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May 2nd 2019 - Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence - Various Witnesses

Senator Poirier: Thank you all for being here. We have also heard from other groups some of the concerns we’re hearing from you.

I have a couple of questions. If I go overboard, the chair will probably stop me, I’m assuming.

The Chair: Advise you.

Senator Poirier: Advise me.

My first question is for Ms. Jackson. In your brief you mention that the expansion of the definition of fish habitat was done without any consultations or engagement from stakeholders. Were you given a reason why you were not consulted or why they did not reach out to you to get your opinion on this section?

Ms. Jackson: I don’t think that I stated that we weren’t consulted.

Senator Poirier: I think it was more in the one you submitted that we received. I thought there was a place or comment that before the changes you made, before subclause 2(2) was added in, that you were not consulted. Maybe I misunderstood.

Ms. Jackson: I think there was a lack of opportunity to consult on subclause 2(2). I think that has left that to be quite open in terms of the scope of what the deeming habitat could be.

Senator Poirier: Bill C-68’s intent is clear that it wants to return to the pre-2012 model with the changes made back to HADD. If I’m hearing correct, it is a return to HADD but with more uncertainty and regulatory burdens. Am I right in hearing that?

Ms. Gowriluk: I would suggest that’s likely the case. Our concerns are primarily focused on subclause 2(2) where we would need to see increased clarity in particular with this particular piece, yes.

Senator Poirier: Any other comments from anybody else? Is that pretty well it?

Mr. Annau: I think Erin summed it up well.

Senator Poirier: I know you mentioned quite a lot in your presentation, specifically Ms. Jackson, on your day-to-day operations with your industry, the impact this would have. Could you elaborate a bit on how these changes would affect your industry in the bigger picture? What impacts would Bill C-68 have on the development if this stays as it is with the industry going forward?

Ms. Jackson: I think there would be a number of areas that it would impact.

First of all, if there was a requirement going forward to get approvals for the number of interactions that would now happen with fish habitat, I think that would be unrealistic. We were listing out the number of farmers that we all represent. That number would be extremely high, and I think would be a misplacement of limited funds that we have to undertake stewardship on the working landscape.

That would be an impact, but then also, as the definition would be worked out as to what the scope of it would be, there would be a lot of uncertainty. When you’re a business operation, uncertainty is not something that we like to welcome into business operations. Having it be very clear as to what is in scope and what is out of scope, I think, is extremely important.

Senator Poirier: Towards the end of your brief, you talked about the work that has to commence prior to the changes coming into force. Could you elaborate on the coming into force provision of the changes? In your opinion, does it need to be changed to have a smooth transition to the new regime?

Ms. Jackson: Sorry, could you clarify the question?

Senator Poirier: Yes. Towards the end of your brief — I’m talking about the brief that was submitted before — you talk about the work that has to commence prior to the changes coming into force. Can you elaborate on the coming into force provisions of the changes, and in your opinion, does it need to be changed in order to have a smooth transition to the regime?

Ms. Jackson: I think I’ll have to get back to you on that. Thanks.

Senator Poirier: You also mentioned the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s report on the environmental flows, where they didn’t even consider the federal regime. I’m curious as to why they wouldn’t consider the federal regime. Is it because it’s a provincial or territorial jurisdiction, in your opinion?

Ms. Jackson: I think there are a number of concerns in terms of overlap with provincial jurisdiction. If there is some scope placed on the deeming habitat provision, how that would add to what already exists in the act. I think those are two concerns.

Senator Poirier: Thank you.


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