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Second Reading - Bill 85
(7 November 2017)

From Hansard - 7 November 2017

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Bill No. 85 — The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Amendment Act, 2017

Hon. Ms. Heppner: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise and provide second reading for The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Amendment Act, 2017. This bill will amend The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act currently in use.

The current Act was approved in 2007 and, as part of its attendant regulations, implemented the institutional control program. The institutional control program, or ICP, manages the transfer of remediated sites back to the provincial custody and manages the long-term monitoring and maintenance of those sites. The ICP helps ensure the protection of the environment and public health and safety long into the future while also giving a mining company closure once they’ve fulfilled their obligation to remediate a site.

The program has proven valuable and prudent in the time since it was put into force. It has provided Saskatchewan with a practical means of providing environmental stewardship as well as closure to the industry. In this manner it has proven to be an asset for industry and government and also for attracting investment. Saskatchewan remains one of the most preferred jurisdictions in the world for mining investment and we continue to build on this reputation among the global industry.

The original Act requires a mandatory review of its provisions within five years of coming into force. In completing that review, Ministry of Energy and Resources has consulted with stakeholders and as a result is now introducing amendments to the Act to address issues that have been identified in the course of those stakeholder discussions.

Amendments will address the following issues. First, clarification on the statutory authority of the minister to require financial assurances. This simply clarifies that the minister can ensure that the provincial government’s financial risk position is mitigated in the event of an unforeseen site failure. The ICP requires that a site holder post an assurance fund, commonly called a financial assurance, for a remediated site in an amount that reflects the cost of remediating a maximum failure event at that site. The financial assurance may be in the form of cash, cheque, or any other financial instrument or security.

Creating tailing ponds are a common practice to help oil sands operators recycle 80 to 95 per cent of the fresh water used in mining operations, reducing the use of fresh water. Even after these sites are returned to the province from the site holder and enter into the ICP, if something were to happen to these tailing ponds, financial assurances would be used to fund the cost of remediating that failure.

The second amendment is establishing a process for the transfer of rights and ownership for a closed site that has been accepted into the ICP. This means a process is put in place to allow a different company to take responsibility for the land and the liabilities from the province if that company is approved to do so.

Third, contemplation of exemption of liability for the fund advisory committee. This is put in place to strengthen the protection of the committee in the event that the investment advice does not achieve expected results despite following strict rules that guaranteed no loss of that initial investment.

And fourth, inclusion of an ongoing mandatory review process for The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act, which requires that legislation is regularly reviewed to ensure it is meeting its intended purposes.

I’m pleased to say that this bill has the support of industry, industry organizations, and the federal and provincial regulators involved in our stakeholder consultations. They feel that it addresses concerns they have about the Act and the programs in their current forms. The alternative of maintaining the status quo would not only have a negative impact with these stakeholders; it would also arguably fail to meet our obligations under the existing Act. Such an outcome would not be in keeping with the kind of leadership, responsiveness, and opportunity that the global mining industry has come to expect from Saskatchewan.

This is instead an example for other jurisdictions to follow in terms of clear policies and commitment to environmental stewardship and regulatory responsibility that we are known for. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Amendment Act, 2017.

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