Canada's Bill C-38 passes both sides of Parliament

Legislation that will significantly affect the hydropower industry passed both houses of Canada's Parliament and received royal assent, turning the act into law.

Bill C-38 - also known as the Budget Implementation Act - modifies a number of existing acts to help spur hydroelectric development and expansion with the goal of stimulating economic growth.

A study released by the Canadian Electricity Association in February says Canadian utilities must collectively spend nearly C$359.2 billion (US$350 billion) on power generation and transmission projects by 2030 if it hopes to keep up with the demands of the nation's electrical network.

In addition, the Canadian Hydropower Association indicates that such investment could produce more than 1 million jobs from construction activities alone.

Proponents of Bill C-38 say the legislation could help realize those objectives by reforming current policies to create an environment more conducive to hydropower development. Amongst the bill's numerous facets is an emphasis on improving four key areas:

  • Making the review process more timely and predictable;
  • Reducing administrative duplicity in project reviews;
  • Strengthening environmental protection; and
  • Increasing agency interactions with aboriginal groups.

In doing so, Bill C-38 would affect a number of existing acts, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, Energy Board Act and Species at Risk Act.

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