Environmental Law & Regulation

Environmental protection is dependent on good legislation and effective compliance at federal, provincial, and municipal levels.

The Saskatchewan government has been developing a process to move from a system of regulations for implementing environmental law to an environmental code.

In 2012 the federal omnibus Budget Implementation Act (Bill C38) included replacement of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with a narrower Act, which severely limits the effectiveness of legislation. As a result of this change, fewer projects will receive federal screening, the issues to be considered are limited, and time limits on assessment processes mean that in-depth study of impacts is restricted.

Another casualty of the federal Budget Implementation Act was the Ministry of Transport’s Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA), legislation that required review of any building or development work that impacted any navigable body of water. Along with the weakened Fisheries Act and Environmental Assessment Act, NWPA has been one of the key mechanisms used to protect the integrity of lakes and rivers, when projects such as bridge-building, dams, pipeline or power-line crossings, docks and riverbed changes are being proposed. Read more about these changes. The NWPA has been replaced by a new Navigation Protection Act. It is now navigation that is to be protected rather than navigable waters. The new Act focuses on ensuring that Canada’s busiest waterways remain navigable. By restricting the reach of the Act to a list of only 97 lakes and 62 rivers in Canada, along with our three oceans, construction projects on hundreds of thousands of water bodies will no longer require review and permitting by the Ministry of Transport.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society continues to regularly monitor and review changes in these systems.