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Minister’s Statement — Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s 2020-2022 Triennial Report

Countries around the world are investing in clean energy technologies as global markets advance towards a net-zero future. The Government of Canada is supporting job-creating projects that help deliver clean air and clean power for communities.

Budget 2023 is delivering over $80 billion in clean technology investments, including over $40 billion in modernizing Canada’s grid infrastructure. Communities across Canada are deploying clean technologies suited to their context in order to deliver affordable, reliable and clean power where it is needed.

For many communities, this includes the current and future development of nuclear power generation from traditional and small-modular reactors.

Canada has been a world leader in nuclear energy since the development of the CANDU reactor in 1952. Canada, nuclear energy provides 15 percent of our electricity, offsetting over 50 million tonnes of carbon emissions across the country each year while also providing critical radioisotopes for life-saving cancer treatments and medical diagnoses.

The nuclear industry in Canada is also an important contributor to our economy, accounting for approximately 76,000 good-quality, high-paying jobs. For these reasons, the Government of Canada is supporting communities to benefit from the significant potential of safe and responsible nuclear development and deployment. These job-creating clean investments support our climate, energy security and economic goals, both domestically and with long-standing and like-minded allies.

When it comes to nuclear energy and technologies, protecting the health, safety and security of people and the environment is the federal government’s top priority. This includes having effective long-term management plans in place for radioactive waste.

In 2007, the Government of Canada selected the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)’s recommendation to contain and isolate nuclear fuel waste in a deep geological repository (DGR) in an area with suitable geology and a willing and informed host community as Canada’s Plan.

In accordance with the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, NWMO has since worked effectively toward advancing this plan. This includes its comprehensive, community-based site selection process, working in partnership with Indigenous communities and municipalities that could potentially host the deep geological repository. 

In 2020–2022, despite challenges brought on by COVID-19, the NWMO made considerable progress in demonstrating and ensuring safety, building partnerships with municipalities and Indigenous communities in the remaining two potential siting areas, on transportation planning and preparing for post-site selection.

It is commendable that the NWMO continues to work on advancing reconciliation by enhancing its policies and procedures; ensuring Indigenous knowledge is a basis of its work; expanding its reconciliation training program; and applying a reconciliation assessment tool to its polices and governance structures.

The fact that the NWMO is on track to select a site in 2024 and begin the regulatory process will make Canada one of the world’s leading countries in the advancement of a deep geological repository — joining Finland, Sweden, France and Switzerland.

I invite Canadians to learn more about the NWMO’s work through this report.

I commend the NWMO on its work and its continued progress in implementing this plan.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources

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