Lawyers stumped over new gender and identity provisions for environmental impact assessments – National Post

Jessica Kennedy

April 3, 2018

In February 2018, the federal government introduced Bill C-69 which, among other things, repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and enacts the Impact Assessment Act. According to an article in the National Post by Graeme Hamilton, one of the proposed provisions in the new legislation is leaving environmental lawyers “puzzled.” If the bill is passed, the scope of impact assessments will be broadened significantly and will require project proponents to consider the “intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.” Hamilton refers to a recent Osler Update that reviewed the proposed legislation and the impact of the new gender provision, and suggested that it makes “the role of an impact assessment more of a policy-setting exercise than focused on the merits of a specific project, which is likely to increase the scope of studies the proponents will need to engage in and contribute to overall project uncertainty.” For further insight, he consults Jessica Kennedy, an associate in the Regulatory, Environmental, Aboriginal and Land Group in Osler’s Calgary office and co-author of the Update.

Jessica explains that the initiative is “novel,” but “[w]hat is more concerning is if you take the issue of gender and gender identity more broadly and start examining, for example, a company’s policies and practices regarding gender, their hiring practices, their bathroom policies, their codes of ethics around treatment of people based on gender or other identity factors – race, religion, those kinds of things.

“That’s where it starts to get more into a policy question,” she continues, “where you’re really looking at the social setting within the company.”

Further detail can be found in Graeme Hamilton’s article “Lawyers stumped over new gender and identity provisions for environmental impact assessments” in the April 3, 2018 edition of the National Post and in the Osler Update, Changes to federal impact assessments, energy regulator and waterway regulation (Bills C-68 and C-69).

Listen to Jessica’s radio interviews with 650 CKOM Saskatoon and Global News Radio 770 CHQR, in which she talks about Bill C-69.