On May 8, 2013, Alberta’s Aboriginal Relations Minister introduced Bill 22, the Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act, into the Legislature in an effort to provide Aboriginal groups in Alberta with the capacity and funding necessary to meaningfully engage in the consultation process. Bill 22 was developed in relation to the draft version of “The Government of Alberta’s Policy on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Natural Resource Management, 2013,” which the government of Alberta released last month (for details, see Osler’s Update). If adopted, Bill 22 will require proponents of provincially regulated activities to pay a consultation levy into a fund that will be disbursed to Aboriginal groups in Alberta. Noteworthy aspects of Bill 22 include the following:
- Bill 22 will apply to First Nation bands that have reserve land in Alberta, but the bill may also apply to Métis groups if they are designated by the responsible minister.
- The amount of the consultation levy will be determined by regulations that are yet to come.
- Proponents may be required to submit copies of agreements (including impact benefit agreements) to the responsible minister in order to provide the province with guidance on amount of funds that will be granted to eligible Aboriginal groups.
- Decisions made by the responsible minister under Bill 22 will not be appealable or reviewable.
- Bill 22 will apply only to approvals issued under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Forests Act, the Historical Resources Act, part 8 of the Mines and Minerals Act, the Public Lands Act, the Water Act, and all applicable regulations; however, there is no reference to approvals issued under enactments by the Energy Resource Conservation Board or the Alberta Utilities Commission (e.g., the Energy Resources Conservation Act, the Oil Sands Conservation Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, the Pipeline Act, the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the Electric Utilities Act, the Gas Utilities Act, the Hydro and Electric Energy Act).