity, as well as a continued need for the roles and responsibilities currently performed by the Office. Some of the Office’s roles and responsibilities will reside with the new Agency, but gaps could remain. There is a need to revisit and clarify the mandate of the Office now that Bill C-69 has come into force.

Continued need for scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity

Virtually all key informants agreed that there will be a continued need to fund scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity, even with Bill C-69 becoming law. The provision of capacity funding through the MPMOI was originally intended to support departments in fulfilling regulatory responsibilities associated with the conduct of EAs and other review activities (e.g., DFO’s and TC’s responsibilities under the Fisheries Act and NPA,respectively) while improving system performance, and, subsequently, to satisfy requirements laid out in CEAA 2012. Stakeholder perspectives suggest the need for these resources is not merely ongoing, but may conceivably become more pronounced with Bill C-69 due to the additional factors considered in assessments relative to CEAA 2012. These include, for example, health, social, and economic impacts, and any interactions thereof; assessments would also need to consider a broader range of potential impacts on Indigenous peoples than is now required, as well as issues relating to sex and/or gender and their intersection with other identity factors (Government of Canada, 2018b, p. 15). These changes are likely to affect the level and types of expertise needed within federal departments and agencies to support the proposed new IA process.

The federal government recognized the need for ongoing capacity funding in Budget 2018 by committing to increased scientific and technical capacity in federal departments and agencies, and increased Indigenous and public participation (see page 5 above).

Continued need for the Office (MPMO)

Overall, most key informants believed there was an ongoing need for the roles and responsibilities performed by the Office, regardless of whether the changes proposed by Bill C-69 were to become law. However, a few internal and external key informants were of the view that the need for a central coordinating body began to diminish in relevance as a result of CEAA 2012, and is likely to diminish further if a single entity becomes responsible for leading all IAs of designated projects under Bill C-69. Notably, internal key informants (i.e., departments and agencies involved in delivering the Initiative) were more likely than external respondents to believe there has been value-added in the roles and responsibilities performed by the Office in the past and that there is a continued need for them going forward.

Key informants who believe there is an ongoing need for the roles and responsibilities of the Office had differing views on where the Office should be housed in the future. Many believe most or all of the Office’s roles and responsibilities could, should, or would be transferred to IAAC. However, some raised concerns about potential gaps in coverage as well as potential conflicts of interest that could result. A few internal and external key informants warned about potential conflicts of interest that could result if the new Agency, as the regulatory authority, was not limited to providing procedural guidance, but was also responsible for (or perceived to be) collaborating with, advocating for and/or liaising on behalf of project proponents during the review process. That said, it is important to note that a few internal and external key informants raised concerns about conflict of interest in relation to the Office’s current location within NRCan, suggesting that it may be biased in favour of proponents as a result of the department’s economic development mandate. However, others suggested that NRCan’s relatively minor regulatory role limits the potential for conflict of interest.

A brief examination of the Office’s current roles and responsibilities against the proposed functions of the Agency suggests that while some of the Office’s current functions may fall to IAAC, some gaps may remain.Footnote 6 A detailed review of the roles and responsibilities of the Office against the proposed roles and responsibilities of the new Agency is required. The following mandated roles and responsibilities of the Office as described in the Program Profile (Table 1) are key areas that need to be reviewed:

  • Providing overarching project management and accountability for major resource projects, in order to ensure timely and predictable processes;
  • Overseeing the whole-of-government approach to Crown consultation; and
  • Providing horizontal leadership across the Government of Canada.

It is important to note that now that Bill C-69 has been passed into law, the responsibilities of the new Agency will only extend to new projects entering the review system. There would remain a number of projects that entered the system under CEAA 2012 that have not yet completed the review process and that may continue to move through the federal system under existing assessment processes. NRCan data indicate that as of April 2018, there were a total of 89 projects in various phases of the process, including two in the pre-EA phase, 58 in the EA phase, and 29 in the regulatory phase. There may, therefore, be a need for the Office to continue performing its existing roles and responsibilities in relation to these projects.

Is the MPMOI consistent with existing and proposed federal roles and responsibilities?

Summary:
The activities delivered through the MPMOI are consistent with the federal government’s existing statutory roles and responsibilities relating to provision of scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation support during EAs and regulatory reviews. To the extent that the changes under Bill C-69 do not fundamentally alter the federal government’s role in the EA and regulatory review process, the activities delivered through the Initiative are also broadly consistent with proposed federal roles and responsibilities. Bill C-69 affects the allocation of roles and responsibilities among some federal departments and agencies, particularly those of the Office, which are not currently established in legislation.

This evaluation echoes the 2012 evaluation’s conclusion that the federal government’s role in the MPMOI is appropriate given its statutory and regulatory responsibilities around EAs and regulatory reviews, as well as its duty to consult Indigenous peoples (NRCan, 2012a). Under CEAA 2012, CEAA, CNSC, and NEB manage the EA process for designated projects (i.e., those with the greatest potential for adverse environmental impacts) (CEAA, 2015a). Most of these projects fall under the responsibility of CEAA, but the CNSC and NEB are responsible for those regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, and the National Energy Board Act and Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, respectively. CEAA 2012 also continued a role in the EA for various other federal departments and agencies as expert federal authorities. In particular, section 20 of CEAA 2012 requires federal authorities that are in possession of specialist or expert information or knowledge with respect to a designated project that is subject to an EA to make that information or knowledge available, upon request.

The Crown has a duty under Subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 to consult Indigenous peoples when a project may adversely impact Aboriginal or treaty rights, in order to understand those impacts and find ways to accommodate Indigenous peoples’ continued exercise of those rights (Ariss, Fraser, & Somani, 2017). Paragraph 5(1)(c) of CEAA 2012 further requires that EAs account for projects’ impacts upon Indigenous peoples’ health and socioeconomic circumstances, physical and cultural heritage, use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and significant structures, sites, or objects (Government of Canada, 2012).

MPMOI activities and measures undertaken through the Interim Strategy are designed to assist program partners in fulfilling their legislated roles and responsibilities. For instance, resources for scientific and technical expertise support the obligation of federal authorities to provide specialist or expert information or knowledge with respect to designated projects subject to EAs, while funding for Indigenous consultation capacity helps program partners fulfill their duty to consult meaningfully with Indigenous peoples during project reviews. Although the Office’s responsibilities are not established in legislation but rather laid out in the Cabinet Directive, enhanced coordination among program partners should in principle promote an efficient and effective process, including achievement of the legislated time limits laid out in CEAA 2012.

Bill C-69 includes legislative changes that affect aspects of Canada’s regulatory regime for some major projects (Government of Canada, 2018a). These changes do not fundamentally alter the federal government’s role in the EA and regulatory review process. Therefore, the activities delivered through the MPMOI remain broadly consistent with federal roles and responsibilities. As described in the section on Continued Need, however, the passing of Bill C-69 and the implementation of the IARPs may lead to new or revised roles and responsibilities or reallocation of existing roles and responsibilities, among some federal departments and agencies involved in the MPMOI. In particular, Bill C-69 may affect the allocation of roles and responsibilities among federal departments and agencies, particularly those of the Office, which are not established in existing legislation.

Is the MPMOI aligned with current federal government priorities?

Summary:
The MPMOI and the Interim Strategy align with current federal priorities, including environmental protection, action on climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and promotion of positive economic outcomes. They also generally align with the priorities and core responsibilities of participating federal departments and agencies.

At its inception, the MPMOI was designed to address government priorities relating to economic growth, the health and safety of Canadians, and conservation of the environment. The 2007 Cabinet Directive noted that:

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing the challenges facing the federal regulatory system for major resource projects in order to help improve Canada’s competitiveness and enable more effective examination and mitigation of environmental, human health and social impacts. Providing a more efficient and effective regulatory system is key to creating the conditions for an innovative and prosperous economy, protecting the health and safety of Canadians and conserving the environment (Government of Canada, 2007).

In a similar vein, in its most recent Speech from the Throne in December 2015, the Government of Canada emphasized that “a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand” (Government of Canada, 2015). The Speech also articulated the government’s vision for a new EA system, specifically highlighting environmental protection, consultation with Indigenous peoples, public input, science-based decision-making, and restoration of public trust as major priorities and central elements of its vision. In 2016, the government further emphasized the priority it places on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by officially adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The vision articulated by the federal government in the 2015 Speech was subsequently reflected in the 2016 interim principles, as well as in the Interim Strategy. Program documents indicate that the introduction of the Interim Strategy was driven by the perceived need to achieve balance among environmental, Indigenous, and economic priorities in developing Canada’s natural resources, and that it was intended to help promote this objective in the immediate term until more permanent measures could be put in place. Ultimately, the federal government’s vision culminated in the development of Bill C-69. Further to this (as already noted above), Budget 2018 allocated about $1B over five years to support Bill C-69 as well as Bill C-68.

Most internal key informants regard the Initiative and the Interim Strategy as well-aligned with current federal priorities, noting that they are intended to balance environmental, economic and other objectives and that these priorities were explicitly laid out in the interim principles and in Bill C-69.

The Initiative and the Interim Strategy also align well with Ministerial mandates and the priorities and core responsibilities of participating federal departments and agencies. While Mandate Letters do not explicitly mention the Initiative or the Interim Strategy, they do contain frequent references to the government’s efforts to review and implement changes to the EA and regulatory processes, and, more generally, to the objective of promoting a “renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership” (Prime Minister of Canada, 2015a, 2015c, 2015d, 2015e, 2016a, 2017, 2018a, 2018b). Since the Interim Strategy was intended to support Ministers in fulfilling their assigned mandates until the government could complete its EA review and institute legislative changes based on the results, it is reasonable to conclude these mandates are aligned with the Interim Strategy. Alignment with program partners’ priorities and core responsibilities is evidenced by the finding that their roles and responsibilities under the Initiative (see page 3 above) align with their respective Departmental Results Frameworks (NRCan, 2018c).

Performance – Effectiveness

To what extent has the MPMOI, including the Interim Strategy, achieved its expected outcomes? To what degree did the MPMO contribute?

Improved coordination of the regulatory review process

Summary:

During the period covered by this evaluation, the Office and other Initiative partners engaged in a range of activities to coordinate the regulatory review process at both the project-level and at a horizontal-level within government. At the project level, Initiative partners worked with provincial regulators and proponents to coordinate activities during the review process. The use of Project Agreements – which were to be developed by the Office for all major resource projects in consultation with other Initiative partners and project proponents, and which were originally envisioned as the primary mechanism for achieving project-level coordination and accountability – has been superseded in most instances by departmental and agency guidelines and policies which outline common standards and processes. At the horizontal level, the Office contributed to improved coordination through its support for the Initiative governance structure, through its role in supporting the development of the draft Bill C-69, and through the provision of policy advice.

The evaluation was unable to conclude definitively on the extent to which coordination has improved since 2015-16 (the first year covered by the evaluation). This is because of a lack of baseline information and clear performance indicators to assess progress, as well as diverse perspectives among key informants on the extent to which this outcome has been achieved.

The evaluation found that the Office and other Initiative partners undertook a range of activities to improve the coordination of the regulatory review process for major resource projects, at both the project level and at a horizontal level within government, during the period covered by this evaluation. An overview of activities undertaken at each level is presented below, along with evidence regarding their impacts on system coordination.

Project-level coordination

Initiative partners engaged in a variety of activities to achieve project-level coordination during the period covered by the evaluation, as the following examples illustrate.

  • Approval conditions established by the federal government for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project included development of an Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) and Economic Pathways Partnership (NRCan, 2016d). The Office managed the process of implementing the approval conditions before this responsibility was transferred to the Indigenous Projects Office-West (IPO-West). This role included working with the proponent and representatives of CIRNAC-ISC and the NEB to establish the objectives and structure of these initiatives and stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities.
  • The Office and other Initiative partners collaborated with provincial governments on a number of project reviews carried out over the evaluation period, particularly in British Columbia (BC):
    • Phase IV consultations undertaken as part of the reviews of the Towerbirch Expansion Project and the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Project involved coordination between the Office and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) (MPMO, 2016c; MPMO & BC EAO, 2017).
    • The Office collaborated with initiative partners to ensure a harmonized approach to federal departments’ participation in NEB reviews. This included holding joint meetings with the proponent to inform what federal authorizations might be and what expertise would be relevant to the NEB review. It also included taking a common approach to participation in NEB hearings and filing evidence.
    • CEAA and the BC EAO engaged in information-sharing and collaborated on several components of the EA for the Murray River Coal Project, including the review of technical information and participation in joint meetings with some Indigenous groups (CEAA, 2016a, p. 33).
    • Initiative partners collaborated with the BC government to study and identify ways to mitigate the possible impacts of several proposed projects on the health of provincial Southern Mountain Caribou populations. MPMO served as the lead on caribou-related work until recently, but currently supports ECCC in this endeavour by
        • facilitating the preparation of documents and briefs;
        • participating in regular check-in calls and corresponding on dockets with ECCC; and
        • contributing to socio-economic analyses intended to inform decisions regarding protection and recovery for caribou.
  • In the case of the Sisson Tungsten-Molybdenum Mine, a transitional comprehensive study under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 1992), the MPMO liaised with the four implicated departments (CEAA, ECCC, DFO and NRCan) to facilitate discussions on how to approach the drafting of key EA documents to support the final EA decision. This was an important function for ensuring an efficiently coordinated review process.
  • In the case of the Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric development project, the MPMO took on the coordination role on behalf of federal departments with respect to the Independent Expert Advisory Committee. This committee was created as a result of concerns raised about the potential for methylmercury contamination resulting from the project in downstream waters. The MPMO represented the federal government during proceedings of this committee and provided a liaison function between that committee and interested Departments. This provided an effective means to ensure Departments were aware of issues raised at the committee while eliminating duplication of effort.

More generally, internal and external key informants noted instances in which the Office has improved coordination at the project level by liaising with Initiative partners on behalf of provincial regulators and/or proponents, and in helping to ensure permits and approvals are issued in a timely manner.

When the MPMOI was initially conceived, the Office was responsible for developing consensus-based Project Agreements for each major resource project that outline federal departments’ and agencies’ roles and responsibilities during the regulatory review process, thereby promoting project-level coordination and accountability (MPMO, 2014, 2017). Presumably for this reason, the MPMOI’s current performance measurement framework proposes tracking both the proportion of projects with signed Project Agreements (63% of the 89 projects in the MPMOI portfolio as of April 2018 (n=56) were supported by completed Project Agreements), as well as the proportion that are published online and monitored through the MPMO Tracker.

The use of Project Agreements has evolved over time, largely because time limits are incorporated into legislation and departmental/agency guidance and policies, reducing the need to specify them elsewhere. Correspondingly, the program responded to a recommendation from the 2012 evaluation to reduce administrative burden by transitioning from tailored to generic instruments. For similar reasons, the systematic review and updating of Project Agreements and the tracking of fulfillment of roles and responsibilities outlined therein has fallen off. However, Project Agreements remain important for projects where the NEB is the designated RA, where they clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Office and the NEB, primarily with respect to the Crown consultation process.

Horizontal coordination

The evaluation also found evidence that the Initiative, and the Office in particular, have contributed to horizontal policy and system-level coordination by supporting the MPMOI governance structure; coordinating activities related to the federal review of EA and regulatory processes, which facilitated the development of Bill C-69; and leading policy analysis on a range of subjects.

Many internal key informants believe the Office has made important contributions to horizontal coordination through its support for the MPMOI governance structure. A 2016-17 study conducted by NRCan on the MPMOI governance structure found that a large percentage of DMs or their delegates consistently described being satisfied or very satisfied with the advancement of advice on horizontal issues (NRCan, 2016b, 2017b). More specifically, survey respondents shared the view that the committee structure effectively supports the flow of information to senior managers and the advancement of advice on horizontal issues and that these, in turn, were essential given the complexity of the federal review system for major resource projects.

There is also evidence that the Office played an important role in coordinating activities related to the Government’s review of EA and regulatory processes leading to the development of Bill C-69. More specifically, the Office:

  • Developed, analysed and reported on an online survey of Canadians in 2016, intended to help inform the Government’s review of environmental and regulatory processes;
  • Led the development of a discussion paper outlining the proposed policy and program changes under consideration, along with an engagement plan for the public release of the discussion paper in June 2017;
  • Led the planning of a facilitated DM retreat in March 2017; and
  • Carried out work planning throughout winter 2017-18 to align departmental and agency activities associated with the proposed legislation (e.g., legislative drafting, announcement, communications strategy and engagement, etc.).

Finally, the Office led policy analysis on a range of subjects over the evaluation period, including opportunities to extend work in relation to cumulative effects in areas characterized by significant resource development activity (e.g., by facilitating access to geospatial data); species at risk (e.g., in relation to the application of conservation agreements under SARA in federal EAs); enhanced monitoring across the project lifecycle; and enhancing Indigenous engagement in project reviews as well as Indigenous communities’ capacity to share in the benefits of resource development. Several internal stakeholders spoke specifically to the value of the Office’s role in contributing to the review of EA and regulatory processes by addressing key issues and policy questions through collaboration with other program partners.

Improved coordination

Overall, the evaluation found examples of project-level and horizontal coordination, as described above. The evaluation also attempted to determine whether coordination improved between 2015-16 and 2017-18 but could not definitively draw a conclusion. This is, in part, because of the lack of baseline information and clear performance indicators for assessing progress in this regard. Moreover, key informants expressed diverse perspectives on the matter. Overall, internal key informants were more inclined than external key informants to believe that coordination – especially horizontal coordination – has improved over the period covered by this evaluation, citing the Office’s support for the governance structure and its contribution to the development of Bill C-69 to support their point of view. Others (including both internal and external key informants) believe the Office adds another layer of bureaucracy to the federal review system for major resource projects; that its roles and responsibilities are not clear relative to other Initiative partners or external stakeholders; or that it has few levers at its disposal to hold federal partners accountable for the achievement of program outcomes. A few (both internal and external) noted that the major gains in coordination had been made prior to 2015-16, and were primarily because of the implementation of CEAA 2012.

Improved timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews

Summary:
Due to limited data and divergent perspectives from key informants, the evaluation could not conclusively determine if timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews has improved over the evaluation period. Overall, internal key informants were more likely to perceive improvements compared to external key informants. A significant majority of external key informants as well as some internal key informants believe there continue to be opportunities for improvement:

  • Timeliness and predictability. Although federal partners are meeting legislated time limits, the total time elapsed between the initial project application and project regulatory decisions has not necessarily declined, and is highly variable across projects. Some industry representatives suggested that timelines may have increased, and predictability may have declined, with the introduction of the Interim Strategy requiring additional consultations and calculation of upstream GHG emissions.
  • Quality. Initiative partners are providing the specialized or expert information or knowledge required to inform EAs. Available documentation suggests scientific evidence is considered in review decisions and affects conditions imposed, and estimates of GHG emissions have been developed for projects under the Interim Strategy. Key informants have mixed reviews regarding the extent to which consideration of scientific evidence improved over the evaluation period, with a few describing opportunities to further enhance how scientific information is scoped, validated, or applied during major resource project reviews.
  • Transparency and accountability. There is evidence of various internal and public-facing tools to monitor, track, and report on performance. It is also evident that the desire to increase Canadians’ trust in the review system for major resource projects was a motivating factor underpinning many aspects of the design of the Interim Strategy and Bill C-69.

The evaluation could not determine if the timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews has improved during the period covered by this evaluation. Objective evidence to support conclusions is limited and key informants offered a variety of perspectives on the extent to which this outcome has been achieved.

Timeliness and predictability

Under CEAA 2012, an EA must be completed within a legislated timeframe (365 days for EAs conducted by CEAA and 24 months for EAs conducted by review panels). The time taken by the proponent to respond to a request from CEAA or a review panel (e.g., to prepare an environmental impact statement) is not counted in these time limits. The Minister of ECCC may extend the time limits by an additional three months, and the GIC may further extend them.

Available performance information shows that federal partners are meeting legislated time limits. All major resource projects completing the EA process met legislated time limits between 2015-16 and 2017-18, and service standards and regulated time limits were likewise met (NRCan, 2016b, 2017b, 2018b). However, based on available studies, it is unclear if the total time elapsed between the initial project application and the issuance of EA project decisions – a performance measure that is potentially more meaningful from the perspective of proponents – has declined over the period covered by this evaluation, or more broadly, since the introduction of legislated time limits under CEAA 2012. A relatively small number of studies have examined this issue, and these have reached seemingly contradictory conclusions:

  • An external study completed in 2018 concluded there is no evidence that overall time elapsed from initial project application to issuance of a final EA decision has improved since CEAA 2012.Footnote 7 This study included 14 major energy project reviews that were completed since January 1, 2010 or which were substantially underway as of June 2016; as such, it likely included projects initiated both pre- and post-CEAA 2012. The authors acknowledged that the results were suggestive and illustrative, rather than definitive, due to methodological issues such as the relatively small number of projects included and the need to make judgement calls about what projects to include and how to measure project start and end points (Drance, Cameron, & Hutton, 2018).
  • An internal analysis completed by the Office showed that transitional comprehensive studies (i.e., those initiated prior to 2012) took longer than EAs completed by CEAA under CEAA 2012 when considering federal and proponent time together. The average total calendar time for all transitional comprehensive studies (n=22) was 1,657 days (minimum 616 days to maximum 2,934 days). This compares with an average of 1,135 days for EAs completed by CEAA under CEAA 2012 (n=17) (minimum 514 days, maximum 1,969 days).Footnote 8
  • A February 2019 study published by the C.D. Howe Institute found that the average length of EA under CEAA 2012 has been “highly variable” (Bishop & Sprague, 2019, p. 25). Since 2015, durations for CEAA 2012 decisions completed in a given year have averaged from 2.4 to 3.0 years (calendar time), with wide variation across individual projects (p. 25). Most projects with a value of over $500M were completed within three years (median 2.6 years), but many larger projects had longer assessment times; for example, larger pipelines such as TMX have been “highly contentious and faced protracted timelines” (pp. 24-25). The study also noted that the duration of EAs is often prolonged by “clock stop” periods where the statutory timeline for completing the assessments pauses until the proponent adequately responds to a request for information.

Part of the explanation for these divergent findings is likely methodological: the studies have generally used small sample sizes and likely made different decisions about which projects should be included and how timeliness should be measured. Further, some degree of variability in timelines should be expected given differences in project scope and complexity. Nevertheless, this information suggests that there is a need for greater clarity about what timeliness and predictability mean in the context of major resource project reviews, as well as a need for a sustained effort, applying a consistent methodology, to collect relevant data pertaining to these outcomes in the future, should they remain a priority.

Furthermore, it is important not to overstate the MPMOI’s capacity to drive the timeliness (i.e., in terms of overall time elapsed, rather than in terms of how the concept is defined in legislation) and predictability of major resource project reviews, since these are influenced by factors that may lie outside the Initiative’s control. For instance, two recent studies – one conducted by the MPMO and the other by an external expert (Orenstein, 2018) – have concluded that stalled progress during reviews or voluntary termination by proponents are likely attributable at least in part to such factors. These include, for example, unfavourable market conditions; Canada’s attractiveness to investors; evolution in the country’s regulatory landscape; proponent changes to project design; and challenges experienced by proponents in satisfactorily responding to requests for information.Footnote 9 This is discussed in more detail in the section on Influencing Factors below.

Industry representatives who were interviewed as part of this evaluation typically did not perceive timeliness and predictability to have improved. In fact, some noted that changes introduced under the Interim Strategy, such as additional consultation requirements or the need to calculate upstream GHG emissions, have increased timelines and detracted from predictability. MPMO representatives acknowledged that while the need for additional consultation and GHG assessments increased timelines for some major pipeline projects, time limit extensions were required for only a minority of these projects and all extensions were consistent with the legislation.

Quality

Few key informants commented specifically on the issue of quality. Evidence relating to review quality relates primarily to a series of performance measures used by the Initiative in its performance reports to Parliament. These performance measures examine whether federal experts were consistently involved in reviews and whether environmental impacts were effectively mitigated. Available information indicates that:

  • All federal departments with specialist or expert information or knowledge relating to a designated project contributed information and knowledge to EAs upon request, as required under CEAA 2012 (NRCan, 2016b, 2017b, 2018b).
  • In 2016-17 and 2017-18, seven of nine reports received by CEAA regarding projects subject to follow-up and monitoring demonstrated that mitigation measures to address project-related environmental impacts were effective (NRCan, 2017b, 2018b).

Proponent compliance with conditions in a project’s EA decision statement was also identified by the Initiative as a performance measure relevant to quality. This information could conceivably be compiled on a project-by-project basis from publically available project-level documentation, but aggregate or summary information (i.e., overall proponent compliance rates across all projects) was not available, and it is unclear if these rates are periodically or regularly calculated by the implicated partner departments and agencies.

In the context of quality, it should be noted that two of the interim principles directly addressed the quality of regulatory reviews: 1) Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and other relevant evidence;Footnote 10 and 2) Direct and upstream GHG emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.

The available evidence indicates that for projects under the Interim Strategy, the NEB and the GIC considered scientific evidence in their deliberations, and this influenced the conditions imposed by the NEB. For example:

  • In the case of the 2017 NOVA Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) System Expansion, ECCC and DFO drew attention to the projects’ potential impacts on species at risk, migratory birds and/or their habitats (Government of Canada, 2016c).
  • HC provided evidence concerning the possible human health impacts of the projects under consideration, including acute and chronic health risks related to exposure to noise associated with the project (as in the NGTL 2017 System Expansion); on drinking/recreational water and country food that Indigenous communities may rely on (TMX); and on project-related impacts on air quality (both projects) (Government of Canada, 2016c, 2016a).
  • The NEB imposed a range of conditions to address the potential risks the 2017 NGTL System Expansion posed to the boreal caribou’s critical habitat, relating to habitat restoration, offset measures, monitoring, reporting, and cumulative impacts, which are incremental to the measures proposed by NGTL itself (Government of Canada, 2016a).

With regard to assessment of upstream GHG emissions, publicly-available, standalone reports prepared by ECCC during the evaluation period indicate that estimates of annual upstream emissions were developed for several projects under the Interim Strategy, including TMX, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement, the 2017 NGTL System Expansion, and the NGTL Towerbirch Expansion (ECCC, 2016a, 2016c, 2016b, 2017).

Interviewees had mixed views regarding the extent to which the MPMOI had contributed to increased consideration of scientific evidence in review decisions. Some argued this outcome had been achieved (citing, for example, the consideration of upstream GHG emissions or increased focus on caribou populations); others, meanwhile, perceived no marked improvement, although this was often accompanied by the caveat that scientific evidence was already being considered during reviews prior to the evaluation period. In a few instances, however, scientific information was described as being inappropriately scoped, validated, or applied—primarily in relation to the calculation of GHG emissions. For instance, some external respondents expressed concern about the appropriateness of the methodology selected for calculating upstream GHG emissions,Footnote 11 or, with reference to the TMX review, argued that some activities were arbitrarily excluded from the calculation of emissions or that the (November 2016) approval decision did not satisfactorily reference scientific evidence and did not compellingly demonstrate how approval was consistent with Canada’s climate change commitments.

Transparency and accountability

With respect to transparency and accountability, a variety of internal and public-facing tools were used to monitor, track and report on the performance of the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy over the evaluation period. Furthermore, the MPMO acted on a recommendation from the 2012 evaluation to enhance the MPMO Tracker to help users determine if review timelines are being achieved and identify responsibility for review tasks or milestones (NRCan, 2012a). Despite these changes, it remains challenging to use the Tracker in a meaningful way. This issue, along with related performance measurement issues pertinent to transparency, is discussed in more detail in the discussion of Performance Measurement below.

Internal documents related to the review of EA processes (dating to mid-2017) identified ongoing issues perceived to contribute to continued public mistrust in the review system for major resource projects, including: lack of ready access to information about EAs; lack of clarity for the rationale behind review decisions; and lack of meaningful consultation enabling the public to influence review outcomes. Review of program documentation indicates many of these issues were explicitly considered in the design of the Interim Strategy, and also conveys the federal government’s view that more fundamental changes would be required to fully address them (NRCan, 2016a). Correspondingly, these same issues figure prominently in the design of the proposed new review system.

Overall, key informants offered diverse perspectives on the extent to which this outcome has been achieved, with internal key informants more likely overall than external key informants to perceive progress over the evaluation period. Those who believe progress has been made attributed it to what they perceived as improved coordination and collaboration, including better tracking of project progress through the review system and proactive identification and management of issues. Some key informants specifically highlighted what they perceived as the Office’s contribution in this regard, praising its work in convening key stakeholders to discuss project-related issues, promoting accountability, acting as a single window for industry, and otherwise helping to shepherd projects through the federal review process.

Nearly all external key informants as well as some internal key informants believe progress has been minimal and/or that significant opportunities for improvement remain despite actions taken in response to the 2012 evaluation. With regard to transparency in particular, some key informants noted that it remains unclear precisely how the government arrives at final review decisions.

More coordinated, consistent and meaningful Indigenous and public consultations

Summary:

Although limited performance measurement information is available, there is some evidence to indicate that progress has been made in achieving more coordinated, consistent, and meaningful Indigenous, and for some departments, public consultations. Key informants interviewed as part of this evaluation were divided as to whether this outcome had been achieved; the same observation applies to Indigenous key informants, although most of the latter believe that at least some elements of consultation processes are effective or have improved. Those perceiving progress attribute this to such factors as government policy direction, resources available through the PFPs or the Interim Strategy, the MPMO’s role as the Crown Consultation Coordinator for NEB projects, and/or the establishment of IAMCs.

Although two Federal Court of Appeal decisions during the period covered by this evaluation overturned project approvals (for the Northern Gateway and TMX projects) because (in part) the federal government failed to fulfill the duty to consult, the Court observed significant improvements in the TMX consultation compared to earlier project reviews. In other instances, the Court has ruled in the Crown’s favour, concluding the duty to consult had been discharged appropriately.

In summary, therefore, the evidence suggests further efforts are required to build upon progress achieved to date. Areas for future improvement include clarifying consultation roles, responsibilities, and concepts; assisting proponents and Indigenous peoples to navigate consultation processes; engaging Indigenous peoples in designing these processes; and more clearly conveying how input has been considered in review decisions.

Available evidence indicates that activities were undertaken through the Initiative and the Interim Strategy to improve the coordination, consistency and meaningfulness of Indigenous and public consultations. There is evidence, for example, that the Initiative uses various mechanisms to solicit the input of Indigenous peoples and the public. MPMOI projects listed in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry typically include a wide variety of materials that relate to public participation opportunities, such as invitations to comment on summaries of Project Descriptions, Environmental Impact Statements, and announcements regarding the availability of PFP funding.

There is also evidence that Indigenous communities and groups are participating in consultations related to major resource projects. For example, publicly available Crown Consultation and Accommodation Reports (CCARs), prepared for relevant projects, summarize how the proponent, the NEB and the MPMO engaged Indigenous peoples at various stages in the review process, and describe the key findings from the consultations; similar information is provided in EA Reports prepared by the CEAA. Similarly, data provided by the NEB and the Office for four projects under the Interim Strategy indicate that Indigenous groups and communities participated in consultations for these projects.

However, the proportion of potentially affected Indigenous communities/groups that actually participated in consultations (i.e., participation rate) during the period covered by this evaluation is not readily available for consultations administered by the Crown.Footnote 12

Analysing review decisions for four projects subject to the Interim Strategy shows that evidence from Indigenous consultations and public engagement was considered, and that review decisions included some accommodation of concerns expressed by Indigenous groups (Government of Canada, 2016c, 2016a, 2016b, 2016d, 2017a; MPMO, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c; MPMO & BC EAO, 2017).Footnote 13 For example:

  • During the review of the 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project, the NEB imposed several conditions to address Indigenous peoples’ concerns that the proponent’s emergency response capability was inadequate. These included requiring NGTL to file a Project-Specific Emergency Response and Management Plan and to maintain updated Emergency Procedures and Construction Safety Manuals. The Crown and the GIC concluded that the NEB conditions should, in combination with the proponent’s own emergency response measures, ensure pipeline failures and accidents are addressed appropriately.
  • During the review of the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project, the NEB imposed 23 conditions to address Indigenous peoples’ concerns about the project’s impacts on their use of the land and on sites of cultural significance. These included completing land use studies and ongoing consultation with Indigenous groups. The Crown perceived the NEB conditions and the proponent’s own commitments should minimize impacts on Indigenous peoples, adding there is ongoing interest by Indigenous groups in formally monitoring these impacts post-construction. This observation eventually culminated in the establishment of an IAMC for the project, marking one of the first times such an accommodation measure had been implemented. The GIC concluded consultations undertaken as part of the review had been “consistent with the honour of the Crown and that the concerns and interests [of Indigenous Peoples, as identified in the CCAR] have been appropriately accommodated” (Government of Canada, 2016b), noting support for the project among other members of the public.Footnote 14

Similarly, analysis of review decisions for nine projects in which CEAA was the Crown Consultation Coordinator indicates that evidence from Indigenous and public consultations was considered, and that decisions included accommodation of concerns expressed by Indigenous groups (CEAA, 2015b, 2015c, 2016b, 2017a, 2017b, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2019).Footnote 15 For example:

  • The Decision Statement for the Whabouchi Mine Project imposed several conditions to mitigate adverse effects of the project, including (but not limited to) a monitoring program for wildlife species of interest to the Cree Nation of Nemaska, a program for the management of beaver and black bear, and a program for the recuperation of harvested wood for the use of the Cree Nation of Nemaska, as well as conditions for the preservation of physical or cultural heritage (e.g., archeological artifacts).
  • The Decision Statement for the Murray River Coal Project imposed numerous conditions to address concerns raised by Indigenous communities with respect to use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, including (among many others) conditions to preserve access to sacred sites and camping sites and traditional and medicinal plants; to mitigate the adverse environmental effects of the project on the critical habitat for the Quintette herd of southern mountain caribou; and to preserve physical and cultural heritage.

Despite these examples of consultation and accommodation, information on the extent to which Indigenous peoples considered the consultations to be meaningful and the review decisions to adequately accommodate their concerns is not routinely collected. As a result, relevant information was not available to directly assess whether the outcome has been achieved. This is discussed in more detail in the section on Performance Measurement.

Key informants interviewed as part of this evaluation were divided about whether Indigenous and public consultations have become more coordinated, consistent and meaningful over the period covered by this evaluation. As with other outcomes, internal key informants were more inclined than external key informants to believe improvements have occurred. Key informants who perceive improvements noted that consultations have been consistent, well-coordinated, and thorough; they attributed this to the policy direction provided by the government, the resources provided through PFPs or the Interim Strategy, or the Office’s role as Crown Consultation Coordinator and its efforts to promote a whole-of-government approach to consultation.

Although Indigenous key informants had mixed views, most believe that at least some elements of consultation processes are effective or have improved. For example, some commented positively on the implementation of the IAMCs in relation to the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project and TMX, the availability of funding to support Indigenous communities’ own studies concerning projects under consideration (e.g., implementation of traditional land use mapping research), and the ability to meet directly with Crown representatives who were seen as independent and could validate the consultations performed by the NEB (e.g., to ensure no Indigenous groups or concerns were overlooked during the earlier round of consultations).

Many key informants across all categories believe further improvements are needed. Specific areas for improvement identified by key informants include:

  • earlier input by Indigenous peoples, including greater ability to design the consultation process;
  • clear definitions of key terms (e.g., “free, prior and informed consent”, “meaningful consultation”);Footnote 16
  • assistance for proponents on carrying out meaningful consultations (e.g., guidance on what standards proponents must meet to ensure meaningful consultation or satisfactory accommodation of concerns);
  • protocols to mediate disputes when Indigenous peoples do not agree; and
  • clearer demonstration of how input has been considered in review decisions.

Consistent with the findings from this evaluation, a report to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs on Building Relationships and Advancing Reconciliation through Meaningful Consultation (Gray, 2016) found that, despite improvement over past approaches, there is an ongoing need to improve coordination across the federal government with regard to Indigenous consultations.Footnote 17 This report complimented the government’s efforts in the context of major projects and specifically referenced the MPMO, but noted that its capacity to enhance coordination is limited by its resources and a lack of “teeth” (Gray, 2016, secs. I, VI). The report also identified an unmet need for oversight and coordination of consultation activities in the project permitting phase.

Likewise, court decisions during the period covered by this evaluation support the conclusion that the federal government’s approach to Indigenous consultations has improved, although further opportunities for improvements remain. The February 2019 report by the C.D. Howe Institute noted that of 15 final decisions on judicial challenges since 2012 concerning EAs initiated under CEAA 2012 or CEAA 1992, eight concerned the duty to consult (Bishop & Sprague, 2019, p. 21). In three decisions – TMX (2018), Seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait (2017), and the Northern Gateway Pipeline project (2016) – the project approval was quashed, and in each of these three cases, the decision concerned, at least in part, the federal government’s failure to fulfill its duty to consult affected Indigenous peoples.Footnote 18

In Gitxaala Nation v. Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project on June 23, 2016, on the grounds that Canada had not fulfilled its duty to consult with Indigenous peoples (Gitxaala Nation et al., 2016; McCarthy & Lewis, 2016; Proctor, 2016). The Court based its decision on the judgement that while the Order in Council (OIC) was acceptable and defensible, it should not have been issued without Canada first having fulfilled the duty to consult with Indigenous peoples, an exercise that the Court said was satisfactory in its design but lacking in its execution. More specifically, the Court concluded that Canada offered “only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity [during the Crown Consultation phase]—a critical part of Canada’s consultation framework—to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue” (Gitxaala Nation et al., 2016, p. 132), culminating in a process that failed to address many issues of concern to Indigenous participants. The project application was ultimately dismissed after the government concluded that the project was not in the interest of Canadians (Prime Minister of Canada, 2016b).

Similarly, in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada, which overturned the approval of the TMX project, the Federal Court of Appeal observed that Indigenous consultations had been well-planned, but that there had been issues with their implementation (Federal Court of Appeal, 2018). In particular, the Court noted that meaningful consultation requires careful consideration of, and responsiveness to, concerns and issues brought forward by Indigenous participants, and noted that the Crown had regarded its role as limited to documenting and conveying those issues and concerns to decision-makers (Tsleil-Waututh Nation et al., 2018). This observation is virtually identical to the one offered by the Court in Gitxaala Nation v. Canada (Gitxaala Nation et al., 2016, p. 116). However, the Court acknowledged significant improvements in the TMX consultation compared to earlier project reviews, such as the Crown’s responsiveness to requests for information or time extensions and its willingness to disclose its assessment of the strength of Indigenous parties’ claim to rights or title or of the projects’ impacts (Tsleil-Waututh Nation et al., 2018, pp. 187–188).Footnote 19

In other instances, meanwhile, courts have ruled that the Crown has engaged in reasonable efforts to discharge its duty to consult. In Bigstone Cree Nation v. Nova Gas Transmission Ltd., for instance, the Federal Court of Appeal concluded that both the NEB and the Crown had satisfactorily consulted with Bigstone in relation to the approval of the 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project (Bigstone Cree Nation, Nova Gas Transmission Ltd., Attorney General of Canada, & NEB, 2018). Among other findings, they conclude that Bigstone’s assertion that Phase IV consultations administered by the Crown were not meaningful is not substantiated by the available evidence, noting, for example, that Canada “clearly appears to have been open to suggestions of accommodation and mitigation measures” (p. 30); that the MPMO gave Bigstone ample opportunity to verify that its concerns had been properly documented and that the evidence it provided was incorporated into decision-making processes (p. 31); and that the Crown specifically endorsed Conditions proposed by the NEB to mitigate the project’s impacts on Caribou and Caribou habitat, which was perceived to constitute Bigstone’s most serious concern with the 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project (pp. 27, 35-37).

To what extent have internal and external factors influenced the ability of the MPMOI to achieve its expected outcomes?

Summary:
The evaluation identified numerous internal and external factors that influence the ability of the MPMOI to achieve its expected outcomes. Factors that facilitate outcome achievement include the coordinating role of the MPMO; the availability of funding for scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity; and the availability of PFP funding to support Indigenous participation in consultation. Factors that may hinder outcome achievement include the clarity of the MPMO’s mandate and increased public expectations in relation to project reviews, among others. Some factors – such as prevailing economic/market conditions and government priorities – may either facilitate or hinder the ability of the MPMOI to achieve its expected outcomes depending on the context. Recognizing that the MPMOI may have limited or no ability to mitigate some external factors (such as unfavourable market conditions), these factors should be understood and mitigated, where possible, to optimize the ability of the Initiative to achieve its expected outcomes.

Multiple factors, both internal and external to the Initiative, influence the ability of the Initiative to achieve its expected outcomes. Recognizing that the Initiative may have limited or no ability to mitigate the influence of some external factors, these factors should be understood and mitigated, where possible, to optimize the ability of the Initiative to achieve its expected outcomes. Factors that may have influenced the Initiative’s ability to achieve its expected outcomes include the following:

  • Role of the MPMO. Some key informants believe the coordination and facilitation roles of the MPMO as well as its support for the EA and regulatory review have facilitated the achievement of expected outcomes. A few suggested the MPMO’s ability to facilitate the achievement of expected outcomes would be enhanced by clearly articulating its roles and responsibilities relative to other MPMOI partners, thereby limiting potential for overlap and duplication.
  • Capacity and resources. Key informants generally agree that the availability of funding for departments and agencies to provide scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity, as well as the availability of funding, through PFPs, to support Indigenous consultation capacity, has facilitated the achievement of expected outcomes (although some noted that PFP funding to support Indigenous consultations is insufficient relative to the need). However, some key informants identified capacity issues that in their view have hindered the achievement of outcomes. Internal to the Initiative, these include turnover and perceived lack of sufficient knowledge, expertise and experience among MPMO staff. External to the Initiative, it was observed that varying levels of capacity among proponents to respond to information requests during EAs can affect the overall timeliness and predictability of major resource project reviews.
  • Public expectations. Key informants observed that evolving public awareness and understanding of Indigenous and public consultations (including involvement by Indigenous communities in informing both project development and the consultation process), has increased expectations with regard to the consultation process and outcomes, and made it more challenging for the federal government to meet these expectations. Key informants pointed out that these challenges exist, at least in part, because key concepts and terms relevant to Indigenous consultations (e.g., “free, prior and informed consent”; “meaningful consultation”) have not been clearly defined. As another example, key informants noted that review decisions do not always clearly articulate how or if Indigenous concerns have been accommodated.
  • Economic/market conditions. Economic factors can affect achievement of outcomes by affecting the financial viability of current or proposed projects. For instance, fluctuations in the prices of a particular commodity (e.g., natural gas or a rare earth element) or in the cost of a key input (e.g., labour or capital) can influence willingness to invest in a major resource project. For instance, analysis of data from the Major Projects Inventory and other indicators suggests that lower commodity prices in 2016 contributed to reduced capital investment and project delays and cancellations among energy and mining firms, whereas a subsequent upswing in prices produced the opposite result (NRCan, 2017a, p. 5).
  • Government priorities. Program documentation suggests the Interim Strategy measures and the ongoing review of EA and regulatory processes (up to and including the changes proposed in Bill C-69), reflect a change in federal priorities that emphasize the importance of objectives such as reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and mitigation of/adaptation to climate change. This significantly impacted how federal reviews were undertaken over the evaluation period—as exemplified by the provision of funding for expanded public and Indigenous consultations and the preparation of upstream GHG emission assessments for certain projects. Given the complex regulatory environment for major resource projects, priorities at the provincial/territorial level can also potentially affect the Initiative in significant ways.

The influence of external factors was highlighted in two recent studies – one conducted by the MPMO and the other by an external expert (Orenstein, 2018) – that examined trends over time in the number of projects in various phases of the regulatory review process within the MPMOI portfolio. Both studies found that a sizable number of major resource projects have stalled at some point in the review process or have been voluntarily terminated by proponents, and concluded that this trend could be driven by a range of external factors, such as unfavourable market conditions, Canada’s overall attractiveness to investors, evolution in the country’s regulatory landscape, and challenges experienced by proponents during the review process (such as the need to respond to frequent requests for information), among others.

It is also worth noting that an earlier study completed in 2014 noted that the MPMOI’s capacity to promote the timeliness of federal review processes for major resource projects may be inherently limited as a consequence of factors that are partly or wholly unrelated to coordination and largely outside the program’s control (PRA Inc., 2014).

Have there been any unintended outcomes (positive or negative) as a result of the Initiative?

Summary:
The evaluation identified both positive and negative unintended outcomes resulting from the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy. The positive outcome relates to increased public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the regulatory review process for major resource projects. The negative unintended outcome relates to challenges for the federal government in satisfying increased expectations for EA and regulatory review processes for major resource projects.

Both positive and negative unintended outcomes may be attributable to the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy, although some are likely driven, at least in part, by factors beyond the program’s control. The main positive unintended outcome identified by key informants is increased public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the regulatory review process for major resource projects.

One unintended outcome identified through the document review and key informant interviews is that the Interim Strategy and the federal review of EA and regulatory processes may have increased public and stakeholder expectations—particularly with respect to public and Indigenous consultations—which the government may find challenging to satisfy.

In addition, Eyford (2013) has argued that an integrated whole-of-government approach may formalize consultation processes in ways that negatively impact dialogue between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.Footnote 20 For example, it can make participation more costly for Indigenous peoples, and result in proceedings that are overly technical and potentially adversarial.

The introduction of legislated time limits may further exacerbate capacity constraints experienced by Indigenous peoples while also limiting the scope of issues that consultations can address. In Gitxaala Nation v. Canada, for example, the Federal Court of Appeal noted Indigenous peoples perceived timelines set aside for the Northern Gateway pipeline project consultations as too short to promote meaningful outcomes, adding that the legislation-driven nature of the timelines meant requests for extension relied upon Ministerial approval that was not always granted (Gitxaala Nation et al., 2016, pp. 103–104). Similarly, in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada, the Court observed that Indigenous communities involved in the TMX review cited the extremely restrictive nature of the NEB’s legislated time limits as an impediment to meaningful consultation, noting that these did not afford sufficient time for communities to develop a comprehensive understanding of the project under consideration or participate in the review process (Tsleil-Waututh Nation et al., 2018, p. 205).

Performance – Efficiency

Is the design of the MPMOI appropriate for achieving its expected outcomes?

Summary:
To the extent that it provided support to federal departments and agencies to fulfill their statutory obligations in relation to major resource project reviews, the design of the MPMOI was appropriate for the period covered by this evaluation.

While there is clearly evidence of improvement in some areas, the study could not conclusively determine if the Initiative has been successful in achieving all expected outcomes; this, however, may be attributable largely to the limited performance measurement information available to support this evaluation. Moreover, while opportunities to improve the Initiative’s design may exist, given the wide range of factors that likely influence outcome achievement, it is not clear that any alternative model would have been more effective. 

Moving forward, there is a need to determine whether the Office or a similar entity is an appropriate or necessary element of the future design of the Initiative, and if so, what its specific roles and responsibilities should be.

Broadly speaking, to the extent that activities funded and delivered under the Initiative are required by federal legislation, the design of the MPMOI was largely appropriate for the period covered by this evaluation.

Resources for scientific and technical capacity position federal authorities to provide expertise, knowledge and information during EAs, as required under CEAA 2012, while funding for Indigenous consultation capacity assists federal departments and agencies in fulfilling their duty to consult with Indigenous peoples during project reviews, pursuant to section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Moreover, internal and external key informants agree that funding for scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity is essential to the ability of Initiative partners to carry out their legislated roles and responsibilities.

Although the office and its roles/responsibilities are established through a Cabinet Directive rather than in legislation, it is intended to help the federal government meet its statutory obligations. From this broad perspective, these roles and responsibilities can be considered as appropriate elements of the overall Initiative design for the period covered by this evaluation. As was discussed in detail in the section on Continued Need, although most key informants agreed there is an ongoing need for the roles and responsibilities performed by the Office, they disagreed on where these roles and responsibilities should be housed in the future and whether there is still a need for the Office as a distinct entity – particularly since some of its roles and responsibilities, at the time, were likely to be transferred to IAAC if the changes proposed in Bill C-69 became law. Moreover, various concerns were raised about the Office, including lack of clarity with regard to its roles and responsibilities relative to other partner departments and agencies, as well as lack of authority to hold federal partners accountable for the achievement of expected outcomes. Given these considerations, there is a need to determine whether the Office or a similar entity is an appropriate or necessary element of the future design of the Initiative, and if so, what its specific roles and responsibilities should be.

Overall, therefore, the design of the Initiative was appropriate for the period covered by this evaluation, to the extent that it provided support to federal departments and agencies to fulfill their statutory obligations in relation to major resource project reviews. However, as discussed in the Effectiveness section of this report, the evaluation could not conclusively determine if the Initiative was successful in achieving all expected outcomes, although there is clearly evidence of improvement in some areas. While this could suggest opportunities to further enhance the design of the Initiative, it is at least as likely to speak to the limited performance information available to support this evaluation (see p. 41 below). Furthermore, while opportunities to further enhance the Initiative’s design may exist, considering the wide range of factors that likely influence outcome achievement, it is not clear that any alternative model (such as those outlined in the next section) would have been more effective.

A certain degree of tension is inherent in the design of the Initiative, arising from its efforts to achieve two distinct objectives in response to statutory obligations as well as current federal policy direction. A key challenge for the Initiative is balancing the MPMOI goals of enhancing the timeliness and predictability of major resource project reviews, and achieving a more thorough review process in which stakeholders and partners are meaningfully consulted and all relevant evidence is considered in review decisions. This challenge arises because activities like generation, collection and analysis of scientific evidence, administration of public and Indigenous consultations, and analysis of evidence from consultations require considerable time to complete and may be subject to interruptions and delays that cannot necessarily be foreseen. Although it may not be possible to resolve this tension through changes to Initiative design alone, it may be possible to mitigate it by clarifying and improving understanding of, key aspects and requirements of the review process.

Is the program operating efficiently? Are there alternative approaches or models that would be more efficient or effective at achieving the expected outcomes?

Summary:
The evaluation is unable to assess whether the Initiative and the Interim Strategy are operating efficiently due to limited objective information on resource use, outputs, and expected outcomes. Although key informants gave a wide range of suggestions for improving effectiveness and efficiency, there is no evidence these would be more efficient or effective at achieving expected outcomes.

Resource use

Due to limited financial and human resource information, the evaluation can infer very little about resource use and efficiency in relation to the Initiative and the Interim Strategy. For new funding allocated to the Initiative (i.e., excluding the Interim Strategy), actual spending was close to, but consistently less than, planned spending over the period covered by the evaluation, as shown in Table 6.

Table 6: Planned versus actual MPMOI Expenditures ($ millions), new funding, 2015–16 to 2017–18
Federal Organization 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 Total
Planned Actual Planned Actual Planned Actual Planned Actual
CEA Agency $8.00 $8.00 $8.00 $7.82 $8.20 $8.00 $24.20 $23.82
DFO $7.00 $6.87 $7.00 $6.79 $7.01 $6.91 $21.01 $20.58
ECCC $2.50 $2.53 $2.50 $2.34 $2.50 $2.26 $7.50 $7.13
INAC $1.80 $1.73 $1.80 $1.75 $1.80 $1.73 $5.40 $5.20
NRCan $4.20 $4.39 $4.20 $3.65 $4.00 $3.90 $12.40 $11.94
TC $3.50 $3.26 $3.50 $3.15 $3.50 $3.18 $10.50 $9.59
Total $27.00 $26.77 $27.00 $25.49 $27.01 $25.99 $81.01 $78.26
Sources: Internal program documentation; NRCan (2016c, 2017c, 2018b)

These figures do not include $164.9M in existing funding allocated to the review of major resource projects over the same period, for which actual spending data was not available, and therefore do not reflect the full cost of major resource project reviews. Furthermore, a detailed breakdown based on the MPMOI’s five main funded activities (see Table 2 in the Program Profile) is not available. NRCan funding represents the funding provided for the Office.

Information on planned and actual spending for the Interim Strategy is presented in Table 7 . Overall, actual expenditures were lower than planned for all three funded departments and agencies, presumably due primarily to the timing and cancellation of the Energy East Pipeline (EEP) project by the proponent.

Table 7 : Planned versus actual Interim Strategy expenditures ($ millions), 2016–17 to 2017–18
Federal organization 2016-17 2017-18 Total
Planned Actual Planned Actual Planned Actual
NEB a$0.92 $0.43 $4.74 $2.36 $5.65 $2.79
NRCan b$2.85 $1.92 b$2.61 $1.54 b$5.47 $3.45
TC $0.18 $0.18 $0.43 $0.00 $0.61 $0.18
Total $3.95 $2.53 $7.78 $3.90 $11.73 $6.43
Notes:
a – The NEB did not access $1M in funding allocated in the TB Submission for the Interim Strategy
b – These figures differ from Table 10 because NRCan transferred resources to CEAA to support the administration of the PFP program.
Source:Internal program documentation

These figures do not include $15.3M in existing funding allocated to the review of major resource projects subject to the Interim Strategy over the same period; as above, therefore, they do not reflect the full cost of administering reviews of these projects.
The total number of actual full-time equivalents (FTEs) allocated to the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy for each year, by department/agency, is shown in Table 8. On average, approximately 191 FTEs per year were allocated to the Initiative and the Interim Strategy.

Table 8 : Actual FTEs by department/agency, MPMOI and Interim Strategy, 2015–16 to 2017–18
Federal Organization 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
CEA Agency 61.0 62.0 60.0
CIRNAC-ISC 12.0 12.0 12.0
DFOa 42.0 42.0 42.0
ECCC 16.2 16.2 16.2
NEB b- 6.4 8.2
NRCan – MPMO 28.1 35.0 27.2
TC 25.6 26.2 22.3
Total 185.0 199.8 187.8
Notes:
a – DFO figures exclude A-base FTEs used to support the review of major resource projects.
b – FTE figures are not available prior to 2016-17, as NEB was only funded through the Interim Strategy.
Source: Internal program documentation

Although there is some information on how financial and human resources were allocated and used to support Initiative and Interim Strategy activities (as reported above), the level of detail is insufficient to support conclusions about efficiency. Based on the available data, for example, it is not possible to estimate a cost per unit of output or level of outcome achieved; more detailed resource utilization data would be necessary to support estimates of the cost of an “average” review, or elements of it. Furthermore, there is no straightforward way to quantify coordination or meaningful consultation, and no obvious baselines against which efficiency could be compared. Overall, therefore, data limitations preclude quantitative assessment of efficiency.

Some key informants raised concerns about efficiency, relating specifically to the MPMO. In particular, concerns were raised about significant turnover and perceived lack of knowledge, expertise and experience among MPMO staff, especially in relation to specific resource extraction sectors and Indigenous consultations. With regard to Indigenous consultations, it was noted that MPMO does not necessarily have the knowledge and experience to consult Indigenous peoples without support from other federal departments and agencies.Footnote 21 As a result, the latter are often required to represent themselves during consultations. However, the hiring of Consultation Coordinators located in the regions where consultation was being undertaken was viewed as a positive step.

Alternative designs or approaches

When asked to identify potential alternatives to the Initiative that would be more effective or efficient at achieving the expected outcomes, key informants gave a wide range of responses.

Many key informants (both internal and external) focused their suggestions on the Office. One view was that some or all of the Office’s roles and responsibilities could or should be assumed by other departments or agencies. Others (largely but not exclusively internal) argued the current approach should be preserved, at least in the short run (e.g., to support the transition to the new review system under Bill C-69). However, a subset of these individuals suggested efficiency and effectiveness could potentially be improved through enhancements to the Office, in particular by providing it with a more robust mandate that is sufficiently well-articulated to mitigate the risk of overlap and duplication with other federal departments and agencies and that provides the Office with the authority needed to facilitate achievement of the Initiative’s outcomes without interfering with the legislative roles and responsibilities of partner departments and agencies. A specific example of the latter might include requiring federal departments and agencies to collaborate, coordinate, and participate in an MPMO-administered issues resolution mechanism.

Other miscellaneous suggestions to improve efficiency and effectiveness, which did not directly relate to the Office, included enhancing coordination with provincial regulators (e.g., continuing to work towards coordinated or harmonized reviews); engaging Indigenous peoples as early as possible during the review process (possibly up to and including extending greater autonomy to design and administer consultations); ensuring consultation participants have sufficient capacity to support the process, maintain a shared understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities, and can ultimately see their input reflected in review decisions (which could entail simply justifying why this did not occur); streamlining the regulatory/permitting phase of the review process; and restoring the practice of developing Project Agreements and/or reviewing Agreements on an annual basis. However, these suggestions were diverse in nature and there were no general themes. In addition to this, the proposed changes in Bill C-69 present an alternative to some elements of the Initiative that was referred to by numerous internal and external key informants.

Overall, there was little consensus among interviewees regarding the appropriateness or desirability of alternative designs and approaches to the MPMOI, and no compelling evidence these would be more efficient or effective at achieving expected outcomes.

Is performance information being collected, monitored and used to support decision-making?

Summary:
Although some performance information is collected, monitored, and used internally to support decision-making, it is not always appropriate or sufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the Initiative and the Interim Strategy. There are opportunities to enhance the collection of financial and human resource information, the relevance of performance data to the expected outcomes (i.e., validity of performance measures), and the functionality of public-facing project monitoring systems.

Overall, the financial, human resource, and outcome information currently being collected and monitored is not sufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness or efficiency of the MPMOI.

Nevertheless, Performance Measurement and Risk Strategies exists for both the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy. Furthermore, some performance information is being collected, monitored, and used in the preparation of a range of internal knowledge products, such as Major Project Look Ahead documents distributed to participants in the governance of the Initiative. Similarly, publicly available resources reference data collected by Initiative partners, including annual Departmental Results Reports (DRR), the Horizontal Initiatives Database, and the MPMO Tracker.

In addition, some internal key informants reported that performance information is being, or has been, used to support Initiative decision-making, at least at the project-level. For example, they noted that project-level tracking tools are used to inform discussions about projects where issues have been encountered or where there are significant upcoming milestones; or, that data regarding the timeliness of the review process helped inform the proposed timelines incorporated into Bill C-69. However, a small number reported that emphasis on performance measurement and tracking has declined over time, and they attributed this to both a reduction in the number of major projects under consideration, an increased focus on policy development and changes in legislation requiring departments to do more performance measurement themselves.

Consistent with the findings from the previous evaluation, and as is evident throughout this report, the evaluation identified several gaps and opportunities for improvement with regard to performance measurement and reporting:

  • Availability of basic program information. It was very challenging for the evaluation to obtain accurate information relating to activities and outputs of the Initiative and the Interim Strategy for the period covered by this evaluation. Furthermore, although there is a Performance Measurement and Risk Strategy for the Initiative and the Interim Strategy and performance measures have been identified, it appears some indicators mentioned therein are not being routinely compiled (e.g., those related to the preparation and publication of Project Agreements). As noted above, some key informants reported that for various reasons performance measurement and tracking diminished over time.
  • Limited financial and human resource information. Existing spending for the Initiative is not fully tracked. In addition, the allocation of financial or human resources to specific funded activities (i.e., those listed in Table 2 above) does not appear to be regularly tracked. These shortcomings make it difficult to know the actual cost of delivering the Initiative and the Interim Strategy, and to assess efficiency.
  • Appropriateness of performance measures. As noted above, performance measures have been identified for the Initiative and the Interim Strategy. However, these are not always appropriate or sufficient for demonstrating progress towards outcomes, nor are they necessarily meaningful to external stakeholders. Specific examples include the following:
    • Timeliness and predictability of the review process is currently measured with reference to legislated time limits and service standards, rather than the total time required to complete the EA and regulatory review process. The latter is more meaningful to proponents and members of the public and might offer additional insight into the program’s success in promoting the timeliness and predictability of project reviews, but runs the risk that (for example) long review times resulting from factors outside the government’s control may be misattributed to the MPMOI. It may be advisable either to present both of these pieces of information together, or to design a more sophisticated indicator that attempts to balance these considerations.Footnote 22
    • Performance measures related to Indigenous consultation are essentially process indicators (e.g., the percentage of major resource project reviews that have an Aboriginal consultation work plan, or the number of Indigenous communities that receive PFP funding), which do not demonstrate progress towards outcomes. An alternative approach might be to replace or supplement these with metrics that directly reference Indigenous stakeholders’ perspectives of the process.
  • Weaknesses of the MPMO Tracker. The MPMO Tracker is an interactive online tool enabling users to obtain detailed information on projects in the MPMOI portfolio. While useful for obtaining project-specific information, it has limited functionality when it comes to providing aggregate data about projects undergoing review. It is not possible for an industry stakeholder or member of the public to access this database and easily determine, for example, whether major resource projects in the federal review process are on track to meet legislated time limits or what proportion of project proponents are compliant with conditions, or obtain a high-level overview of the functioning of the review process or the status of all projects at a given point in time. Furthermore, the Tracker does not appear to be updated on a regular basis, which further limits its usefulness.

Other partners in the Initiative (the NEB and CEAA) have their own public-facing tools for reporting information about the performance of the review system for major projects. However, the MPMO Tracker has some unique features (previously discussed in the section on Continued Need) and integrates, to a limited extent, with these other tools. It is unclear whether the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry (CIAR) proposed in Bill C-69 would replace the MPMO Tracker, or whether some form of integration between the two tools is being envisioned. It is also uncertain to what extent the CIAR would, or could, address the types of issues outlined above now that Bill C-69 has come into force.

Is the governance structure clear and are its members actively engaged? Does it support effective decision-making and achievement of intended outcomes?

Summary:
Internal key informants believe that the governance structure is clear, that its members are actively engaged, and that the structure supports effective decision-making and achievement of outcomes. The DM and ADM committees, which make up the key elements of the governance structure, are seen as a main strength of the MPMOI. Nevertheless, there may be opportunities to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the senior manager committees, particularly with respect to focus (i.e., horizontal policy issues versus project-level issues), committee involvement in issues resolution, and the nature of NRCan participation.

NRCan as lead department

NRCan executes its role as the lead department for the Initiative through the role of its DM as the Chair of the DM MPMO and through the MPMO. Most key informants did not raise any concerns about the appropriateness of NRCan as the lead department. However, a few internal and external key informants suggested that because the MPMO is situated within NRCan, it may be (or may be perceived as) biased in favour of proponents. These key informants suggested that the Office’s location within NRCan, which has an economic development mandate, results in a tendency to promote or prioritize project approvals as opposed to environmental protection or other goals of the regulatory review process. On the other hand, it was also observed that NRCan’s relatively limited regulatory role reduces the potential for conflict of interest. In addition, some internal key informants noted that the participation of other federal departments and agencies with different mandates in MPMOI governance committees provides necessary balance.

Governance committees

Governance of the MPMOI is the responsibility of the DM MPMO, chaired by the DM of NRCan as the lead department, with a parallel committee operating at the ADM level. Program documentation, including Terms of Reference, describes the structure, composition, and mandate of the DM MPMO, as well as the roles and responsibilities of its members and the Committee’s procedures and decision-making processes (Government of Canada, 2007; MPMO, 2008). The MPMO provides secretariat support to both the ADM and DM MPMO committees. Terms of Reference do not exist for the ADM committee.

Internal key informants generally believe the governance structure is clear; that participants meet with appropriate frequency and are adequately engaged; and that the governance structure supports effective decision-making and achievement of expected outcomes. Some specifically pointed out that the existing governance bodies are excellent venues for information-sharing, policy discussion, and collaborative management of issues. Department and agency Deputy Heads surveyed by the program in 2016-17 believe governance bodies maintain an essential oversight role during the federal regulatory review of major natural resource projects, and that the committee structure effectively manages the flow of information to senior management and the advancement of horizontal advice. That said, internal key informants raised a number of issues and concerns relating to governance:

  • Role and focus of governance committees. One concern was the degree to which meetings of the governance bodies should focus on horizontal policy issues relative to project-level issues. Although senior managers have expressed a preference for greater emphasis on horizontal policy discussions, they seem to recognize that project-level discussions constitute an essential element of the committees’ work. However, substantial resources are required to sustain interdepartmental coordination and apprise senior executives of major resource projects navigating the federal review process, which may divert their time to considering issues that could have been addressed at lower levels. While this could be addressed by focusing the mandate of senior-level committees, some internal key informants believe it can be sometimes constructive to allow issues to escalate to higher levels. In addition, senior managers from MPMOI-funded partner departments, regulatory agencies and aligned departments who were interviewed alluded to a lack of clarity regarding the DM MPMO committee’s role as a decision-making body.
  • Performance of secretariat function. Some internal interviewees described instances in which the late provision of meeting materials had proven problematic (e.g., by giving meeting participants insufficient time to absorb their contents), suggesting a need to distribute these materials in a timelier fashion. However, MPMO representatives indicated that the ability to do so is contingent on timely submission to the Office of the documents requiring dissemination.
  • Engagement of partners. Some internal key informants suggested that participants in program governance bodies may not always be adequately or consistently engaged. For example, some department/agency Deputy Heads noted CIRNAC-ISC and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency had limited opportunity during meetings to integrate lessons learned from northern major resource projects into ADM and DG committee level discussions.
  • Role of the Interdepartmental Task Team. Finally, the formation of the Interdepartmental Task Team and working groups to support the passage of Bill C-69 appears to have disrupted the existing governance bodies and created confusion about the ongoing function of both the Task Team and the MPMOI governance structure. This finding may be the result of the timing of the key informant interviews, which were conducted soon after the establishment of these teams.

Conclusions and recommendations

This section summarizes the evaluation’s key findings and recommendations. These findings and recommendations apply even with changes to the EA and regulatory review process that are now law under Bill C-69. As the changes associated with Bill C-69 are enacted, the recommendations should be considered by the organization(s) responsible for horizontal governance under the new process for environmental/impact assessments and regulatory reviews.

Relevance

The evaluation confirmed that the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy align with federal priorities, including environmental protection, action on climate change, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as the priorities of participating departments and agencies.

There is a clear need and role for departments and agencies to support major resource project reviews. In particular, there is a continued need for departments and agencies to provide scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity to support these reviews and to meet statutory/ legislated and regulatory responsibilities associated with EAs and regulatory reviews. In keeping with resources provided in Budget 2018 and the passing of Bill C-69, partner departments, should continue to collaborate on and maintain scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity supporting major project reviews.

The evaluation also found widespread agreement on the continued need for the roles and responsibilities currently performed by the MPMO. However, there was not consensus on whether these roles and responsibilities should continue to be performed by the Office. Based on a preliminary analysis of the Office’s current functions, it is clear that with Bill C-69, some of the roles and responsibilities of the Office will become the responsibility of IAAC. Responsibilities that are not specifically assigned to the new Agency, and that will likely need to be performed by some entity in the future, include:

  • Providing secretariat support to the horizontal governance structure.
  • Functions associated with the post-IA decision phase, including providing support to proponents, monitoring and tracking the progress of major projects, coordinating engagement of Indigenous peoples, and possibly, providing horizontal leadership to advance policy improvements applicable to this phase.

In addition, there are 89 projects that entered the system under CEAA 2012 that have not yet completed the review process and that may continue to move through the federal system under existing assessment processes. There may therefore be a need for the Office to continue performing its existing roles and responsibilities in relation to these active projects, now that Bill C-69 is law.

An upcoming internal review of horizontal governance could serve as a venue for initiating discussions regarding the Office’s mandate, roles and responsibilities relative to other partner departments and agencies and external partners and stakeholders, going forward. Depending on the outcome of these discussions, the review may also provide an opportunity to explore whether there exists a need to modify MPMO’s mandate so as to support achievement of the Initiative’s expected outcomes.

Recommendation 1. NRCan should work with participating departments and agencies to ensure continuation of relevant activities currently performed by the MPMO. This process should be informed by a comprehensive review of the Office’s mandate, roles and responsibilities relative to the roles of other participating departments and agencies and/or external stakeholders, and should include the following tasks:

  • Determine what entity or entities (including the MPMO itself) should carry out roles and responsibilities currently performed by MPMO going forward, with explicit reference to any pertinent legislative (i.e., Bill C-69) or other developments occurring or anticipated to occur at the time the determination is made, and update the mandate as required.

Performance – Effectiveness

The expected outcomes of the MPMOI, including the Interim Strategy, assessed as part of this evaluation include:

  • Improved coordination of the regulatory review process;
  • Improved timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews; and
  • More coordinated, consistent and meaningful Indigenous and public consultation.

For all three outcomes, baseline measures are lacking, performance measurement data for the period are limited, and key informants offered diverse perspectives on the extent to which progress has occurred, with internal key informants more likely to perceive improvements than external key informants. As a result, it is challenging to draw firm conclusions about the extent to which these outcomes were achieved for the period from 2015-16 to 2017-18, although there is evidence of progress in some areas. Key findings related to the achievement of outcomes are presented below:

  • Coordination of the regulatory review process. There is clear evidence that the MPMO and other Initiative partners engaged in a range of activities to coordinate the regulatory review process. At the project level, Initiative partners worked with provincial regulators and proponents to coordinate activities during the review process and resolve issues. At the horizontal level, the Office contributed to improved coordination through its support for the Initiative governance structure, through its role in the development of Bill C-69, and through the provision of policy advice. Some key informants suggested that the major gains in coordination had been made prior to the evaluation period, and were primarily due to the implementation of CEAA 2012, rather than the MPMOI.
  • Timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews. Due to data limitations and divergent key informant perspectives, the evaluation could not conclusively determine if timeliness, predictability, quality, transparency and accountability of regulatory reviews has improved. With regard to timeliness and predictability, although federal partners are meeting legislated time limits, projects timelines are highly variable and it is not clear whether the total time elapsed between the initial project application and project authorization has declined since the last evaluation. Similarly, with regard to quality, Initiative partners are providing the specialized or expert information or knowledge required to inform EAs, scientific evidence is considered in review decisions and affects conditions imposed, and estimates of GHG emissions have been developed for projects under the Interim Strategy; however, the evaluation also found little consensus among key informants regarding the extent to which consideration of scientific evidence improved over the evaluation period, with a few describing opportunities to further enhance how scientific information is scoped, validated, or applied during major resource project reviews. Finally, with regards to transparency and accountability, there is evidence of various internal and public-facing tools to monitor, track, and report on performance; it is also evident that the desire to increase Canadians’ trust in the review system for major resource projects was a motivating factor underpinning many aspects of the design of the Interim Strategy and Bill C-69.
  • Coordinated, consistent and meaningful Indigenous and public consultation. Despite limited performance measurement information, there is some evidence to indicate that progress has been made in this area. Key informants interviewed as part of this evaluation were divided as to whether this outcome had been achieved; the same observation applies to Indigenous key informants, although most of the latter believe that at least some elements of consultation processes are effective or have improved. Those perceiving progress attribute this to such factors as government policy direction, resources available through the PFPs or the Interim Strategy, the MPMO’s role as the Crown Consultation Coordinator for NEB projects, and/or the establishment of IAMCs. Although two Federal Court of Appeal decisions during the period covered by this evaluation overturned project approvals (for the Northern Gateway and TMX projects) on the grounds, at least in part, that the federal government failed to fulfill the duty to consult, the Court was of the opinion that significant improvements had been made in the TMX consultation compared to earlier project reviews. In other instances, meanwhile, the Court has ruled in the Crown’s favour, concluding that the duty to consult had been discharged appropriately. Although there has been recent progress, it is also clear that further efforts are required. Areas for future improvement include clarifying consultation roles, responsibilities, and concepts; assisting proponents and Indigenous peoples to navigate consultation processes; engaging Indigenous peoples in designing these processes; and more clearly conveying how input has been considered in review decisions.

The evaluation identified numerous internal and external factors that influence the ability of the Initiative to achieve its expected outcomes. Factors that facilitate outcome achievement include the coordinating role of the Office; the availability of funding for scientific, technical and Indigenous consultation capacity; and the availability of PFP funding to support Indigenous participation in consultations. Factors that may hinder outcome achievement include the limitations inherent in the mandate of the Office and increased public expectations in relation to project reviews, among others. Some factors – such as prevailing economic/market conditions and government priorities – may be either facilitators or barriers, depending on the context. Recognizing that the Initiative may have limited or no ability to mitigate some external factors (such as unfavourable market conditions), it is important that these factors are understood and mitigated, where possible, to optimize the ability of the Initiative to achieve its expected outcomes.

Recommendation. There are no recommendations associated with this section.

Performance – Efficiency

With regard to governance, the evaluation found that the DM and ADM committees, which are the key elements of the MPMOI governance structure, are a main strength of the Initiative. In addition, the governance structure is clear and its members are actively engaged. Nevertheless, there may be opportunities to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the senior manager committees, particularly with respect to focus (i.e., horizontal policy issues or project-level issues), committee involvement in issues resolution, and nature of NRCan participation.

Due to limited information on resource use, outputs, and expected outcomes, the evaluation cannot definitively conclude on whether the MPMOI and the Interim Strategy are operating efficiently. Notwithstanding numerous (and often contradictory) suggestions from key informants for improving effectiveness and efficiency there is no evidence that any of these would be more effective or efficient at achieving expected outcomes.

Consistent with the findings from the previous evaluation, a significant barrier to the analysis of effectiveness and efficiency was the limited performance measurement and resource information available for the evaluation. Although some performance information is collected, monitored and used internally to support decision-making, the available information is not always appropriate or sufficient to demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency. Key weaknesses include:

  • Limited financial and human resource information, including limited linkage of this information to Initiative/Strategy activities;
  • Inappropriate or insufficient performance measures for demonstrating progress towards outcomes, or performance measures that are not meaningful to external partners/stakeholders (e.g., emphasis on meeting legislated time limits rather than overall time elapsed; or emphasis on process indicators relating to Indigenous consultation, rather than metrics that reference Indigenous peoples’ perspectives of the process); and
  • Limited functionality of the MPMO Tracker with regard to providing aggregate information about projects undergoing review.

There are opportunities to improve the collection of performance measurement and financial and human resource information, ensure that performance indicators are relevant and valid for measuring expected outcomes, and improve the functionality of public-facing project monitoring systems.

Recommendation 2. NRCan should collaborate with participating departments and agencies to improve performance measurement for the MPMOI. To ensure responsible departments and agencies can demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the MPMOI and IARP, the following steps should be taken (at a minimum):

  • Revise the logic model for the Initiative to ensure that it clearly articulates activities, outputs and expected outcomes (immediate, intermediate, and long-term). This may include revising, removing, or adding activities, outputs and expected outcomes to ensure clarity and avoid repetition.
  • Develop and implement a set of performance measures corresponding to the outcomes identified in the revised logic model. The performance measures should enable monitoring of progress towards outcome achievement; process indicators should not be relied upon as evidence of outcome achievement, and indicators should be meaningful and relevant to Initiative stakeholders and partners.
  • Strengthen monitoring and reporting tools or practices, to facilitate consistent collection of performance information across departments and agencies, and enable a clear understanding of progress towards outcomes or enable course correction if the desired change is not seen. This should include establishing baselines or benchmarks for expected outcomes, and identifying clear targets and dates to achieve these targets.
  • Improve tracking of financial and human resource information. This should include:
    • Actual resource use from new and existing department and agency budgets for major resource project reviews (including trends over time); and
    • Allocation of financial and human resources to various activities, corresponding to the activities identified in the revised logic model.
  • Improve public-facing project monitoring systems to ensure that stakeholders and interested members of the public can obtain and understand information about major resource projects under federal review. This should include providing easier access to information about project assessments (including the rationale behind review decisions), as well as improving the functionality and timeliness of public-facing monitoring systems to ensure accessibility of project-level and aggregated information about major resource projects progressing through the federal review system.

With the passing of Bill C-69 and the implementation of the IARP, the IAAC should also consider these improvements to performance measurement and collaborate with participating departments and agencies to ensure they are addressed for this new horizontal initiative.

Evaluation Team

Christian Asselin, Chief Audit and Evaluation Executive (CAEE)
David Ash, Senior Advisor to the CAEE
Mary Kay Lamarche, Senior Evaluation Manager
Martine Perrault, Senior Evaluation Manager
PRA Inc.

The evaluation was also supported by a Horizontal Evaluation Advisory Committee with representatives from the evaluation functions at: the Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada-Indigenous Services Canada; the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; Environment and Climate Change Canada; Transport Canada; and the National Energy Board.

Appendix 1 Logic model for the MPMO Initiative

Logic model for the MPMO initiative
Text version - Appendix 1 Logic model for the MPMO initiative

The logic model is comprised of seven sections: Influences/External Factors; Resources; Programs/Activities; Outputs; Immediate Outcomes; Intermediate Outcomes; and Long-term Outcomes. There is a continuous feedback loop between the Initiative’s resources and outputs.

Relevant influences and external factors include: Changes in economic context and markets, Regional trends and technology; A complex federal regulatory environment and system; Multiple stakeholders and federal and provincial jurisdictions; Changes in federal and provincial government priorities; Impact of legislative changes and court decisions on EA and AC; Federal regulatory and aboriginal consultation capacity needs; and changes in stakeholder and public awareness and expectations for EA, AC, and Transparency.

Resources include: Operating funds from MPMO; Capacity funding for the regulatory process from five departments/agencies; Capacity funding for Aboriginal consultations from five departments/agencies; In-kind contributions, both MPMOI Funded and from unfunded departments, agencies, and stakeholders; FTEs and infrastructure from MPMO; Scientific and technical expertise and transactional support through FTEs of five departments/agencies; and In-kind scientific and technical expertise and transactional support through FTEs.

Programs and Activities include: Provide a single point of entry into the federal regulatory process for proponents; Implement a consistent, coordinated approach to EA and regulatory reviews; Integrate Aboriginal consultation responsibilities into the overall regulatory process; Monitor, track, and report on performance based on project agreements and service standards; Establish and support senior governance and oversight mechanisms; and Policy and research such as identifying, evaluating and implementing process improvements. Activities associated with the regulatory review process for major resource projects include: Pre-submission processing; Environmental assessments; Aboriginal consultations; Regulatory review and decision making; and follow-up and monitoring.

Relevant outputs include: Service standards such as reduced timelines; Project agreements; Aboriginal consultation plans, crown records, and other documents; Progress reports, progress meetings and a MPMO tracker; DM committee meetings and interdepartmental and agency collaboration; and research and analysis, studies, reports, guidance, materials, and training sessions.

Immediate outcomes include: A consistent, whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal consultations; Integrated and well-coordinated EAs and regulatory reviews; Increased transparency and accountability of the federal regulatory process; and an improved federal regulatory review process.

Intermediate outcomes include: Aboriginal consultation responsibilities are fulfilled in a consistent, adequate, and meaningful manner; and high quality, predictable, and timely EAs and regulatory reviews.

The long-term outcome is to improve the performance of the federal review process for major resource projects to support responsible resource development in Canada.

Appendix 2 Logic Model for the Interim Strategy for Pipelines and Other NEB Reviews

ULTIMATE OUTCOME

Decision-making processes for federally regulated pipeline projects are inclusive and demonstrate effective use of evidence from Indigenous consultations and public engagement

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

Improved understanding of concerns being brought forward by the public and Indigenous groups
Indigenous concerns are accommodated as appropriate

IMMEDIATE OUTCOMES

Implementation of the interim measures (e.g., deeper consultations with Indigenous groups; expansion of the NEB and NRCan PFPs; and appointment of temporary Board members)

OUTPUTS

Robust Crown consultation records
Contribution agreements for participant funding
NEB recommendation reports (including assessments of direct greenhouse gas emissions)
Ministerial Panel’s report on engagement with the public and affected communities along the TMX route
Assessments of upstream greenhouse gas emissions
Timely Government decisions on major pipeline projects during the Interim Strategy period

ACTIVITIES

Providing participant funding to facilitate the participation of the public & Indigenous groups in the NEB review process and Crown consultations (NEB and MPMO)
Conducting Crown consultations (MPMO, relying on NEB process to the extent possible, with TC)
Engaging the public and affected communities (NEB and MPMO); and appointing a credible Ministerial Panel for the TMX project with a clear mandate and in a timely manner (MPMO)
Assessing upstream (ECCC) and direct (NEB) greenhouse gas emissions associated with projects
Analyzing and responding to concerns raised by Indigenous groups and the public (NEB, MPMO and TC); Identifying options to avoid, mitigate, or accommodate outstanding concerns (NEB and MPMO)
Appointment of temporary Board members (MPMO)

INPUTS

Operating Funds
Contribution Funds
Personnel(Crown Consultation Coordinators, PFP Manager, MPMO project management, coordination, and oversight)
Technical expertise & transactional support
Text version - Appendix 2 Logic Model for the Interim Strategy for Pipelines and Other NEB Reviews

The logic model is organized into six categories: Inputs, Activities, Outputs, Immediate Outcomes, Intermediate Outcomes, and the Ultimate Outcome. Inputs lead to activities which then produce outputs. The outputs result in immediate outcomes, which then lead to the intermediate outcomes, and finally the ultimate outcome of the Initiative.

The inputs are: Operating funds; Contribution funds; Personnel including Crown consultation coordinators, PFP manager, MPMO project management, coordination, and oversight; and Technical expertise and transactional support.

The activities are: Providing participant funding to facilitate the participation of the public & Indigenous groups in the NEB review process and Crown consultations (NEB and MPMO); Conducting Crown consultations (MPMO, relying on NEB process to the extent possible, with TC); Engaging the public and affected communities (NEB and MPMO) and appointing a credible Ministerial Panel for the TMX project with a clear mandate and in a timely manner (MPMO); Assessing upstream (ECCC) and direct (NEB) greenhouse gas emissions associated with projects; Analyzing and responding to concerns raised by Indigenous groups and the public (NEB, MPMO and TC); Identifying options to avoid, mitigate, or accommodate outstanding concerns (NEB and MPMO); and Appointment of temporary Board members (MPMO).

The outputs are: Robust Crown consultation records; Contribution agreements for participant funding; NEB recommendation reports including assessments of direct greenhouse gas emissions; Ministerial Panel’s report on engagement with the public and affected communities along the TMX route; Assessments of upstream greenhouse gas emissions; and Timely Government decisions on major pipeline projects during the Interim Strategy period.

The immediate outcome is the implementation of the interim measures, which are deeper consultations with Indigenous groups, expansion of the NEB and NRCan PFPs, and the appointment of temporary Board members.

The intermediate outcomes are: Improved understanding of concerns being brought forward by the public and Indigenous groups; and Indigenous concerns are accommodated as appropriate.

The ultimate outcome: Decision-making processes for federally regulated pipeline projects are inclusive and demonstrate effective use of evidence from Indigenous consultations and public engagement.

Appendix 3 Program Resources

For the period covered by this evaluation (2015-16 to 2017-18), approximately $81.0M was allocated to the MPMOI; Table 9 provides a breakdown of planned MPMOI expenditures by fiscal year and department/agency. These figures do not include $164.9M in existing funding allocated to the review of major resource projects over the same period.

Table 9: MPMOI resources ($ dollar), 2015–16 to 2017–18
Federal organization 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 Total
CEA Agency $8,000,000 $8,000,000 $8,000,000 $24,000,000
DFO $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $21,000,000
ECCC $2,500,000 $2,500,000 $2,500,000 $7,500,000
INAC $1,800,000 $1,800,000 $1,800,000 $5,400,000
NRCan $4,200,000 $4,200,000 $4,200,000 $12,600,000
TC $3,500,000 $3,500,000 $3,500,000 $10,500,000
Total $27,000,000 $27,000,000 $27,000,000 $81,000,000
Source: Internal program documentation

For the two years within the scope of this evaluation (2016-17 to 2017-18), a total of $13.0M was allocated to the Interim Strategy; Table 10 provides a breakdown of planned Interim Strategy expenditures by fiscal year and department/agency. These figures do not include $15.7M in existing funding allocated to the review of major resource projects subject to the Interim Strategy over the same period.

Table 10 : Interim Strategy resources ($ dollar), 2016–17 to 2017–18
Federal organization 2016-17 2017-18 Total
NEB 1,915,877 4,737,972 6,653,849
NRCan 3,003,066 2,777,679 5,780,745
TC 181,907 425,801 607,708
Total 5,100,850 7,941,452 13,042,302
Source: Internal program documentation

Appendix 4 Detailed Evaluation Methodology

Evaluation Issues and Questions

Evaluation questions were identified in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Results (2016) and issues of interest to senior management, namely Indigenous consultations as well as the overall design of the MPMOI, particularly the ongoing and future need for a horizontal coordination function (i.e., the future role of the MPMO).

The following questions related to the relevance and performance of the MPMOI were examined in the evaluation:

Relevance

  • Continued need for the program. Is there a continued need for the MPMOI and its main components?
  • Alignment with government priorities. Is the MPMOI aligned with current federal government priorities?
  • Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities. Is the MPMOI consistent with existing and proposed federal roles and responsibilities?
  • Value-Added. Does the MPMO bring value-added to the regulatory review process for major resource projects?

Performance

  • Effectiveness (achievement of expected results).
    • To what extent has the MPMOI, including the Interim Strategy, achieved its expected outcomes?
    • To what extent have internal and external factors influenced the ability of the MPMOI to achieve its expected outcomes?
    • Have there been any unintended outcomes (positive or negative) as a result of the Initiative?
  • Efficiency
    • Is the design of the MPMOI appropriate for achieving its expected outcomes? To what degree does the MPMO contribute to achieving the expected outcomes?
    • Is the program operating efficiently? Are there alternative approaches or models that would be more efficient or effective at achieving the expected outcomes?
    • Is the governance structure clear and are its members actively engaged? Does it support effective decision-making and achievement of intended outcomes?
    • Is performance information being collected, monitored and used to support decision-making?

Evaluation Approach and Methodology

Two data collection methodologies were used to address the evaluation issues and questions. Evidence drawn from these methods informed the findings and conclusions.

Review of documents and administrative data

The document review served to develop a thorough understanding of the MPMOI and Interim Strategy and to contribute as a line of evidence to address all evaluation questions. Examples of the types of documents reviewed included:

  • The prior evaluation of the MPMOI (2012), and subsequent Renewal Review (2014).
  • Treasury Board submissions, Performance Measurement and Risk Strategies and other planning documents.
  • Departmental Performance Reports (DPRs)/Departmental Results Reports (DRRs) and Departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs)/Departmental Plans.
  • Speeches from the Throne, Mandate Letters, and annual Budget Plans.
  • Materials relating to Bill C-69, including the text of the proposed Act, and a review of stakeholder feedback submitted in response to requests for public comment regarding the Act and the Discussion Paper that preceded it.
  • Financial information (collected primarily from DRRs and Departmental Plans), and materials associated with the DM MPMO (e.g., Terms of Reference, agendas, Records of Decision, presentation slide decks, etc.).
  • Materials associated with specific projects in the MPMOI portfolio, such as CCARs, Reviews of Related Upstream GHG Estimates, and OICs.
  • Internal communications and other materials.

Relatively little administrative data was available to support the evaluation. Financial data was obtained primarily from annual DPRs/DRRs, while information regarding Indigenous participation in consultations associated with Interim Strategy projects was obtained from CCARs or furnished by the NEB or MPMO.

Key informant interviews

Key informant interviews were used to solicit informed opinions and observations on the evaluation questions from various stakeholders involved in or familiar with the MPMOI and Interim Strategy.

A total of 52 interviews were conducted with 68 key informants. Both individual and group interviews were conducted. Interviews were conducted between July and October 2018.

Table 11 : Distribution of interviews by key informant category
Key Informant Category Key Informant Sub-Category # of completed interviews # of key informants
Internal DMs and other senior government officials 10 11
Internal Participating departments and agencies (those funded and those not receiving funding for MPMOI) 16 27
Total internal 26 38
External MPMOI proponents (industry) 10 11
External Industry associations 2 2
External Indigenous communities and organizations 7 9
External Non-governmental organizations 3 3
External Provincial/territorial representatives and representatives of provincially-based federal agencies (i.e., offshore petroleum boards) 4 5
Total external 26 30
Overall total 52 68

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