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Ontario seeks legal clarification on infrastructure review process

October 24, 2023  By Rock to Road Staff

(Photo credit: GOL)

TORONTO — The Government of Ontario is taking legal action to ensure the federal government cannot further delay provincial infrastructure projects using the Impact Assessment Act.

The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General announced today it would be seeking a judicial review of a Supreme Court of Canada’s Oct. 13 ruling, to get absolute confirmation it can proceed on major infrastructure projects.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Impact Assessment Act contained unconstitutional elements and needs revisions. The ruling came after the legislation was challenged by the Alberta Government.

The Impact Assessment Act, also known as Bill C-69, was implemented in 2019, allowing the federal Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MECC) to conduct reviews for adverse effects and environmental impact on designated projects or those that may cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction.


Provincial leaders have complained the MECC review process can be lengthy, causing backlogs on projects like Ontario Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass and the First Nations-led process to build all-season roads connecting the Ring of Fire region.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, along with other Premiers, said the legislation was overreaching and was stepping on the rights of the provinces.

“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision confirming the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s destructive Bill C-69 legislation. This legislation is already responsible for the loss of tens of billions in investment as well as thousands of jobs across many provinces and economic sectors,” Smith said after the ruling two weeks ago. “The ruling represents an opportunity for all provinces to stop that bleeding and begin the process of re-attracting those investments and jobs into our economies,” Smith said after the ruling two weeks ago.”

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey said that despite the Supreme Court decision, there is still uncertainty about the provinces’ ability to proceed with major infrastructure projects.

“The federal government’s failure to recognize the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the Impact Assessment Act is unconstitutional has caused unnecessary confusion across the country,” he said. “Ontario is using the legal tools at our disposal to assert our constitutional authority to move forward on our many critical projects without federal interference.”

The government says it is eager to get moving on critical infrastructure projects it’s had planned for several years and is looking to stop further delays to the process.

“Ontario is growing at an unprecedented speed, putting pressure on our infrastructure. With gridlock costing our economy upwards of $11 billion each year, it’s never been more important for us to build roads, bridges, highways and public transit,” he said. “We need shovels in the ground on the infrastructure that helps get more homes built and the energy infrastructure needed to power our growing economy.”

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