It is part of a cross-country tour, gathering feedback on a bill that would change the way Canada assesses major energy projects.
Representatives from various companies, including Mosaic, Nutrien and Cameco spoke to the committee about their concerns.
“While the U.S. is simplifying and streamlining regulation, Bill C-69 is sending signals that Canada is moving in the opposite direction,” Nutrien vice-president Mike Webb said.
“Specifically regarding environmental or impact assessments, Mosaic firmly believes the jurisdiction for the assessment of potash projects should remain with the province of Saskatchewan, which has robustly regulated our sector for the last 40 years,” Sarah Fedorchuk, Mosaic public affairs and government relations vice-president, told the committee.
Bill C-69 would repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and retire the National Energy Board, leaving the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Canadian Energy Regulator as authorities responsible for assessments of the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of designated projects.
Cameco’s chief corporate officer Alice Wong said Bill C-69 also presents challenges for the uranium industry.
Wong said the biggest hurdle would be an automatic referral to a panel review process, which is a more complicated process that other mines and mills would go through.
“Without the amendments that we’d like to see, it adds a lot of uncertainty. It adds a lot of costs, without adding the extra environmental benefit to it,” Wong said.
Around a dozen people gathered outside the Delta Bessborough to rally in protest of the bill.
“I hope strongly the Senate takes to heart all the things they’ve been hearing,” said Lynn Nellis, with Canada Action.
“I feel confident they will make amendments. If the amendments don’t go through that have been suggested, I think it will be a devastating bill for Canadians,” Nellis said.
“We are already talking about amendments and there are many stakeholders that have put forward some amendments, and so the committee will study and review them,” Senate committee chair Rosa Galvez said.
“The need for clarity in the rules. The need for giving more certainty to the industry and to investors to come and invest in Canada, but also about reinforcing reconciliation with First Nation and Indigenous people and also to increase the trust with the public. We’re going to have amendments in all those areas,” Galvez said.
Following public hearings at nine Canadian cities, the committee report will go to the Senate in May.
-With files from the Canadian Press