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Modernizing Canada's radioactive waste policy – Consultation

Status: Closed

This consultation ran from 2020 to 2023.

Objectives of the review

The objectives of the policy review and modernization of Canada’s radioactive waste policy were to:

  • Elaborate on the existing radioactive waste policy and provide clearer direction and greater leadership on radioactive waste management
  • Stimulate and facilitate progress on the safe, effective, and environmentally acceptable management of radioactive waste in Canada
  • Continue to meet international standards based on the best available science, and reflect the values and principles of Canadians

As part of the review, Natural Resources Canada engaged broadly with Indigenous peoples, interested citizens, provinces and territories, and the public.

Engagement principles

  • Flexible – adaptive and sensitive to the current health crisis. Where feasible, this includes alternative virtual and remote engagement methods to respect the public’s health and well-being of the public regarding COVID-19.
  • Meaningful – informed engagement, based on a two-way dialogue that is understanding and responsive to concerns raised.
  • Respectful – of time, capacity, and priorities of prospective participants; seeking to involve Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge keepers while being attentive to traditional protocols.
  • Timely – providing adequate engagement timelines that allow Indigenous peoples, and other participants, to review the information and convey their perspectives.
  • Transparent – building trust through openness, predictability and transparency.
  • Broad-based and inclusive – providing an open engagement process for all Canadians, taking into account different capacities to participate.

We engaged with Indigenous peoples, the general public, stakeholders, experts, and other interested parties between launch and conclusion of the process in 2023 to review and modernize Canada’s radioactive waste policy for future generations.

Guiding values and principles of a modernized radioactive waste policy

Going into the engagement process, the core values and principles to the policy that are important to Canadians and Indigenous peoples were to be part of the new forward-looking, modernized radioactive waste policy. These principles include:

  • Protecting the Safety of People and the Environment is the Government’s top priority when it comes to nuclear energy and the management of radioactive waste. As an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) member and in keeping with international requirements, Canada is committed to developing policies based on international practices and IAEA guidance for radioactive waste in a manner that protects human health and the environment without imposing undue burdens on future generations.
  • Openness, Transparency and Public Consultation are guiding principles of the Government of Canada, including all facets of radioactive waste management. From policy and regulatory development to project reviews, making government information available to Canadians transparently for public consumption is a priority for us.
  • The Government of Canada is deeply committed to advancing reconciliation and a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples. As laws and policies are developed and reviewed, the Government recognizes that Indigenous perspectives and rights must be incorporated. This approach reflects the Government’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As the review process of Canada’s radioactive waste policy proceeds, the Government will work with Indigenous peoples to ensure that it is aligned with the UN Declaration. Natural Resources Canada is committed to building partnerships and providing more opportunities for Indigenous peoples through inclusive growth and sharing in Canada’s natural resources prosperity and development. This includes business opportunities, the development of programs and policies, a review of projects, and braiding and weaving Indigenous Knowledge to complement, enhance, supplement, and strengthen western science. Recognizing Indigenous peoples' shared interest in the review of Canada’s radioactive waste policy, the Government will engage with Indigenous peoples in good faith and respect with the vision of creating a shared future in the management of radioactive waste in Canada.

What we heard

meetings and virtual engagement sessions

written submissions received

online forum posts

Final report

This final report sets out the context for the management of radioactive waste and decommissioning in Canada, the oversight regime that applies, and the main points of feedback we heard on modernizing Canada’s policy for radioactive waste management and decommissioning. We received views on:

  • values and principles to modernize the policy
  • the roles and responsibilities of government, the regulator, industry and others
  • Canadians’ perspectives for the policy as it relates to several topics, including radioactive waste minimization, storage, decommissioning, and disposal

Download the What We Heard report
(PDF, 2.1 MB)

Engagement reports

These reports provide a snapshot of views and perspectives we have received from interested Canadians including Indigenous groups regarding Canada’s radioactive waste policy. Engagement Summary Report 1 summarizes views and perspectives received between 16 November 2020 and 19 February 2021. Engagement Summary Report 2 summarizes views and perspectives received between 20 February 2021 and 14 May 2021.

Key items for discussion

Comments and ideas submitted

Please note that information provided by external sources may not be subject to the Official Languages Act and is published in the language(s) in which it was submitted. Where applicable, comments that violate the Terms of Use have been redacted. The submissions reflect the views from interested participants, but does not reflect policy direction, nor Natural Resources Canada’s intent. The Government of Canada is not responsible for the content of other websites quoted in the submissions and does not endorse the sites and their content.

Submissions by topic

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