2018 Act - Guidance Documents Related to Environmental Assessments

The following documents are relevant to projects undergoing an environmental assessment under the 2018 Act, and are provided to help proponents through the environmental assessment process, or those wishing to explore EAO policies and regulations in greater detail.

The EA User Guide (PDF) provides an overview of the EA process and associated considerations and should be your first step if you're not already deeply familiar with the EA process. 

Guidance documents still in development will be ready by the time they are needed by proponents and EA participants entering that phase of the Environmental Assessment.

For information on how projects under the 2002 Act may transition to the 2018 Act, please see the Transition Provisions FAQs.

Guidance Documents by Process Phase

The Early Engagement phase is the start of the regulatory process with the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and provides an opportunity for all participants to better understand the project and establish a foundation for the rest of the Environmental Assessment (EA). Early Engagement is an important preparatory phase where meaningful conversations among participants begin about the proposed project to identify engagement approaches, potential interests, issues, and concerns early in the EA process and chart a path for resolution. Indigenous nations interested in participating in the EA process as participating Indigenous nations must provide notice during Early Engagement. The EAO begins working with participating Indigenous nations to customize consensus-seeking approaches with each nation for the rest of the EA process.

Using the foundation provided by the Early Engagement phase, a decision will be made on whether a project should proceed to an EA during the Readiness Decision. Typically, the early engagement phase will provide that enough information is available to confirm readiness to start an EA, with key issues identified for resolution later in the EA process. Occasionally, a project may be terminated or exempted from an EA, by a Minister’s decision. Participating Indigenous nations have an opportunity to provide a notice of their consent or lack of consent if the recommendation is to exempt or terminate the project from the EA process.

Available Guidance

Guidance in Development

  • Public Participation Funding Policy - 2021

Process Planning formalizes how the environmental assessment (EA) must be carried out, including identifying the required information; defining who does what, when, and how; and determining how participants work together for the rest of the EA and future engagement approaches (including public engagement). Each Process Order is customized to reflect the project and uses the foundation built in the Early Engagement and the Readiness Decision phases to set the scope, procedures, and methods of the EA.

Available Guidance

During Application Development, the proponent works with participating Indigenous nations and environmental assessment (EA) participants to develop their Application for an EA Certificate. Early feedback on data collection or analysis can help to identify and resolve key issues, reducing the potential for delays later in the process  

During Application Review, the EAO, participating Indigenous nations, Technical Advisory Committee, and Community Advisory Committee review the Application and direction is provided to the proponent on revisions that should be reflected in the revised Application. The direction includes the results from public engagement on the Application and any matters regarding advice provided by the Technical Advisory Committee or Community Advisory Committee.

Available Guidance

An effects assessment of the project is conducted, resulting in the development of a draft assessment report and draft environmental assessment (EA) Certificate (with conditions). These drafts reflect engagement with participating Indigenous nations, the Technical Advisory Committee, the Community Advisory Committee and the public. Before referral to Provincial decision-makers, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft Assessment Report that describes the potential effects of the project, and the draft EA Certificate and associated legally binding conditions the proponent must follow for the life of the project, should a certificate be issued.

Recommendations to inform Provincial decision-makers are also prepared. Participating Indigenous nations have the opportunity to provide notice of their consent or lack of consent on the recommendation to Provincial decision-makers.

Once the referral package is submitted to Provincial decision-makers, the Ministers must consider the Assessment Report, the Chief Executive Assessment Officer’s recommendations, the sustainability and reconciliation purposes of the EAO and any other matters they consider relevant to the public interest. If the recommendation does not align with a notice of consent or lack of consent, Ministers must offer a meeting to that participating Indigenous nation.

Ministers can decide to issue a certificate, or refuse to issue a certificate, and are required to publish reasons for their decision. If the Ministers’ decision does not align with the notice of consent or lack of consent, reasons must be provided.

Available Guidance

If an environmental assessment (EA) Certificate is issued, post-certificate activities include mitigation effectiveness reports and may include audits, certificate amendments, extensions, and transfers.

The Compliance & Enforcement branch of the EAO conducts compliance inspections of regulated parties and projects, and, where required, uses enforcement to ensure that projects are designed, built, operated, and decommissioned or reclaimed in compliance with the legally binding requirements of the Act, its regulations and any EA Certificates or Exemption Order.

Available Guidance



Foundational Guidance Documents

Available Guidance

Guidance in Development

  • Public Engagement Guide - 2021
  • Dispute Resolution Intentions Paper - 2021

Regulations in Force

Regulations in Development

  • Indigenous Capacity Tariff
  • Dispute Resolution Regulation
  • Regional Assessment Regulation
  • Strategic Assessment Regulation

Available Guidance

Guidance in Development

  • Designation Policy - 2021
  • Materials to Support Implementation of Cooperation Agreement - 2021



Other Resource Documents: