Updated Alberta Indigenous Consultation Guide aims to reduce red tape

(January 2020) – The Government of Alberta has released a new red tape reduction strategy that aims to improve consultation for industry and Indigenous people.

According to a government statement, an updated guide – The Government of Alberta’s Proponent Guide to First Nations and Metis Settlement Consultation Procedures – outlines a more cost-effective and efficient application process for industry to follow when there is a legal duty to consult.

A duty to consult is triggered when a development project may adversely affect treaty or Aboriginal rights, or cultural or harvesting practices.

“We heard from industry that they wanted to take steps to improve the consultation process,” noted Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson.

“This new guide not only responds to what industry told us, it benefits First Nations and Metis Settlements. The updated guide will help industry come to the table better prepared to address Indigenous people’s concerns. This will make the overall consultation process more effective, informed and respectful.”

When asked if there was Indigenous participation in the development of the updated guide, Minister Wilson’s Press Secretary Ted Bauer explained that the purpose was to streamline the guide. He said,

“The items that were cut down were all about streamlining the process. There was absolutely nothing impacted that required Indigenous participation.”

The Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO) will provide training for industry on the changes in process outlined in the guide.

According to a government statement, reducing red tape will improve the consultation process by providing a clearer application process to improve overall consultation and give industry and Indigenous communities more certainty when moving development projects forward. It should also reduce delays and costs to industry proponents by ensuring their applications have little chance of having to be returned due to lack of information or errors.

The new guide also aims to ensure that the ACO can better respond to industry needs while increasing the number of applications processed and moving more quickly to the development stage of proposed projects.

“These changes should help make consultation more efficient,” remarked Al Reid, executive vice-president, Stakeholder Engagement, Safety, Legal & General Counsel, Cenovus Energy Inc.

“We believe it will also help us be better prepared when working with Indigenous Peoples on important matters such as treaty or Aboriginal rights and harvesting and cultural practices. We want a process that benefits everyone.”

Alberta has declared Jan. 20-24 Red Tape Reduction Awareness Week. This coincides with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s own Red Tape Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the costs of regulatory burdens to businesses across Canada. This year, the CFIB gave Alberta B-minus for its efforts to cut red tape, the highest grade the province has ever achieved.

In 2018-19 the Aboriginal Consultation Office processed 7,400 applications. The guide will provide proponents with consultation information and advice specific to Alberta Energy Regulator-administered activities under the Public Lands Act, Water Act and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, which are processed through the Electronic Disposition Act.

To date, CutRedTape.Alberta.ca has received more than 4,500 submissions

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