(June 5, 2020, Fort McMurray, AB) – During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Alberta enacted various orders in the “interests of the public”. On March 30 and March 31, 2020, Minister Jason Nixon issued three orders; namely, Orders 15/2020, 16/2020, and 17/2020.
Orders 15/2020 and 16/2020 defers submission deadlines for compliance reports under the Technology Innovation and Emission Reduction Regulation and the Renewable Fuels Standard Regulation from March 31st to June 30, 2020.
Order 17/2020 completely suspends reporting requirements for approvals and registrations issued under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, for licenses and approvals under the Water Act, and disposition requirements under the Public Lands Act. The Order does not indicate whether these reports will be submitted later. The Orders are in force until August 14, 2020, unless the Ministry of Environment and Parks or the Lieutenant Governor in Council terminates it earlier.
As President of the Athabasca Tribal Council Ltd., our First Nations are deeply disappointed with the actions of the Government of Alberta in enacting these Orders. Many First Nations reside in close proximity to the oil sands operations in Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan. We are disproportionately affected by the environmental impacts of these operations. These environmental impacts also negatively impact our ability to exercise our treaty rights to hunt, trap, fish and gather. Yet, the Government of Alberta failed to consult with us as to how these Orders may impact our communities.
We find no comfort in having to rely on voluntary reporting. The health and safety of our people and the environment is a major concern. A concern the Government of Alberta does not appear to share. If the Government of Alberta wishes to sustain a meaningful relationship with the Indigenous peoples of Alberta, then we recommend that Indigenous perspectives are included when making decisions that will be significantly impacting Indigenous people and communities.
Considering that the state of public health emergency will not be renewed on June 15, 2020, we call on the Government of Alberta to immediately terminate these Orders, rather than waiting for them to expire August 14, 2020.
For more information:
Karla Buffalo | CEO, Athabasca Tribal Council