Language selection


Impact assessments

Explore the role our department plays in providing scientific and technical expertise to support the various federal assessment processes in Canada

Our role in impact assessments

What is an impact assessment?

An impact assessment is a process for identifying, predicting, and evaluating the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of development proposals before allowing them to proceed. This process includes opportunities for public engagement as well as Indigenous engagement, reconciliation and partnership.

Find out more about the new impact assessment process

How do we contribute

As a leader in the fields of earth sciences, energy, forestry, and minerals and metals, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is required by federal assessment legislation to provide its expertise to contribute to the assessment process for development projects across the country.

Providing scientific and technical expertise

Our department has a broad and extensive mandate that allows us to contribute significantly to the federal assessment process. NRCan experts frequently provide advice on:

Explore more of the scientific expertise in our department

Determining economic and socio-economic effects on Canadians

In addition to scientific expertise, the department conducts analyses on project proposals for major development projects (for energy, mining, etc.) to determine how they affect Canadians from an economic and socio-economic perspective. Impacts on employment, local businesses, and regional and national economic activity are analyzed to help support the analysis to determine whether a project is in the interest of Canadians.

Regulatory role of the department

During the federal assessment process for a project, the Explosives, Regulatory and Business Services Branch (ERBSB) takes the appropriate actions to ensure that project components and activities comply with the Explosives Act and Explosives Regulations requirements. ERBSB issues licenses and permits that authorize the storage and manufacturing of explosives related to a project and ensures that these activities adhere to the regulations. In addition, ERBSB fulfills consultation obligations with Indigenous Peoples and the public related to the issuance of these licenses and permits.

Our role in assessments for projects in northern Canada

The Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon all have separate legislation that applies to the assessment process for projects in these regions. The assessment processes share similarities with one another and also with the federal legislation that applies in the rest of Canada.

NRCan contributes the same scientific advice and technical expertise to support the assessment in northern regions as it does for the rest of Canada.

Find out more about environmental assessments in Canada’s North.

Evaluating environmental effects on federal lands

Under federal impact assessment legislation, our department has a requirement to evaluate the environmental effects of projects on federal lands that are funded through departmental initiatives.

NRCan needs to ensure that any NRCan funded programs and initiatives that involve physical activities (construction, demolition, site clearing, etc.) related to physical works (buildings, infrastructure, etc.) are assessed properly to minimize their environmental footprint when necessary.

Did you know?

Project information and documents related to the federal assessments for projects across Canada are available to the public at the various registries.

Our role in strategic environmental assessments

What is a strategic environmental assessment?

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a comprehensive process for evaluating the environmental effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or other strategic-level initiative.

This assessment process under the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals requires that departments and agencies conduct a SEA when a proposal that may cause positive or negative environmental effects is submitted to a Minister or Cabinet for approval.

How is it different?

SEA is a separate process from the environmental assessment of projects required under the Impact Assessment Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and the processes in Canada’s north.

Strategic environmental assessments can be used as a tool to streamline future project-level assessment. They provide the means to incorporate environmental considerations early in decision-making, along with any economic and social considerations. When conducted early in the planning stage, a SEA can identify potential negative environmental effects to be avoided or mitigated and highlight potential environmental benefits to help inform the proposal development.

How it works at NRCan

At NRCan, there is a three-stage system for ensuring a clear and iterative process while meeting the requirements set out in the Cabinet Directive.

  1. Preliminary Strategic Environmental Assessment (Pre-SEA) – This process assists in determining the appropriate level of SEA that is required.
  2. Strategic Environmental Assessment Scan (SEA Scan) – This process helps to determine the importance of the environmental effects likely to arise from a proposal, if it were implemented.
  3. Detailed Strategic Environmental Assessment (Detailed SEA) – This process involves a comprehensive analysis of both positive and negative important environmental effects of a proposal, if it were implemented

Public statements

NRCan is required by the Cabinet Directive to prepare a public statement when an assessment of environmental effects has been conducted through a detailed SEA. The purpose is to demonstrate that environmental considerations have been integrated into the decision-making process. Departments determine the content and extent of the public statement according to the circumstances of each case. Upon the official announcement of the initiative, NRCan will post a public statement at the following page summarizing the detailed SEA results.

Public Statements for Detailed SEAs

Public Statements Listing

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency page featuring links to public statements from other government departments and agencies.

Page details

Date modified: