Evaluation of the Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO) 2016-2017 to 2018-2019

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Final Report
July 2019

Acknowledgments
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) would like to thank all of the key informants who generously gave of their time and shared their knowledge to contribute to the evaluation of the Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO). Without their participation and their insights, this report would not have been possible. CanNor also acknowledges the work done by TDV Global Inc. who was contracted to conduct this evaluation.

 

Table of contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations

CanNor
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
CEAA
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
CIRNAC
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
DFO
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
EA
Environmental Assessment
ECCC
Environment and Climate Change Canada
GNWT
Government of Northwest Territories
MoU
Memorandum of Understanding
MVRMA
Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
MVEIRB
Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board
NIRB
Nunavut Impact Review Board
NLCA
Nunavut Land Claim Agreement
NPC
Nunavut Planning Commission
NPMO
Northern Projects Management Office
NRCan
Natural Resources Canada
NuPPAA
Nunavut Project Planning and Project Assessment Act
TC
Transport Canada
YESAA
Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
YESAB
Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board

Glossary

Duty to Consult Refers to Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Crown's Duty to Consult Indigenous groups and communities.
EA The abbreviation EA is used throughout as Environment Assessment, but the authors recognize there is a broadening of assessments to include socio-economic factors and the terminology is evolving to a more accurate term of impact assessments.
FM The federal Minister responsible for the legislation. In the case of NuPPA, MVRMA and YESAA, that is the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (now referred to as CIRNAC). In the case of the CEAA, it is the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
RM/DB Responsible Minster (RM) and Decision Body (DB) are the terms used in the different pieces of legislation to refer to the federal and territorial departments and other organizations that are designated as parties and decision makers on a particular EA process.
Section 35 Refers to Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Crown's Duty to Consult
North/Northern For the purposes of this report in relation to the Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO), the North includes Canada's three territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Executive Summary

Introduction
The Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO) was established within the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) in 2010 based on a recommendation in the Road to Improvement: Review of the Regulatory Systems across the North Report. The NPMO's mandate is to improve the environmental review process for proposed majorFootnote 1 resource development and infrastructure projects in the three territories by increasing federal coordination and policy capacity in the northern regulatory review process, and by improving the coordination of Crown consultations with Indigenous groups in the regulatory review process.

The NPMO Initiative is part of a larger Government of Canada commitment to create a more effective and efficient northern regulatory system that encourages increased investment in sustainable resource development while enhancing environmental protection. The NPMO is a service organization that facilitates and coordinates various activities throughout the life-cycle of a proposed resource development or regional infrastructure project. NPMO takes a project management approach to ensure that activities and processes are well defined, transparent, timely and predictable and that federal agencies and departments involved in the environmental assessment (EA) and licensing and permitting processes clearly understand their role and are accountable for their performance.

The NPMO works collaboratively with federal regulatory departments and agencies to manage regulatory requirements for major resource and regional infrastructure projects in the North. In addition to CanNor, where the NPMO is located, the federal regulatory departments and agencies are responsible for supporting northern environmental assessment and regulatory permitting regimes. In addition to federal government departments and agencies, the NPMO works with:

The NPMO has been subject to three cycles of funding: from 2010-11 to 2012-13; from 2013-14 to 2015-16; and from 2016-17 to 2019-20 via an extension of funding for an additional four years.

This evaluation was conducted to examine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the initiative and assess whether improvements could be achieved going forward by making recommendations as required in alignment with the three evaluation issues.

The evaluation addresses all objectives of the NPMO Initiative and core activities of the NPMO and is focused on the three-year period taking place since the last evaluation of the NPMO, namely 2016-17 to 2018-19. This evaluation was conducted as per the Treasury Board Policy on Results (2016) and focuses specifically on commitments made in the Treasury Board Submission that provided funding for the 2016-17 to 2019-20 period.

Methodology
The evaluation was conducted in four phases: planning, data collection, analysis and reporting. The planning phase included development of the evaluation plan, including a work plan, data collection instruments, and the evaluation matrix (see Annex B). The evaluation consisted of three main lines of evidence: key informant interviews, document review and case studies. Data collection was carried out between November 2018 and early January 2019, including field visits to Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife to interview NPMO staff and stakeholders.

Summary of Findings
The report presents findings by evaluation question and sub-question.

Relevance focuses on the extent to which there is a continued need for NPMO and its core activities and whether NPMO aligns with government priorities, CanNor priorities as well as federal roles and responsibilities more generally. Some of the key findings for relevance included:

Effectiveness focused on the production of NPMO outputs as planned and progress towards the achievement of expected outcomes. Key findings for effectiveness included:

Efficiency and economy focused on the design of the NPMO, its governance structure, and how it uses performance information. Key findings for efficiency and economy included:

Conclusions
Conclusions derived from analysis of the available data derived from all three lines of evidence have been developed and are presented by evaluation area.

Relevance
The NPMO delivers relevant and important services for the Government of Canada including federal government coordination, maintaining and monitoring the adequacy of the Crown consultation record, and providing support for issue management.

Other external services (i.e. services intended for stakeholders outside of the Government of Canada) such as single-window access to the federal government and pathfinder services may be relevant and have value, but their importance varies across stakeholders and across the three involved jurisdictions. The "single window" aspect of NPMO services currently requires better definition. While often implied as an external service that incorporates pathfinding, issue and advice management, and potentially other services, there is a lack of clarity regarding what the single window actually provides. NPMO activities in the post-EA, licensing and permitting phase is an area worth further exploration regarding possible value added of NPMO involvement, even if on a case-by-case basis.

Additional services that NPMO offers are considered lower priority by stakeholders, namely promoting investment in the North and socio-economic assessments. While still necessary activities in the North, NPMO should consider deprioritizing the delivery of these services given its current understaffed complement, competing priorities that this work introduces, and the inconsistency of service delivery on more critical core services.

Assessment of the relevance of the mandate, role and services of NPMO was often blurred by a lack of understanding on the part of stakeholders. A more in-depth analysis of NPMO stakeholders, as well as Indigenous groups and communities, and their associated needs and expectations is warranted to better define and clarify the NPMO service offering to those groups. Redefinition and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of NPMO is an activity that requires continuous engagement with partners and stakeholders due to persistent and ongoing changes in the operating context, including staffing changes, the introduction of new stakeholder organizations and individuals, and fundamental transformation of the overarching working environment including devolution in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories as well as the negotiations toward devolution in Nunavut.

Effectiveness
As the NPMO moves forward, it will be important to ensure the quality and consistency of service delivery to its Government of Canada stakeholders. Equally, when offering services to external clients, the needs of those stakeholders must be understood and addressed within their individual contexts. Based on a co-management model, the territorial regulatory regimes are different, as are the territorial government structures, Review Boards and industry sectors. As such, a "one-size-fits-all" offering is not feasible, and some degree of customization is required.

NPMO is in the complex position of having no regulatory role while being held responsible for coordinating federal regulatory departments without formal authority over those departments. This model can only work under certain conditions. One condition is undoubtedly the proper functioning of the NPMO and consistency in service delivery. The other necessary condition is an updated formalization of the relationships between NPMO and other federal departments and agencies (e.g., through an updated MoU) and the goodwill of the federal regulatory departments involved in the process. Most interviewees with federal representatives commented that such goodwill has in many cases been absent. Managing these challenging relationships with the other departments to engender better support is a role envisaged for the NPMO Director General, a position that has been filled on an interim basis for a large part of this evaluation period.Footnote 2

The assessment of NPMO's performance has been hampered by a logic model and performance measurement framework that are largely unaligned with the actual roles and activities of the NPMO, with outcomes that are set at too high a level for attribution. A more appropriately aligned performance framework would provide better decision-making information and assist the organization on focusing on its core functions.

As noted in the report, maintaining adequate human resources within the NPMO has been a challenge and is the main factor contributing to its performance. While staffing in the North is a challenge, there is an opportunity for CanNor, as Canada's economic development agency for the region, to show leadership on alternative human resource strategies for ensuring the right capacity is in place as needed.

Efficiency
Effective governance is a critical success factor for the NPMO as it is in a position of having responsibility for federal government coordination but is not a regulatory body and does not have authority over the other departments or the process itself. When issues arise, there needs to be fair and transparent means to seek solutions. The current reconstitution of the DG Committee for Major Projects is a step in the right direction, but its effectiveness will need to be monitored and assessed.

The NPMO organizational design should have adequate flexibility to be able to respond to the ebbs and flows of resource development projects in the North. It should also maintain adequate management and performance monitoring of its staff and satellite offices. The NPMO would benefit from an organizational review to identify potential areas for improving efficiency or effectiveness and to allow for flexibility in its staffing of the HQ and satellite offices, as well as reconfiguration of management structures.

Recommendations
Following assessment and analysis of the evidence, the evaluation has produced four recommendations across three thematic areas.

Recommendation Actions to be Taken in Support of Recommendation
1. Refocus on the Core
Recommendation #1:
In the short to medium-term, the NPMO should focus on strengthening delivery of the core services of federal government coordination, maintenance and monitoring of the adequacy of the Crown consultation record, and issue management.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Develop and conduct of a strategic planning process to better define the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the NPMO along with the core service offerings for both the EA and subsequent licensing and permitting phase;
  • As part of that process, conduct a detailed stakeholder analysis for the three territories, including Indigenous groups and communities, as stakeholders needs vary across jurisdictions;
  • Re-assess service offerings to external stakeholders in terms of single-window access to the federal regulatory bodies and pathfinder services;
  • Leverage the strategic planning process as an opportunity for NPMO to re-engage with its stakeholders and provide clarity on its own roles and responsibilities, including review and revision of the existing MoUs for the federal government departments as required. A determination of whether a version of Northern Project Agreements should be reintroduced as a means for continuous agreement on governance can be made at this time, especially given the high turnover of staff in the North in all departments; and
  • Development of a program charter document (e.g., MoU, Results-Based Accountability Framework, etc.) that would anchor its core mandate, followed by the active and continuous socialization of the charter with stakeholders to promote awareness and clarity of its role and activities.
Recommendation #2
NPMO should revise its logic model and corresponding performance measurement framework based on the results of the refocusing exercise conducted as part of Recommendation 1.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Testing all identified performance indicators to ensure that they are valid, that supporting data exists, that they are timely and cost-effective to collect, and that they are relevant for decision making.
2. Fit for Purpose
Recommendation #3
The NPMO should reassess its organizational design (positions and structure) to permit flexibility to respond to ebbs and flows of resource development projects in the North and maintain adequate management and performance monitoring of its staff and satellite offices.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Addition of a dedicated HR position to assist CanNor in the staffing of NPMO positions;
  • Implementation of a tiered management structure to ensure adequate management of the satellite offices while permitting the DG to focus on strategic issues and stakeholder relations instead of day-to-day management operations; and
  • Assessment of alternative HR strategies in consultation with CanNor. It is beyond the purview of this evaluation to formally assess such alternatives, but areas that could be explored include:
    • Creation of a roster of subject matter experts that can take on short-term (less than 3 month) assignments in the North;
    • Training of staff to be conversant in the regulatory regime of more than one territory and to monitor projects in the second territory;
    • Maintenance of flexible locations in the contracting of personnel; and
    • Active recruitment for 120% of positions.
3. Improve the Tools
Recommendation #4
NPMO should review specific aspects of its operations that require additional attention, including review of the NPMO website, information systems and Standard Operating Procedures.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Redefinition of the purpose and associated re-design of the NPMO website;
  • Definition of the information needs of stakeholders as part of the stakeholder analysis activity undertaken under as part of the refocusing exercise (Recommendation 1);
  • Definition of the information management needs of NPMO and development of appropriate IT solutions, which at a minimum should include an enterprise client-relationship management (CRM) platform and shared document platform across all three offices; and
  • Revision of the NPMO Standard Operating Procedures in accordance with the updated identification of information needs and changes made to the IT infrastructure.

1.0 Introduction

Created in 2009, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) is one of Canada's six Regional Development Agencies (RDA) and part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) portfolio. The Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO) was established within CanNor in 2010. NPMO has the mandate to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency of northern regulatory processes to foster a more stable and attractive investment climate in the territories. NPMO is headquartered in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with offices in Yukon and Nunavut. In CanNor's 2018-19 Program Inventory, NPMO is represented under the 'Northern Project Management' program and it is linked to the Agency's core responsibility of supporting economic development in the territories.

This evaluation is required to fulfill a TBS Policy on Results (2016) requirement, to assess progress towards intended program outcomes, and to ensure that evidence-based decision-making guides future programming pertaining to major project development in the North. The evaluation team was comprised of evaluation consultants from TDV Global and the Technical Authority was CanNor.

1.1 Program Overview

In Canada's territories, natural resources remain the region's economic backbone and large-scale driver for development and employment. Accounting for approximately 40 percent of Canada's landmass, the North's mineral and oil and gas assets have vast economic potential but remain largely undeveloped.

In the North, environmental review processes are founded in the framework for land claims and are guided by federal territory-specific and territorial (where devolution has occurred) legislation which govern waters, surface rights, environmental and socio-economic assessment, and land use. Specifically:

  • In Yukon, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA);
  • In the Northwest Territories, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) in part of the Northwest Territories (with the exception as noted below); and
  • In Nunavut, the Nunavut Project Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA) and the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (NLCA).

As an exception, the Inuvialuit settlement region (with land in the Northwest Territories, and the North Slope Region of the Yukon) is governed by the Inuvialuit Final AgreementFootnote 3 and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). The CEAA also applies to certain other federally regulated areas in the including offshore waters of the North.

These territorial regulatory regimes are based on a co-management approach to resource development and other major projects such as infrastructure. Reviews are conducted by co-management boards with responsibility for the planning, environmental and regulation of land and water use on Crown, territorial, settlement and private lands, and the examination of potential socio-economic impacts. Co-management boards are independent public institutions comprised of appointed board members based on recommendations from the federal and territorial governments, as well as Indigenous organizations and governments.

Federal government departments with regulatory authority on major projects in the North include the following (please see Annex A for additional information on the role of each department and agency in the Northern regulatory processes for major projects):

  • Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC);
  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN);
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO);
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC);
  • Transport Canada (TC);
  • Parks Canada (PC);
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA);
  • National Energy Board (NEB); and
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)

Aside from CanNor, all federal partners in the NPMO have their costs covered within their existing financial resource structure and are not receiving additional funding through the NPMO Initiative. As a result, while the NPMO Initiative involves horizontal coordination between federal entities, it is not formally considered a Federal Horizontal Initiative.

The NPMO project portfolio consists of projects planning on entering the environmental assessment process, projects currently within that process, and approved projects moving to implementation via the permitting phase.

As of November 2018, the NPMO project portfolio consisted of 34 projects worth approximately $36.6 billion. The projects include 24 mining projects, eight infrastructure projects, and two oil and gas initiatives. Of those, 15 are in what is called pre-planning, that is planning to enter the environmental assessment (EA) phase, eight are in the EA process; and 11 have had EA approval and are in the permitting phase. It is important to note that approximately 20 of those 34 projects have been inactive for more than two years. Inactive projects will be discussed in more detail later in the body of this report.

The NPMO works collaboratively with federal regulatory departments and agencies to manage regulatory requirements for major resource projects in the North. Specifically, the NPMO maintains a number of governance mechanisms to help advance resource development and major projects. These include:

  • Territorial Project Committees for each territory, which can meet quarterly each year to review the state of resource development and emerging issues in the territory. These groups can include regulatory boards, territorial and federal regulatory departments and agencies, and Indigenous organizations on issues of common interest;
  • Resource Development Advisory Groups (RDAGs), which include project proponents, territorial and federal regulators, and Indigenous representatives, that review the parameters for the project before it enters environmental assessment, providing an opportunity for early issues identification, the building of relationships, guidance to proponents and adjustment of the project design; and
  • Project Working Groups, specific to each project, that coordinate federal input into the regulatory process and can include involvement of territorial governments when acting as regulators. These groups review project documents, assess impacts, coordinate the collection and dissemination of information, and oversee the federal decision process.

1.2 Program Objectives

The NPMO Initiative is part of a larger Government of Canada commitment to create a more effective and efficient northern regulatory system that encourages increased investment in sustainable resource development while enhancing environmental protection.

The NPMO was established within CanNor in 2010 based on a recommendation in the Road to Improvement: Review of the regulatory systems across the North Report. The NPMO's mandate is to improve the environmental review process for proposed majorFootnote 4 resource development and infrastructure projects in the three territories by increasing federal coordination and policy capacity in the northern regulatory review process and improving the coordination of Crown consultations with Indigenous groups in the regulatory review process.

The NPMO is a service organization that facilitates and coordinates various activities throughout the life-cycle of a proposed resource development or regional infrastructure projects. NPMO takes a project management approach to ensure that activities and processes are well defined, transparent, timely and predictable and that federal agencies and departments involved in the environmental assessment (EA) and licensing and permitting processes clearly understand their role and are accountable for their performance.

The NPMO has been subject to three cycles of funding: from 2010-11 to 2012-13; from 2013-14 to 2015-16; and from 2016-17 to 2019-20 via an extension of funding for an additional four years.

NPMO delivers services to project proponents when proponents request assistance from NPMO; when more than one federal department has a role in the review process for the proposed project; and if there is a Crown consultation obligation. As the single window federal coordinator in the North, the NPMO's mandate includes improving the timeliness, predictability and transparency of northern regulatory processes to foster a stable and attractive investment climate for major projects in the North.

NPMO has three main activities and related outputs:

  1. Supporting robust and thorough environmental assessment processes through coordination and issues management of major projects in the North (approximately 53% of resources requested);
  2. Supporting Crown consultation dutiesFootnote 5 including early engagement and meaningful participation of Indigenous peoples and northern communities (approximately 26% of resources requested); and
  3. Providing technical expert capacity to deliver evidence-based assessments (approximately 21% of resources requested).

According to the NPMO Logic Model (see Annex B),Footnote 6 the immediate outcomes of the NPMO Initiative are that:

  • Movement of major projects through the regulatory system is effective, comprehensive and transparent;
  • Gaps in the regulatory system are filled through maximizing the use of existing programs and tools and the development of new mechanisms; and
  • Partnerships are established with northern governments and organizations.

The intermediate outcome of NPMO Initiative is that:

  • Approved projects that are implemented spur significant economic and socio-economic growth in nearby communities.

The ultimate outcome of the NPMO Initiative is the achievement of:

  • Strong, stable territorial economies for the benefit of Northerners and all Canadians.

As indicated in the NPMO Logic Model, the economic and socio-economic outcomes to which NPMO is contributing are also influenced by external factors such as commodity prices, availability of investments, existing infrastructure (e.g. roads, ports, etc.) as well as other economic development and social factors.

1.3 Partners and Stakeholders

The NPMO Initiative was initially created to increase capacity to support the Northern regulatory system in response to the growing number and complexity of major projects in the North, while ensuring that objectives of environmental and regulatory processes are achieved within established timelines.

In addition to CanNor, where the NPMO is located, the regulatory departments and agencies outlined in Annex A are responsible for supporting northern environmental assessment and regulatory permitting regimes. In addition to federal government departments and agencies involved in the regulatory approval process for major projects, the NPMO works with:

  • Northern Environmental Assessment/Review Boards, as well as Land and Water Boards;
  • Indigenous organizations;
  • Indigenous governments;
  • Industry representative organizations;
  • Territorial governments;
  • Municipalities;
  • NGOs; and
  • the public.

1.4 Alignment with Government and Agency Priorities

The NPMO Initiative aligns to government priorities as outlined in the December 4, 2015 Speech from the Throne under the priority of "a clean environment and strong economy", with a specific commitment that "public input will be sought and considered". The Speech from the Throne further articulated that: "Environmental impacts will be understood and minimized. Decisions will be informed by scientific evidence. And Indigenous peoples will be more fully engaged in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects."

The NPMO Initiative is one of four programs under CanNor and represented in the Performance Information Profile as "Efficient and Predictable Environmental Review Process in the North".Footnote 7

1.5 Governance

A Major Projects Deputy Ministers' Committee (DMC) was established to act as the governance body for the implementation of the Cabinet Directive that established the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) and the NPMO, with a mirror committee at the Assistant Deputy Minister level. A previously existing DG Committee was reconstituted at the end of 2018.

Figure 1: Governance Model
Description of Figure 1: Governance Model
  • CanNor President (DM) chairs the Major Projects Deputy MInister's Committee
  • CanNor Vice-President (ADM) chairs the Major Projects ADM Committee
  • NPMO DG chairs the Major Projects DG Committee

The membership of the DMC includes the Deputy Heads of:

  • Natural Resources Canada (Committee Chair);
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
  • Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada;
  • Indigenous Services Canada;
  • Transport Canada;
  • Justice Canada;
  • Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada;
  • Parks Canada;
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency;
  • National Energy Board;
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission;
  • Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; and
  • other members added at the discretion of the Chair.

The major activities of the DMC include:

  • Coordinating the implementation of the Cabinet Directive as well as related Memoranda of Understanding (MoU);
  • Upholding the objective of improving the performance of the regulatory system for major resource projects;
  • Providing coordination and guidance for the resolution of issues related to specific projects in the regulatory system; and
  • Serving as authorizing signatories for each Project Agreement.

1.6 Resources

Financial resources for the program consist of time-limited funding (C-base) 2016-17 to 2019-20 of $9,275,844 (excluding PWGSC charges) over the four-year period, and ongoing funding from CanNor (A-base). Total funding for the three years of the period under evaluation were $11,458,404.

The following table provides a financial breakdown over the prescribed time period.

Table 1: NPMO Funding 2016-17 to 2019-20
  Fiscal Year – Dollars
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 Total
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Time-limited Funding
Vote 1 – Operating Expenditures and Employment Benefit Plans (EBPs)
Personnel 1,615,660 1,615,660 1,615,660 1,615,660 6,462,640
Other operating costs 342,669 342,669 342,669 492,669 1,520,676
EBPs @ 20% 323,132 323,132 323,132 323,132 1,292,528
Total Vote 1 and EBPs 2,281,461 2,281,461 2,281,461 2,431,461 9,275,844
PWGSC accommodation premium @ 13% 210,036 210,036 210,036 210,036 840,144
Total Time-limited funding 2,491,497 2,491,497 2,491,497 2,641,497 10,115,988
Ongoing Funding
Vote 1 – Operating Expenditures and Employment Benefit Plans (EBPs)
Personnel 833,611 833,611 833,611 833,611 3,334,444
Other operating costs 219,269 219,269 219,269 219,269 877,076
EBPs @ 20% 166,722 166,722 166,722 166,722 666,888
Total Vote 1 and EBPs 1,219,602 1,219,602 1,219,602 1,219,602 4,878,408
PWGSC accommodation premium @ 13% 108,369 108,369 108,369 108,369 433,476
Total Existing Funding 1,327,971 1,327,971 1,327,971 1,327,971 5,311,884
Grand Total 3,819,468 3,819,468 3,819,468 3,969,468 15,427,872

2.0 Evaluation Scope, Methodology and Limitations

2.1 Evaluation Scope and Objectives

The purpose of this evaluation is to examine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the NPMO Initiative and assess whether improvements could be achieved going forward by making recommendations as required in alignment with the three evaluation issues.

The evaluation covers all objectives of the NPMO Initiative and core activities of the NPMO outlined in Section 1.1.2 of this report and is focused on the three-year timeframe taking place since the last evaluation of the NPMO, from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

This evaluation was conducted as per the Treasury Board Policy on Results (2016) and focuses specifically on commitments made in the Treasury Board Submission that provided funding for the 2016-17 to 2019-20 period. The evaluation issues explored within the scope of this evaluation are provided below.

Relevance

  1. Continued need for the program.
  2. Alignment with Government of Canada (GoC) priorities.
  3. Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities.

Performance: Effectiveness

  1. Achievement of Expected Outcomes.

Performance: Efficiency

  1. Assessment of resource utilization in relation to the production of outputs and progress toward expected outcomes.

The full evaluation matrix including performance indicatorscan be found in Annex C.

2.2 Evaluation Methodology

The evaluation was conducted in four phases: planning, data collection, analysis and reporting. The planning phase included development of the evaluation plan, which included a work plan and data collection instruments, and the evaluation matrix (see Annex C). The evaluation consisted of three main lines of evidence: key informant interviews, document review and case studies. Data collection was carried out between November 2018 and early January 2019, including field visits to Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife to interview NPMO staff and stakeholders.

For document review, the NPMO office provided the evaluators with a selection of documentation supporting NPMO outputs. The evaluators also reviewed CanNor, NPMO and other government documentation including legislation related to the NPMO mandate for a total of 130 documents. Internet searches were also conducted as related to the case studies with an emphasis on identifying relevant media articles.

Information obtained through the document review was collected in a document review technical report. Findings were developed for each evaluation question where relevant evidence was identified. The scope of the document review for the general evaluation consisted of 55 individual documents.

Case studies were selected based on the following criteria: geographic coverage (i.e., one case study per territory); materiality; maturity of the projects with respect to the latter stages of the EA process; and variation in the types of projects (i.e., infrastructure and mining). The NPMO provided a master list of projects from which the evaluation consultants highlighted case study candidates, with a final selection made in consultation with the Project Authorities.

A total of 75 documents were reviewed for the case studies and 13 interviews were conducted with relevant personnel. Evidence was collated and analyzed, and findings consolidated by evaluation question for each case study. Internal reports were created for each case study.

Table 2: Case Studies
Case Study Project Summaries
Project Summary 1: Casino Project
Proponent Name (Location): Casino Mining Corporation (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Sector: Minerals and Metals: Copper, Gold, Molybdenum, Silver
Project Location: Yukon
Project Location Details: The project is located approximately 300 km northwest of Whitehorse, Yukon and is on Crown land administered by the Yukon Government. It lies within the traditional territories of the Selkirk First Nation, and the road access falls within the traditional territories of both the Selkirk and Little Salmon / Carmacks First Nations. The Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in traditional territory intersects the Project footprint at the Yukon River.
Responsible Review Board: Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB)
Year Project Initially Submitted for Review: 2014
Project Status as of March 2019: The assessment is on hiatus, awaiting submission of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Effects (ESE) submission for the Panel Review by the proponent.
Project Summary 2: Back River Gold Mine Project
Proponent Name (Location): Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Sector: Minerals and Metals: Gold
Project Location: Nunavut
Project Location Details: The Project is located approximately 400 km southwest of the community of Cambridge Bay, 95 km southeast of the southern end of Bathurst Inlet, and 520 km northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Responsible Review Board: Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB)
Year Project Initially Submitted for Review: 2012
Project Status as of March 2019: Approved (December 2017)
Project Summary 3: Tlicho All Season Road (TASR)
Proponent Name (Location): Government of Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
Sector: Infrastructure: Road
Project Location: Northwest Territories
Project Location Details: The proposed road is located from Highway 3, west of Behchokǫ, north to Whatì, about 100 km northwest of Yellowknife.
Responsible Review Board: Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB)
Year Project Initially Submitted for Review: 2016
Project Status as of March 2019: Approved, and being implemented

An initial interview list, categorized by the range of stakeholder groups, was compiled by the NPMO and Project Authority and submitted to the evaluators. For the general evaluation, 32 interviews were conducted, with a further 13 interviews conducted for case studies. An internal technical report was developed that analyzed the interviews by stakeholder group and provided findings by each evaluation question.

Table 3: Interviews Conducted
Interviewee Category Total Breakdown by Type
Target Actual General Case Study
CanNor/NPMO 3-4 6 5 1
Federal Partners 6-10 7 5 2
Indigenous communities/groups 7-8 6 2 4
Project proponents 8-9 10 8 2
Review Boards 3-4 3 3  
Territorial governments 3-5 10 6 4
Industry associations and others 2-3 3 3  
Total 34-43 45 32 13

The analysis phase included developing an evidence matrix that included the findings for each line of evidence, the summary findings for the evaluation, and potential recommendations. The evidence matrix was shared and validated with the Project Authority and NPMO staff. A preliminary findings presentation was also provided to an ad hoc Interdepartmental Evaluation Advisory Group composed of representatives from seven federal departments and agencies with a role in the review of major projects in the North. Upon receiving feedback, the evaluators developed a draft and final evaluation report.

2.3 Limitations and Mitigation Measures

There were certain limitations encountered during the evaluation which should be taken into consideration when reading this report.

Limitation #1
Limitation: According to interviews, high turnover of staff in organizations in the North is common, impacting both NPMO and other stakeholders. In the case of NPMO, two staff members from the Yukon office who had been working there for the entire evaluation period departed as the evaluation started. In Nunavut, only one staff member was present while two others were on extended leave of absence. Turnover also impacted on the conduct of the case studies, especially for the Casino Gold Mine project, which had been on hiatus since 2016 while the proponent compiles its submission for the YESAB Panel Review.
Mitigation: The evaluators took referrals and tried contacting former personnel from the organization but met with limited success. The evaluators were able to interview a former NPMO staff member for one case study. The evaluation approach itself incorporated mitigation measures by identifying a range of stakeholders in each stakeholder category, and by also incorporating sufficient document review to cover the periods when interviewee experience was limited.
Impact on Evaluation: The recollection of events by interviewees was not as consistently precise or detailed as desired, and in some cases, it was second-hand information that can impact on the reliability of the information. As stated, in those cases either internet searches or document review were used to corroborate the evidence. Overall impact is considered low to moderate.
Limitation #2
Limitation: In general, the NPMO has a limited footprint, meaning that interactions with external stakeholders can be sporadic and short-lived as linked to specific milestones in the EA process. Stakeholder understanding of NPMO in terms of its role and how effectively it carries it out can therefore be limited.
Mitigation: A substantial number of selected individuals from the initial interview list declined participation as they had either moved on to a different job or considered themselves unqualified to comment. In those cases, the evaluators sought alternative contacts, with the evaluation contacting 75 individuals in order to reach the 45 interviewees.
Impact on Evaluation: There is minimal impact as efforts were made to reach a broad sampling of interviewees. Consideration of the limited footprint of NPMO been incorporated in both evaluation findings and recommendations in terms of how it engages with stakeholders.

2.3.1 Note to the Reader

It is necessary to highlight the subtle differences in definition that many stakeholders maintain between EA processes (e.g., the environmental, socio-economic and/or impact assessment processes conducted by the review boards in the territories) and regulatory processes that are done after an EA approval (e.g., licenses, permitting which are done by federal departments and the various land and water boards in the territories).

For many stakeholders including industry, the environmental assessment and the licensing and permitting activities are often referred to as the "regulatory phase" or "regulatory system". Other stakeholders, particularly other federal departments and territorial departments distinguish between the EA processes and what they consider to be regulatory activities which is the licensing and permitting of projects. The NPMO outcomes take the broader definition, but throughout the report we have tried to distinguish between the two phases for reasons of clarity.

During this evaluation period, the Community Readiness Initiative (CRI) concluded. This NPMO pilot project was undertaken between 2013-16 and the objective of the CRI was to help Northern communities prepare for and participate in major resource development projects in their region. The pilot project had its own evaluation in 2016 and was not included in the scope of this evaluation.

3.0 Findings on Relevance

This section of the report focuses on the extent to which there is a continued need for NPMO and its core activities and whether NPMO aligns with government priorities, CanNor priorities as well as federal roles and responsibilities more generally.

Summary Findings for Relevance:

  • There is continued need for some of the NPMO functions as currently identified in the NPMO logic model, specifically federal government coordination, advice and issue management and maintaining the Crown consultation record.
  • NPMO is aligned to federal government and CanNor priorities as related to advancing major project development in the North supported by a robust impact assessment process.
  • The role of the NPMO is consistent with the federal role and has been defined in various Memoranda of Understanding with both federal departments and territorial governments.
  • A lack of understanding of the NPMO role, particularly during the post-EA licensing and permitting phase, persists on the part of many stakeholders.
  • There is value-added to services such as coordination of federal activities, advice and issue management and support for Crown consultation.

3.1 Is there a continued need for the NPMO Initiative and its core activities?

Key Findings:

  • There is continued need for some of the NPMO functions as currently identified in the NPMO logic model, specifically federal government coordination, advice and issue management and maintaining the Crown consultation record.
  • There is a lack of understanding of the mandate of NPMO and role for some stakeholders.
  • The need for external facing services (i.e., services offered to stakeholders other than federal entities) and their content will vary across the jurisdictions, with some need for single window access to the federal government and pathfinder services.
  • The need for support on Crown consultations focusses on maintenance of the record and ensuring that the Duty to Consult requirements are met.

There was a general consensus among stakeholders on the continued relevance of the core functions of NPMO, namely federal government coordination, advice and issue management, and maintaining the Crown consultation record.

Industry and territorial stakeholders had a more diverse opinion on the relevance of pathfinder services (e.g., advice and referrals to help navigate the northern regulatory process), with some considering that either the private sector or territorial governments were capable of providing that service. Socio-economic assessments and promoting investment in the North were ranked as the least relevant NPMO activities to stakeholders.

3.1.1 Who are the stakeholders and which of their needs were addressed by the NPMO?

NPMO has defined its stakeholders as the following: federal government departments and agencies, territorial governments, Review Boards, project proponents, industry and Indigenous groups and communities. This range of stakeholders have diverse needs and their service delivery expectations of NPMO are varied.

All interviewees agreed about the importance of effective federal government coordination. However, expectations of what NPMO delivered entailed varied by stakeholder group.

For federal government departments, federal coordination was the primary expectation of NPMO. For Review Boards, their expectation was for NPMO to facilitate consistent and timely federal input into the Review Board process. Project proponents suggested that federal coordination should include advice and issue management functions, such that there is a consistent federal position and information requests are streamlined.

Interviewees for Indigenous groups and northern communities identified participant funding and support for studies as their primary needs. Both are areas that are not included in the NPMO mandate. The opportunities for consultation offered by NPMO, via notifications and consultation letters, were not perceived as an effective means to ensuring meaningful engagement and participation of Indigenous peoples and northern communities.

The specific jurisdiction and type of project can have a direct impact on stakeholder needs. For example, the Tlicho All Season Road (TASR) infrastructure project in the NWT represents one of the evaluation case studies. Given that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) was the decision-making authorityFootnote 8, involvement by the majority of federal stakeholders, including NPMO, was accordingly limited. Proponents worked directly with GNWT or the federal department most involved (ECCC in this case).

By contrast, a mine remediation project on federal lands in that same jurisdiction would require the involvement of a federal decision-making authority and other regulatory federal departments, thereby making the NPMO role more relevant.

Most stakeholders, including from industry, Boards, territorial governments and federal governments were uncertain about what the NPMO 'single window' service would entail. Key NPMO documentation, such the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), CanNor website, and the MoU between Federal Departments and Agencies, does not define these services.

Proponents have indicated an interest in the single window approach, and NPMO has demonstrated the ability to bring a range of stakeholders together for information sharing and consultation, including the use of Resource Development Action Group meetings. Proponent interviewees noted when a single technical issue is encountered, they tend to deal directly with the respective federal regulatory department rather than with NPMO. NPMO offices are located in territorial capitals and it was noted by interviewees that local relationships established with stakeholders helped facilitate direct bilateral discussions.

Interviewees from federal departments, industry, territorial governments and Review Boards identified the need forsupport on Crown Consultation in terms of keeping the record of consultation and ensuring that the Duty to Consult requirements are met through form letters sent by NPMO. Such support was found beneficial by interviewees from the proponents, Review Boards and the federal government departments. The need for a "consultation leadership" role was identified by some interviewees, but it was felt that this would be a difficult role for NPMO to undertake, given its limited involvement in direct consultations and the absence of a formal role for the NPMO to provide advice or guidance on behalf of the federal regulatory authorities.

Stakeholders had diverse opinions on the relevance of pathfinder services, with some considering either the private sector or territorial governments being most capable of providing that service. Socio-economic assessments and promoting investment in the North were the NPMO outputs considered to be the least relevant to stakeholders. While still very necessary activities in the North, interviewees felt that NPMO should consider how it could deliver on these expectations especially given its current understaffed complement, competing priorities that this work introduces, and the inconsistency of service delivery on more critical core services.

3.1.2 Are there any gaps in program design regarding stakeholders or stakeholder needs?

Generating the evidence in support of this question was complicated by a lack of understanding of the NPMO mandate and role for some stakeholders as well as a perceived overlap between the NPMO mandate and the economic development mandate of its parent organization (CanNor). Clarity with respect to the NPMO mandate was found to be further negatively impacted by inconsistencies in service delivery over the evaluation time period and across jurisdictions.

Interviewees identified some program design gaps, but few gaps were mentioned more than once. Potential program gaps included the need for leadership on Crown consultations, representation on reconciliation efforts and expertise on EA issues.

Interviewees also identified program design gaps that fall outside of the current NPMO mandate. These potential program gaps included participant funding for Indigenous groups and communitiesFootnote 9 and policy work on Northern issues, including site remediation and closure, and the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework (ANPF).

3.1.3 Are there new stakeholders or new needs and how are they being addressed?

The legislative and regulatory environments for environmental and socio-economic impact assessments continue to evolve both nationally and within the territories, creating new stakeholder needs on a continuous basis. This is evidenced by devolution in the NWT (officially on 1 April 2014 but with continuing effects) and launch of the first ever Panel Review under YESAA in the Yukon. In addition, Bill C-69 to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act is currently under review via the parliamentary process, undoubtedly giving rise to additional stakeholder needs upon completion.

Stakeholders expressed a need for having authoritative information on the implications of these changes. Proponent interviewees specifically expressed a need for the minimization of uncertainty through updated understanding of these changes and improved knowledge transfer from federal authorities. These interviewees felt that it would be within the NPMO 'single window' mandate to support changes in the environmental assessment frameworks by working with other federal government departments to disseminate common communication materials on regulatory changes that may be forthcoming.

3.2 Is the NPMO program aligned with government priorities and CanNor strategic objectives?

Key Findings:

  • NPMO is aligned to federal government and CanNor priorities as related to advancing major project development in the North supported by a robust impact assessment process

As outlined in the December 4, 2015 Speech from the Throne 2015 and the Ministerial mandate letters, NPMO is aligned to the federal priorities of major resource developmentthat is grounded on robust oversight and environmental assessment processes with decisions based on science, facts and evidence. NPMO is directly aligned to the CanNor priority of "advancing major project development in the territories", and the CanNor core responsibility of "Economic Development in the Territories".

With respect to reconciliation and meaningful participation of Canadians and Indigenous groups, the NPMO is aligned with federal priorities. However, the NPMO's role is limited to monitoring and maintaining the Crown consultation record, developing consultation models, and sending consultation and notification letters to Indigenous organizations and communities to solicit their participation in the EA processes, in fulfillment of Canada's legal commitments as per Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

3.3 Is the NPMO Initiative consistent with existing and proposed federal roles and responsibilities?

Key Findings:

  • The role of the NPMO is consistent with the federal role and has been defined in various Memoranda of Understanding with both federal departments and territorial governments, however, there remains a lack of understanding of the NPMO role on the part of many stakeholders, including during the post-EA licensing and permitting phase.

The policy authority for the NPMO mandate and activities is derived from numerous acts and government priorities and its role is further defined in the MoU entitled "MoU Defining Terms and Scope of cooperation between federal departments, agencies and NPMO for coordination of Northern Project (2012)." The NPMO has further defined its role through the elaboration of individual MoUs with territorial governments.Footnote 10

NPMO activities and outputs are consistent with the federal role as outlined in its foundational program documentation. Those activities are focused on the environmental assessment process for major projects in the North, and include:

  • Coordination and issues management, including single window support, policy and advocacy and horizontal coordination;
  • Crown consultation duties with respect to Indigenous peoples and northern communities;
  • Pan-territorial coordination and issues management; and
  • Provision of technical expertise for socio-economic assessments of major projects.

According to interviews, stakeholders were often not clear on the NPMO mandate despite the MoUs that are in place. All lines of evidence indicated that NPMO is seldom active during the post-EA permitting and licensing phase of the regulatory process despite its stated role. Interviews indicated that this can be a result of there being fewer federal government departments involved in the licensing and permitting phase.

3.4 Does the program bring value-added to the regulatory review process for major projects in the North?

Key Findings:

  • There is value-added to services such as coordination of federal activities, advice and issue management and support for Crown consultation.

Interviewees were asked to rank the theoretical value-added of NPMO core activities along a five-point Likert scale. The services were ranked by interviewees as follows (based on percentage categorizing this the activity as high or very high value-added):

  • Single window coordination of federal activities (79%);
  • Support for Crown consultation (76%);
  • Advice and issues management across stakeholders (76%);
  • Pathfinder services (69%);
  • Promoting investments in the North (62%); and
  • Socio-economic assessments (24%).

The responses received indicated that there is value-added to some of the core activities with respect to coordination of federal activities, advice and issue management and support for Crown consultation, being the primary activities ranked the highest. There was considerable variation of perspectives across stakeholders on different core activities, reflecting the diverse interests of stakeholders. As an example, pathfinder services were ranked relatively high by industry and Review Boards but ranked lower by federal and territorial government departments.

Some stakeholders had difficulties separating theoretical value-added from the reality of service delivery, with many pointing out that the NPMO is not meeting their expectations regarding delivery of core services in some jurisdictions over the period of the evaluation and is not realizing potential value added of enhanced core activities that may require a stronger presence and mandate.

The ongoing staffing profile of NPMO has an undeniable impact on service delivery. During the period of the evaluation project, there was only one person on active duty in the Nunavut office, out of a complement of three, and the Yukon office had undergone a complete staff turnover with both persons leaving within three months of each other. Overall, the NPMO had only seven of 12 positions filled, with two additional individuals on an extended leave of absence.

If the NPMO role is intended to be purely administrative in nature as a secretariat function for federal departments, NPMO offices need to be staffed accordingly. However, at present, the positions are staffed at a fairly senior level (CO-2 and CO-3), which would align with the expectations of a staff that can provide greater value-added services. Increased value-added was described as being able to "stick-handle" through complex issues and working with federal departments to develop a unifying Government of Canada perspective and position.

4.0 Findings on Effectiveness

This section presents findings regarding the NPMO's production of outputs and achievement of short, medium and long-term outcomes as identified in the NPMO logic model (see Annex B).

Summary Findings on Effectiveness:

  • NPMO outputs, such as notification letters, issue tracking and Crown Consultation Adequacy Reports are being produced but there are significant gaps between expectations and delivery and overall effectiveness of delivery was ranked relatively low by stakeholders.
  • The NPMO role in direct consultation with Indigenous peoples and communities is limited, but it does contribute to the adequacy of the Crown consultation in terms of commitments associated with Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • The main challenges to NPMO are internal and involve the capacity and turnover of NPMO staff members.
  • The main area for improvement is in the consistency of core service delivery.

4.1 To what extent has the program produced expected outputs?

Key Findings:

  • NPMO outputs such as notification letters, issue tracking and Crown Consultation Adequacy Reports are being produced but there are significant gaps in what is expected in accordance with NPMO standards, including the NPMO Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Effectiveness of NPMO core activities was generally ranked low by stakeholders, with considerable variance across regions and over time.
  • Single window and coordination of federal activities and crown consultation processes are delivered relatively well, but with regional variances and issues with consistency.

As stated previously in this report, the timing of the evaluation coincided with a substantial low-point in terms of staffing for NPMO. However, according to interviews, difficulty in staffing is a perennial problem with NPMO as it is with most organizations in the North. NPMO has consistently underspent its budget by approximately 30% during this period, largely attributed to less than planned personnel expenditure.

Interviewees were asked to rank the effectiveness of service delivery along a five-point Likert scale. When interviewees were asked to what extent has the program produced expected outputs across the core activities, "Don't Know" was the most frequent answer for four out of six activities: advice and issue management among stakeholders; pathfinder services; promoting investments in the North; and technical expertise on socio-economic assessments.

This result is not necessarily surprising given that NPMO's diverse stakeholders would not necessarily be fully aware of its suite of activities if those activities do not involve the stakeholder directly. In addition, the NPMO conducts little to no work in the socio-economic assessment area.

The effectiveness of NPMO core activities was generally ranked low by interviewees who gave answers other than "Don't Know". The following ranking is based on percentage categorizing delivery and effectiveness as high and very high:

  • Support for Crown consultation (38%),
  • Single window coordination of federal activities (34%),
  • Advice and issue management among stakeholders (31%),
  • Pathfinder services (21%),
  • Promoting investments in the North (7%),
  • Technical expertise on socio-economic assessments (3%).

Interviewees indicated that there is considerable variance in the effectiveness of service delivery across regions, with particular concern for the Nunavut office. Individuals did identify some NPMO activities that have improved. For example, Crown consultation support has new processes and templates that have improved coordination and record keeping, although there are cases where NPMO is not fulfilling this function as well as expected.

Outputs are being produced, including notification and consultation letters, issue tracking, Crown Consultation Adequacy Reports, briefing materials, meeting minutes and workplans. Stakeholders did observe inconsistencies in the production of these outputs over time in some jurisdictions, most notably in Nunavut.

There are also clear gaps in what is expected according to NPMO's own standard operating procedures (SOPs) and what is produced. Examples include:

  • Lack of evidence of socio-economic assessments being produced or the presence of any technical expertise in that area;
  • Lack of evidence of functional databases despite a list of IM/IT platforms;
  • Outdated NPMO Project Tracker website, taken down during this evaluation, but duplicative of more accurate and detailed information available on Review Board websites.
  • Other items not produced but included in the NPMO SOPs, such as Lesson Learned reports on each project, specific profiles on Indigenous groups, territorial land information, and Northern Project Agreements.

The individual case studies reaffirmed these findings. Stakeholders contacted through the case study process have varying views on the usefulness and quality of the outputs, from very low usefulness to some usefulness. In the case of the Back River project, a planned gold mine in the western Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, there is evidence of some outputs being produced but also gaps in what would be expected according to the NPMO SOPs. Stakeholders associated with the Tlicho All Season Road (TASR) project were unaware of NPMO activities and outputs. There is however evidence of outputs being produced during the last seven months of the 28 month project. Outputs included joint letters from NPMO and the GNWT to seek input from Indigenous groups, a consultation issue tracker, the Crown Consultation Adequacy Report, workplans, participation in one meeting and briefing materials.

The Casino Gold Mine project in the Yukon has been on hiatus since 2016, but there is evidence of outputs being produced during the active EA phase, including meeting notes and email correspondence, briefing materials, issue tracking, numerous letters to stakeholders, consultation assessment tools, and a consultation plan.

4.2 To what extent is the NPMO capacity for single-window project management and coordination of federal activities throughout the regulatory life-cycle of major projects contributing to a more effective, comprehensive and transparent regulatory system?

Key Findings:

  • In terms of the regulatory life-cycle of major projects, NPMO's involvement is limited to the EA phase and is rarely involved in the licensing and permitting phase.
  • NPMO has no influence on the comprehensiveness or transparency of the regulatory system, given that the Northern regulatory systems are founded and defined in land claims agreements and legislations that are outside of NPMO control.
  • There is some contribution to the effectiveness of the EA system in the regions, mostly by supporting federal government coordination.

According to all lines of evidence, NPMO's involvement in the regulatory life-cycle of major projects is largely limited to the EA phase with rare contributions to the licensing and permitting phase. As a result, the phrasing of this outcome (NPMO capacity for single-window project management and coordination of federal activities throughout the regulatory life-cycle of major projects contributes to a more effective, comprehensive and transparent regulatory system) is misleading and can be improved.

Regarding the EA phase, the system is designed and driven by the legislationFootnote 11 and processes of the duly established Review Boards. The federal Ministers responsible for the legislation are either the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations or the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the case of the CEAA. It is therefore unlikely the NPMO, under CanNor and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), could directly impact the legislation of another federal Minister when it comes to the EA processes. NPMO would have no role whatsoever in influencing the licensing and permitting system as this is the purview of the regulatory authority.

NPMO does however interact and engage with that system. Despite the noted inconsistencies in delivery over time and across jurisdictions, the work of NPMO in the area of federal government coordination can improve the effectiveness with which the federal government engages with the EA system. Structured communication improves the coordination across departments that avoids contradictory positions on issues and duplicative or unnecessary information requests.

The issue of timely response to EA timelines can be a sensitive issue. NPMO has no authority over other departments to ensure timeliness of their submissions. Interviews indicated that there is often push-back from departments in response to attempts by the NPMO to reinforce timelines. NPMO occupies a complex position, as departments have to follow their own approval processes and lines of authority and are committed to meeting timelines as best as they can without outside pressure. A clearer understanding of the time requirements for processes undertaken by each department would assist in setting expectations, but other government departments should understand they will be held accountable to their commitments.

Despite these issues, some interviewees commented that since the start of NPMO, the number of time extensions requested by federal departments to the various Review Boards has decreased. Many factors may be attributable for the decrease including the coordination role performed by NPMO which makes the process more effective. However, some industry interviewees highlighted their frustration with the federal government in establishing an EA system with timelines that federal authorities are unable to meet. Such delays are also not welcomed by the territorial governments or Review Boards.

The case studies further support the perspectives generated by the other lines of evidence. Interviewees contacted as part of the Back River Case Study held mixed views on whether the single window approach had been realized. One interviewee stated that NPMO did seek input from groups during the second round of consultationsFootnote 12 and that this process was helpful. Another interviewee stated that for a single window approach to work, it requires the support of all federal departments which NPMO does not have.

One area where NPMO has played a substantial role is in facilitating the establishment of the Pan-Territorial Assessment and Regulatory Board Forum. The first forum was held in January 2016 and three more meetings have been held since the inaugural session, with the most recent meeting taking place in September 2018. The purpose of the Forum is to bring together representatives from each of the EA and regulatory boards in the North to share best practices and to discuss opportunities for collaboration. Topics vary each year but may cover issues such as consultation, linkages between the assessment and regulatory phases, and incorporating traditional knowledge. As such, the Forum can have an impact on the comprehensiveness of the assessment and regulatory phases. It is recognized that NPMO did help initiate and facilitate the meetings.

4.3 To what extent is the NPMO capacity to support Crown Consultation contributing to meaningful engagement and participation of Indigenous peoples and northern communities?

Key Findings:

  • The NPMO role in direct consultation with Indigenous peoples and communities is limited, but it does contribute to the adequacy of the Crown consultation in terms of Section 35 commitments.

The regulatory system for major projects has been established such that consultation activities are predominately undertaken by the proponents and the Review Boards during the EA phase and by Licensing Boards during the licensing and permitting phase. The NPMO approach is consistent with the federal guidelines on Duty to ConsultFootnote 13 and NPMO's own consultation modelsFootnote 14, and the NPMO proceduresFootnote 15 which state that the NPMO relies on the regulatory review process to generate the bulk of the Crown consultation record. The consultation process is further augmented by additional specific efforts including any correspondence or meetings with specific federal departments. A large part of the record is comprised of industry engagement with the communities and any commitments made by project proponents.

In conjunction with other groups, NPMO contributed to the development of consultation models and associated training of federal staff. According to interviews, these models have been adopted to some extent by some territorial governments in their own consultation processes. There is evidence of NPMO activity and outputs for engagement, including the Crown consultation record, tracking of issues, engaging in direct consultation through letters, and assessing the adequacy of the consultation in terms of Section 35 commitments. There have been some issues, however, with the quality and consistency of the outputs, both across and within the three territories.

Given its limited role, NPMO is not in the position to contribute directly to meaningful engagement and participation. The NPMO role is strictly to ensure adequacy of the consultation in terms of Section 35 requirements. There were suggestions from some interviewees that early engagement is preferred. Given NPMO's limited role, it is also not possible for NPMO to unilaterally undertake such early engagement. The RDAGs address that need to some extent, but early engagement requires the participation of all federal departments involved in the EA process, and other interviewees voiced a reluctance to engage in consultation processes outside of a formal EA process.

4.4 To what extent have Indigenous knowledge and perspectives informed decisions for major projects?

Key Findings:

  • Indigenous knowledge and perspectives influence decisions on major projects, but the attribution of that to NPMO activities is limited.

Given that the amount of direct consultation done by NPMO is limited, NPMO's contribution to the stated outcome is equally limited. During interviews, very few instances were documented where NPMO engagement letters generated a response from an Indigenous group.

To put the consultation process in context, the proponent of the Back River project claimed to have undertaken over 250 consultation activities, including week-long consultations at the community level. The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) conducted two Panel Reviews, each of several days. By contrast, NPMO had sent out a total of 12 engagement letters. As stated in the previous section, this is not a criticism of NPMO, rather it is aligned with its role and mandate. It should also be noted that the position of Crown Consultation Coordinator in NPMO has been vacant as of March 2018.

Overall, Indigenous knowledge and perspectives influence decisions on major projects. The overall purpose of consultation is to inform decisions on projects and there is evidence to support that it does. As an example, the project certificate (i.e., the authorization for the project to proceed after the completion of the environmental impact review) issued by the Nunavut Impact Review Board for the Back River Project has 92 terms and conditionsFootnote 16 attached to it, many of them raised by the Indigenous communities affected.

4.5 To what extent are partnerships established and nurtured with northern governments and organizations?

Key Findings:

  • Decisions taken by the NPMO has invalidated the establishment of formal partnerships (i.e., through signed agreements) as a relevant outcome.
  • Considerable variation exists regarding effectiveness of the NPMO in the nurturing of partnerships, with some interviewees highlighting very limited interactions and relationships and others being supportive of the NPMO role in this area.

While the NPMO was involved in establishing a number of formal agreements until 2015, there were no new formal partnerships established during the evaluation period, from April 2016 to March 2019.

The pre-existing agreements are:

Historically, NPMO also developed Northern Project Agreements, which were project-specific agreements with other federal departments on the roles and responsibilities for the environmental assessment and regulatory phases of the project. Only three such agreements were completed.

In 2016, NPMO made the decision to halt the development and implementation of project specific agreements because their value-added was limited in comparison to the time required to finalize them and also because the relationships among northern regulatory federal partners are already defined in the 'Memorandum of Understanding defining Terms and Scope of Cooperation between Departments, Agencies and the Northern Projects Management Office for Coordination of Major Projects'.

Regarding the nurturing of relationships, most relationships with NPMO are generally viewed as positive. The relationships vary, with a more limited and as-required interaction with Review Boards and Territorial Governments. There can be tensions in relations with other federal departments, but these relationships are generally viewed positively. According to interviews, tensions can arise around process and timelines. Some interviewees viewed that turnover of NPMO staff is detrimental to the relationships that are established.

Evidence from the case studies varies, with some proponents stating there was a limited relationship with NPMO during the EA process and others reinforcing the need for the NPMO. Common to the case studies, however, was the fact that Indigenous groups and communities stated they had no relationship with NPMO.

4.6 To what extent is the NPMO capacity in the area of socio-economic assessments contributing to a better understanding of the socio-economic impacts of major projects?

Key Findings:

  • NPMO has no capacity in the area of socio-economic assessments.

The NPMO's position related to socio-economic assessment has been vacant for some time, and there was no evidence of any activities related to socio-economic assessments.

At one point there was an unsuccessful attempt to draw on a range of sources and data and consolidate that in a database for socio-economic information on northern communities, but no evidence of that work was available for review. In any event, development of the database does not necessarily translate into conducting socio-economic assessments or contribute to a better understanding of the impacts of major projects.

4.7 To what extent are gaps in regulatory system filled (by program, tools, mechanisms) by NPMO?

Key Findings:

  • No results in this area.

NPMO rarely engages in the licensing and permitting processes and therefore does not contribute to the regulatory system in that regard. With respect to the EA process, there was no gaps in the system filled by NPMO during this evaluation period.

4.8 To what extent are approved projects implemented?

Key Findings:

  • There is no attribution of project implementation to NPMO.

There is no attribution of approval of projects to NPMO, so there can be no attribution of implementation of projects to NPMO. Implementation of approved projects is primarily dependent upon the financing and economics of the project. The licensing can take time, but it is a process that can be navigated by industry. Of the three case study projects reviewed by the evaluation, two were approved, with one progressing through the licensing and permitting process and the other in implementation as of March 2019.

According to NPMO, there were a total of 14 projects that initiated or ended their assessment process over the course of the evaluation period (i.e., from 2016 to 2019). Of those, nine completed their assessment processes during this period, with two moving to licensing and permitting, and one initiating implementation.

However, as noted by one interviewee, by the time a company has reached the end of an EA process, there has already been investment and spin-off economic benefits. One industry representative had estimated that they had invested approximately $40 million in the EA process alone. That investment does not include the infrastructure already developed for the base camp operations and other investments.

4.9 To what extent do approved projects spur economic growth and socio-economic growth in nearby communities?

Key Findings:

  • No evidence was available for review.

The existing performance indicators included in the NPMO performance measurement framework were deemed unviable for data collection.Footnote 17 Furthermore, as previously reported, the NPMO does not undertake socio-economic assessments and, therefore, no evidence was available for review. No other studies on the socio-economic benefits of communities located by major projects were referred to the evaluation by stakeholders. While natural resource projects contribute to the GDP of each territory, the amount contributed by individual major projects is not clear and varies from territory to territory. In 2017, the territories reported for mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction as a percentage of territorial GDP as 13% for Yukon, 36% for NWT and 16% for Nunavut.Footnote 18

Interviewees were able to provide anecdotal evidence for economic benefit to nearby communities, mostly from jobs and supply contracts. There is contention however with some interviewees who pointed to experiences where the socio-economic benefit is hard to define. Some reasons identified by interviewees that raise questions on socio-economic growth include the fact that sometimes labour is imported which itself can cause other issues including increases in the cost of living and housing; the level of employment positions that are available to local labour; social issues that may arise from increased income in communities; law and order and public safety issues; and the lack of tangible projects that have occurred in local communities as a result of benefit or cooperation agreements between Indigenous groups and industry.

4.10 What are the chief internal and external factors influencing achievement of the NPMO's objectives?

Key Findings:

  • The main challenges to NPMO are internal and involve the expertise, capacity and turnover of NPMO staff members.

Internally, the expertise, capacity and turnover of NPMO staff members is considered a limiting factor to achievement of NPMO objectives. The recent period has seen a particularly high level of turnover. Staffing in the North has commonly been identified by interviewees as a challenge.

Externally, a range of factors were identified by interviewees as influencing outcomes, with changes in the legislative and regulatory framework, either nationally or regionally, considered to have the most impact on NPMO. Other issues can create more complexity in the working environment, such as unsettled land claims, new approaches such as phased developments of major projects, declining caribou herds and transboundary issues.Footnote 19 However, the most critical challenges to the effectiveness of the NPMO are internal.

4.11 What are the key lessons learned (best practices and areas for improvement) in the design and delivery of the NPMO?

Key Findings:

  • Identified best practices include ongoing consultation models and tools.
  • Areas for improvement include improving the consistency in service delivery and a better articulation of the NPMO role and services.

In terms of best practices, the evaluation considered certain practices to be evergreen, meaning they are constantly in a state of review and revision for improvement. As such they can be considered to qualify under best practices and included:

  • Work Plans for the Project Specific Working Groups (jointly developed with federal departments on review processes); and
  • Consultation models including the consultation letters,Footnote 20 and other supporting tools such as the Issues Tracking Table and Crown Consultation Assessment Report.

Areas for improvement have been identified throughout this report, but when specifically asked this question interviewees commented most often on the need for improved consistency in services and a better and clearer articulation of NPMO role and services.

5.0 Findings on Cost Effectiveness and Efficiency

This section of the report focuses on efficiency, cost effectiveness and the design of the NPMO, its governance structure, and how it uses performance information.

Summary Findings on Cost Effectiveness and Efficiency:

  • To date the most tangible benefit associated with the NPMO has been an absence of judicial review of project decisions in the last ten years, which can partially be attributable to NPMO and fulfillment of Duty to Consult commitments.
  • The organizational design of the NPMO has an influence on its operations and there may be alternatives that would be beneficial in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
  • The NPMO has consistently underspent by approximately 30% of budget, attributable to under-expenditure on personnel.
  • Governance structures are in place. The DG Committee for Major Projects was reconstituted at the end of 2018.
  • The NPMO performance measurement framework is not well aligned to its activities and does not provide useful information for decision-making.

5.1 To what extent is the design of the NPMO Initiative appropriate for achieving its expected outputs and outcomes?

Key Findings:

  • The most tangible benefit to date has been an absence of judicial review of project decisions in the last ten years, which can partially be attributable to NPMO and fulfillment of Duty to Consult commitments.
  • The organizational design of the NPMO has an influence on its operations and there may be alternatives that would be beneficial in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
  • The NPMO has consistently underspent by approximately 30% of budget, attributable to under-expenditure on personnel.

This question was further broken down into three sub-questions for which the findings are outlined below.

5.1.1 Are the benefits of the NPMO off-setting its costs?

The most tangible benefit to date has been an absence of judicial review of project decisions in the last ten years. This has been attributed in part to NPMO's support to the consultation processes put in place to meet Duty to Consult obligations. There are other important factors that have also contributed to the lack of judicial reviews. One important factor includes the EA system itself, as Indigenous groups are a key component of that co-management system which they have created through their own land claims agreements, making them a part of the decision-making body.

In addition, most stakeholders suggest that the single-window approach, the coordination of federal departments, issue management and the support to Crown consultations are beneficial, if those services are properly resourced and delivered.

5.1.2 Are the core activities of NPMO operating efficiently or are there alternative approaches that would be more efficient or economical at achieving the expected outcomes?

The organizational design of the NPMO has an influence on its operations and there may be alternatives that would be beneficial in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

There were no cost saving measures identified by interviewees. Feedback was generally confined to organization structure and staffing of the NPMO offices. The volume of work varies and fluctuates in each region depending on the pipeline of new major projects (i.e., new major projects that are anticipated), requiring some flexibility in how NPMO allocates personnel across its offices.

Respondents also observed that NPMO is a relatively flat organization. Currently, it is headed by a Director-General (EX-02) with three direct reports at Manager level (CO-3). The NPMO is also structured around three distinct offices, with the headquarters in Yellowknife and two satellite offices in Iqaluit and Whitehorse respectively. The evaluation did not assess the motivations for the original organizational design, but the current ramifications of the design are four-fold.

First, when it comes to inter-departmental relations, issue management within NPMO goes directly from manager to executive, whereas that would not occur in a federal department. Therefore, when an issue is raised by the NPMO DG with another department, it is at a peer level, and there may be perception of improper escalation of issues.

Secondly, with managers directly reporting to the executive, the executive cannot help but get involved in management issues at the expense of other more strategic areas that is more appropriate to the role.

Thirdly, there is a natural tendency to have the most staff at HQ office, but the current project distribution has seven projects taking place in Nunavut, four in Northwest Territories, and three in the Yukon. This workflow is not matched with the organizational distribution, with Yellowknife home to seven of the 12 positions.Footnote 21 A direct correlation between staffing and projects is not being suggested, but some re-balancing may be required as workflows ebb and flow.

Finally, the existing organizational design is an obstacle for career planning within NPMO as there is no clear path to advancement beyond the manager level.

5.1.3 What is the difference between planned and actual spending?

The NPMO has underspent over the three years of this evaluation period, spending approximately 70% of budget. This result is not surprising given the chronic issue of staffing positions, as correlated by the major under-expenditure on personnel. Please note that in the following table expenditures reported for 2018-19 are only for 9 months (until December 2018).Footnote 22 The projected expenditure is similar with previous years which would equate to an overall expenditure over three years of approximately 70%.

Table 4: NPMO actual versus planned expenditure
Time Limited and Ongoing Funding 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
(For first 9 months)
Totals  
Personnel $2,449,271 $2,449,271 $1,836,953 $6,735,495  
Other Operating Costs $561,938 $561,938 $421,454 $1,545,330  
EBP @20% $489,854 $489,854 $367,391 $1,347,099  
PWGSC accommodation $318,405 $318,405 $238,804 $875,614  
Total $3,819,468 $3,819,468 $2,864,601 $10,503,537  
Expenditure 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
(For first 9 months)
Totals Variance
Personnel $1,715,870 $1,588,147 $1,112,988 $4,417,005 66%
Other Operating Costs $522,317 $570,756 $551,028 $1,644,101 106%
EBP @20% $343,174 $317,629 $222,598 $883,401 66%
PWGSC accommodation $223,063 $206,459 $144,688 $574,210 66%
Total $2,804,424 $2,682 991 $2,031,302 $7,518 717 72%
Variance 73% 70% 71% 72%  

5.2 Is the NPMO governance structure clear and are other federal partners actively engaged?

Key Findings:

  • There are governance structures in place. The DG Committee for Major Projects was reconstituted at the end of 2018.

For issues impacting major projects, the governance structure for the NPMO remains the Major Projects Deputy Minister (DM) Committee which was first established with the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO). It is therefore a shared governance structure.

The effectiveness of that committee in providing oversight and support to NPMO issues is uncertain. Interviews with stakeholders indicated that certain major projects in the MPMO portfolio are dominating the attention of the Committee, with the NPMO portfolio left to the end of the committee meetings with whatever time is remaining. There is also a lack of understanding on the Committee of the northern regulatory regime as most of the departments are more familiar with the CEAA which applies to all major projects in the provinces (and only the Inuvialuit settlement region in the Yukon and Northwest Territories in the North).

In the initial design of the MPMO there was also an ADM and DG Committee for Major Projects. No record of those groups meeting was shared with the evaluators for this evaluation period, but it was reported that the DG Committee was reinstated at the end of 2018.

5.3 How was NPMO performance information used in decision-making?

Key Findings:

  • The NPMO performance measurement framework is not well aligned to its activities and does not provide useful information for decision-making.

There is some tracking of activities and the progress of major projects through the EA processes on a monthly basis, but it falls short of using performance information for decision-making. The NPMO provides a summary of the projects in process and in the pipeline (i.e., anticipated) to the DM Committee on a regular basis, but there was no evidence of decisions being sought from the Committee on any issue.

More fundamentally, the NPMO logic model and resulting performance measurement framework is not well-aligned to its role and functions. As has been highlighted in this report, socio-economic assessments are an area where activities and outcomes are identified but for which the NPMO has conducted no activities to date. Similarly, some of the other outcomes are not aligned to NPMO activities so performance information can be of little value even if it was collected, which it is not.

6.0 Conclusions and Recommendations

6.1 Conclusions

Conclusions derived from analysis of the available data for all three lines of evidence have been developed and are presented by evaluation area.

Relevance
The NPMO delivers relevant and important services for the Government of Canada including federal government coordination, maintaining and monitoring the adequacy of the Crown consultation record, and providing support for issue management.

Other external services (i.e., services intended for stakeholders outside of the Government of Canada) such as single-window access to the federal government and pathfinder services may be relevant and have value, but their importance varies across stakeholders and across the three involved jurisdictions. The "single window" aspect of NPMO services currently requires better definition. While often implied as an external service that incorporates pathfinding, issue and advice management, and potentially other services, there is a lack of clarity regarding what the single window actually provides. NPMO activities in the post-EA, licensing and permitting phase is an area worth further exploration regarding possible value added of NPMO involvement, even if on a case-by-case basis.

Additional services that NPMO offers are considered lower priority by stakeholders, namely promoting investment in the North and socio-economic assessments. While still necessary activities in the North, NPMO should consider deprioritizing the delivery of these services given its current understaffed complement, competing priorities that this work introduces, and the inconsistency of service delivery on more critical core services.

Assessment of the relevance of the mandate, role and services of NPMO was often blurred by a lack of understanding on the part of stakeholders. A more in-depth analysis of NPMO stakeholders, including Indigenous groups and communities, and their associated needs and expectations is warranted to better define and clarify the NPMO service offering to those groups. Redefinition and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of NPMO is an activity that requires continuous engagement with partners and stakeholders due to persistent and ongoing changes in the operating context, including staffing changes, the introduction of new stakeholder organizations and individuals, and fundamental transformation of the overarching working environment including devolution of land and resource management responsibilities in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories as well as the negotiations toward devolution in Nunavut.

Effectiveness
As the NPMO moves forward, it will be important to ensure the quality and consistency of service delivery to its Government of Canada partners. Equally, when offering services to external clients, the needs of those stakeholders must be understood and addressed within their individual contexts. Based on a co-management model, the territorial regulatory regimes are different, as are the territorial government structures, Review Boards and industry sectors. As such, a "one-size-fits-all" offering is not feasible, and some degree of customization is required.

NPMO is in the complex position of having no regulatory role while being held responsible for coordinating federal regulatory departments without formal authority over those departments. This model can only work under certain conditions. One condition is undoubtedly the proper functioning of the NPMO and consistency in service delivery. The other necessary condition is an updated formalization of the relationships between NPMO and other federal departments and agencies (e.g. through a MoU) and the goodwill of the federal regulatory departments involved in the process. Most interviewees commented that such goodwill has, in many cases, been absent. Managing these challenging relationships with the other departments to engender better support is a role envisaged for the NPMO Director General, a position that has been filled on an interim basis for a large part of this evaluation period.Footnote 23

The assessment of NPMO's performance has been hampered by a logic model and performance measurement framework that are largely unaligned to the actual roles and activities of the NPMO, with outcomes that are set at too high a level for attribution. A more appropriately aligned performance framework would provide better decision-making information and assist the organization on focusing on its core functions.

As noted in the report, maintaining adequate human resources within the NPMO has been a challenge and is the main factor contributing to its performance. While staffing in the North is a challenge, there is an opportunity for CanNor, as Canada's economic development agency for the region, to show leadership on alternative human resource strategies for ensuring the right capacity is in place as needed.

Efficiency
Effective governance is a critical success factor for the NPMO as it is in a position of having responsibility for federal government coordination but is not a regulatory body and does not have authority over the other departments or the process itself. When issues arise, there needs to be fair and transparent means to seek solutions. The current reconstitution of the DG Committee for Major Projects is a step in the right direction, but its effectiveness will need to be monitored and assessed.

The NPMO organizational design should have adequate flexibility to be able to respond to the ebbs and flows of resource development projects in the North. It should also maintain adequate management and performance monitoring of its staff and satellite offices. The NPMO would benefit from an organizational review to identify potential areas for improving efficiency or effectiveness and to allow for flexibility in its staffing of the HQ and satellite offices, as well as reconfiguration of management structures.

6.2 Recommendations

Following assessment and analysis of the evidence, the evaluation has produced four recommendations across three thematic areas.

Recommendation Actions to be Taken in Support of Recommendation
1. Refocus on the Core
Recommendation #1:
In the short to medium-term, the NPMO should focus on strengthening delivery of the core services of federal government coordination, maintenance and monitoring of the adequacy of the Crown consultation record, and issue management.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Develop and conduct of a strategic planning process to better define the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the NPMO along with the core service offerings for both the EA and subsequent licensing and permitting phase;
  • As part of that process, conduct a detailed stakeholder analysis for the three territories, including Indigenous groups and communities, as stakeholders needs vary across jurisdictions;
  • Re-assess service offerings to external stakeholders in terms of single-window access to the federal regulatory bodies and pathfinder services;
  • Leverage the strategic planning process as an opportunity for NPMO to re-engage with its stakeholders and provide clarity on its own roles and responsibilities, including review and revision of the existing MoUs for the federal government departments as required. A determination of whether a version of Northern Project Agreements should be reintroduced as a means for continuous agreement on governance can be made at this time, especially given the high turnover of staff in the North in all departments; and
  • Development of a program charter document (e.g., MoU, Results-Based Accountability Framework, etc.) that would anchor its core mandate, followed by the active and continuous socialization of the charter with stakeholders to promote awareness and clarity of its role and activities.
Recommendation #2
NPMO should revise its logic model and corresponding performance measurement framework based on the results of the refocusing exercise conducted as part of Recommendation 1.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Testing all identified performance indicators to ensure that they are valid, that supporting data exists, that they are timely and cost-effective to collect, and that they are relevant for decision making.
2. Fit for Purpose
Recommendation #3
The NPMO should reassess its organizational design (positions and structure) to permit flexibility to respond to ebbs and flows of resource development projects in the North and maintain adequate management and performance monitoring of its staff and satellite offices.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Addition of a dedicated HR position to assist CanNor in the staffing of NPMO positions;
  • Implementation of a tiered management structure to ensure adequate management of the satellite offices while permitting the DG to focus on strategic issues and stakeholder relations instead of day-to-day management operations; and
  • Assessment of alternative HR strategies in consultation with CanNor. It is beyond the purview of this evaluation to formally assess such alternatives, but areas that could be explored include:
    • Creation of a roster of subject matter experts that can take on short-term (less than 3 month) assignments in the North;
    • Training of staff to be conversant in the regulatory regime of more than one territory and to monitor projects in the second territory;
    • Maintenance of flexible locations in the contracting of personnel; and
    • Active recruitment for 120% of positions.
3. Improve the Tools
Recommendation #4
NPMO should review specific aspects of its operations that require additional attention, including review of the NPMO website, information systems and Standard Operating Procedures.
In implementing this recommendation, consideration should be given to:
  • Redefinition of the purpose and associated re-design of the NPMO website;
  • Definition of the information needs of stakeholders as part of the stakeholder analysis activity undertaken under as part of the refocusing exercise (Recommendation 1);
  • Definition of the information management needs of NPMO and development of appropriate IT solutions, which at a minimum should include an enterprise client-relationship management (CRM) platform and shared document platform across all three offices; and
  • Revision of the NPMO Standard Operating Procedures in accordance with the updated identification of information needs and changes made to the IT infrastructure.

Annex A: Federal Decision Bodies and Legislations

Decision Body / Legislation Regulations Description
Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC)
Crown Conduct and Duty to Consult   Canada has adopted a whole-of-government approach to consultation and accommodation that emphasizes coordination and collaboration and strengthening partnerships. Government of Canada departments and agencies are responsible for understanding how and when their activities (Crown Conduct) could have an adverse impact on Aboriginal and treaty rights. CIRNAC supports this whole-of-government approach.

CIRNAC is the subject matter expert on northern Indigenous issues and on Indigenous consultation. It has advisory responsibilities within its area of expertise, consistent with the Government of Canada's whole-of-government approach to Indigenous consultation.
Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA)   The Minister of CIRNAC continues to be the decision maker on resource development and infrastructure projects in Nunavut through the NuPPAA.

After devolution of land and resource management responsibilities in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, authority for the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (YESSA) and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) has been delegated to the respective territorial governments.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
Explosive Act Explosives Regulations Licence for the manufacturing and storage of explosives.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Fisheries Act Fisheries Protection Program The Minister's Authorization is required to conduct a work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish or fish habitat that are part of, or support, commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fisheries.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
International Rivers Improvement Act International Rivers Improvement Regulations The Act ensures that Canada's water resources in international river basins are developed and used in the most appropriate national interest.
Species at Risk Act (SARA)   The purposes of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are to prevent wildlife species in Canada from disappearing, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated (no longer exist in the wild in Canada), endangered, or threatened as a result of human activity, and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
Migratory Birds Convention Act
  • Migratory Birds Regulations
  • Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations
The provisions of the Migratory Birds Convention Act protect migratory birds, their eggs, and their nests from hunting, trafficking and commercialization anywhere found in Canada including ocean waters. The Act also prohibits the dumping of substances harmful to birds in waters or areas frequented by them.
Fisheries Act Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) Implements the pollution prevention provision of section 36 (3) of the Fisheries Act.
To minimize the effects of mine effluent on waters frequented by fish and manage the development of Tailings Impoundment Areas (TIAS). An authorization amending the regulations to add the water body to Schedule 2 of the MMER is required to designate the water body as a TIA.
Transport Canada (TC)
Navigation Protection Act (NPA)   A primary purpose of the NPA is to regulate works and obstructions that risk interfering with navigation in the navigable waters listed on the schedule to the Act. The NPA prohibits the depositing of materials that impact navigation and the dewatering of navigable waters.
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (TDGA) Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations The TDGA and Regulations promotes and regulates for public safety when dangerous goods are being handled, offered for transport or transported by road, rail, air, or water.
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act   The primary purpose of this act is to prevent pollution of areas of the artic waters adjacent to the mainland and islands of the Canadian arctic.
Parks Canada
Parks Canada Agency Act
  • Canada National Parks Act
  • Canada National Marine Conservation Act
  • Historic Sites and Monuments Act
  • Species at Risk Act
This Act establishes the Agency for the purpose of ensuring that Canada's national parks, national historic sites and related heritage areas are protected and presented for current and future generations.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)   CEAA is the legal basis for the federal environmental assessment process. The Act sets out the responsibilities and procedures for carrying out the environmental assessments of projects which involve federal government decision making.

CEAA does not apply in the North except in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) and parts of northern Yukon.
National Energy Board (NEB)
  • National Energy Board Act
  • Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act (COGOA)Footnote 24
Various associated regulations. The National Energy Board (NEB) promotes safety and security, environmental protection and efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest, within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Nuclear Safety and Control Act   The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is an independent federal government agency that regulates the use of nuclear energy and material.

This Act provides the CNSC with the authority to regulate the development, production and use of nuclear energy and the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information in Canada.
Justice Canada
    Justice Canada does not have a regulatory role in major projects, but it provides advice to federal departments and agencies, including CanNor.

Annex B: Program Logic Model

Description of Annex B: Program Logic Model
Inputs
CanNor human resources, proponent capacity, other federal departments capacity, management and administrative support, facilities and infrastructure, research and data
Activity
Supporting robust and thorough EA processes through coordination and issues management of major projects in the North Support for crown consultation duties, early engagement and meaningful participation of Indigenous groups and northern communities Technical expert capacity to deliver evidence-based assessments
Outputs
  • Single window project management
  • Horizontal coordination
  • Policy and advocacy (e.g. investment attraction and infrastructure construction)
  • RDAGs, PSWG, TPC, MOUs
  • Pathfinder services
  • Crown consultation coordination and record
  • Other engagement activities with Indigenous and northern communities
  • CRI pilot initiative
  • RDAG models
  • Support of socio-economic assessments
  • Analysis of technical reports
  • Regulatory coordination databases and tools
Immediate Outcomes
  • Movement of major projects through the regulatory system is effective, comprehensive and transparent
  • Indigenous knowledge and perspectives inform decisions for major projects
  • Partnerships are established and nurtured with northern governments and organizations
  • Gaps in the regulatory system filled through maximizing the use of existing programs and tools and the development of new mechanisms
Intermediate Outcomes
Approved projects that are implemented spur significant economic and socio-economic growth in nearby communities
Ultimate Outcome
Strong, stable territorial economies for the benefit of Northerners and all Canadians
External factors influencing NPMO outcomes: commodity prices, other economic development factors, and other social factors.

Notes on the logic model:

CRI Community Readiness Initiative
EA Environmental Assessment
MOU Memorandum of Understanding

PSWG Project Specific Working Groups
RDAG Resource Development Advisory Groups
TPC Territorial Project Committee

Annex C: Evaluation Matrix

Evaluation Question Evaluation Sub-Question Indicator Lines of Evidence Data Sources
Relevance
Evaluation Issue 1: Continued Need for Program
R1. Is there a continued need for the NPMO? R1.1. Who are the stakeholders and what needs of theirs were addressed by the NPMO?

R1.2 Any gaps in program design regarding stakeholders or stakeholder needs?
R.1.1.a) Identification of stakeholder needs addressed by NPMO

R1.2.a) Identification of gaps in the program design and stakeholders or stakeholder needs
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
R1.3 Are there new stakeholders or new needs and how are they being addressed? R1.3.a) Identification of new stakeholder needs that have arisen between 2014 and now

R1.3.b) Identification of new stakeholders and their needs.

R1.3.c) Identification of changes to the program to address needs.
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
Evaluation Issue 2: Alignment with Government Priorities
R2. Is the NPMO program aligned with government priorities and CanNor strategic objectives? R2.1 To what federal government priorities is the NPMO linked? R2.1.a) Consistency of NPMO activities, outputs and outcomes with federal priorities.
  • Document review
  • Policy and program documents (Speeches from the Throne, Ministerial speeches, Government of Canada press releases and backgrounders)
  • Interviews
  • NPMO, federal partners, regulatory boards
R2.2 To what CanNor strategic outcomes and priorities is the program linked R2.2.a) Consistency of NPMO activities outputs and outcomes with CanNor.
  • Document review
  • Policy and program documents (PIP, Departmental Results Report, Report on Plans and Priorities)
  • Interviews
  • NPMO
Evaluation Issue 3: Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities
R3 Is the NPMO Initiative consistent with existing and proposed federal roles and responsibilities? R3.1 To what extent is the NPMO Initiative consistent with existing and proposed federal roles and responsibilities? R3.1.a) Consistency of NPMO component activities, outputs and outcomes with legislation; with the federal role.

R3.1.b) Evidence of legal authority that supports the role
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, GoC documents:
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners,
R4. Does the program bring value-added to the regulatory review process for major projects in the North? R4.1 What is the value added of the NPMO to the regulatory review process? R4.1.a) Identification of value-added of NPMO services
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, GoC documents:
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
Performance – Effectiveness
Evaluation Issue 4: Achievement of Expected Outcomes
PE1. To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of the NPMO Initiative? PE1.1. To what extent has the program produced expected outputs (e.g. number of Resource Development Advisory Groups meetings organized, number of companies provided Pathfinder services, number of Crown consultations coordinated)? PE1.1.a) Comparison of actual outputs with expected outputs:
  1. Single window
  2. Meetings (RDAGs, PSWG, TPC)Footnote 25
  3. Number of new MoUs, types
  4. Number of companies provided with Pathfinder Services
  5. Crown consultations and record
  6. Other consultations with Indigenous and northern communities and organizations
  7. CRI pilots
  8. RDAG models
  9. Socio-economic assessments
  10. Databases and tools

PE1.1.b) Stakeholders' perceptions on planned versus actual outputs and quality.
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.2 To what extent is the NPMO capacity for single-window project management and coordination of federal activities throughout the regulatory life-cycle of major projects contributing to a more effective, comprehensive and transparent regulatory system? PE1.2.a) Percentage of NPMO service standards that are met or bettered

PE1.2.b) Percentage of projects that maintain an annual progress rate of at least 20 single stages forward (e.g. pre-EA to EA to permitting, etc.)

PE1.2.c) Percentage of EAs that are completed within scheduled timeframe
  • Document Review
  • NPMO project tracker, program files, databases
PE1.2.d) Stakeholders' perceptions of effectiveness, comprehensiveness and transparency
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE 1.3 To what extent is the NPMO capacity to support Crown Consultation contributing to meaningful engagement and participation of Indigenous peoples and northern communities? PE1.3.d) Stakeholders' perceptions of NPMO effectiveness at supporting meaningful engagement and participation

See also PE1.4.b)
  • Document review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.4 To what extent have Indigenous knowledge and perspectives informed decisions for major projects? PE1.4.a) Stakeholders' perspectives of informed decisions

PE1.4.b) The number and percentage of EA decisions and permits for which Indigenous and northern community representatives have requested a judicial review.
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.5 To what extent are partnerships established and nurtured with northern governments and organizations? PE1.5.a) Number and Percentage of time decisions made by both levels of government occurred at the same time

PE1.5.b) New partnerships established

PE1.5.c) Stakeholders' perceptions of partnerships that facilitate NPMO objectives

(see outputs on MoUs)
  • Document Review
  • Program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE 1.6 To what extent is the NPMO capacity in the area of socio-economic assessments contributing to a better understanding of the socio-economic impacts of major projects? PE1.4.a) Stakeholders' perspectives on role of NPMO in improving understanding of social economic impacts of major projects
  • Document review
  • Program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.7 To what extent are gaps in regulatory system filled (by program, tools, mechanisms) by NPMO? PE1.7.a) Identification of program adjustments, new tools or mechanisms to address gaps
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.8 To what extent are approved projects implemented? PE1.8.a) Number and percentage of approved projects in implementation (historical and 2014-17)

PE1.8.b) Number and percentage of project approval decisions that are supported without a judicial review
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO,
PE 1.9 To what extent do approved projects spur economic growth and socio-economic growth in nearby communities? PE1.9.a) Project/community specific socio-economic data

PE1.9.b) Annual decline in social assistance payments to communities where major projects are in EA or further in the regulatory process

PE1.9.c) Stakeholders' perception of approved projects being implemented and their impact
  • Document Review
  • Statistics Canada, Policy, program documents, project files, admin databases
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE1.10 What are the chief internal and external factors influencing achievement of the NPMO's objectives? PE1.10.a) Identification of internal and external factors to the NPMO that may influence the achievement of activities, outputs and outcomes.
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin database
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE2 What are the lessons learned for program design and delivery? PE2.1 What are the key lessons learned (best practices and areas for improvement) in the design and delivery of the NPMO? PE2.1.a) Identification of best practices and areas for improvement in the design and delivery of the NPMO
  • Document Review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin database
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
PE3. Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes? PE3.1 What are the unintended outcomes (positive or negative) of the NPMO Initiative and its core activities? PE2.1.a) Identification of unintended outcomes resulting from Program activities.
  • Document review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin database
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
Performance – Efficiency
Evaluation Issue 5: Efficiency and Economy
EE1. To what extent Is the design of the NPMO Initiative appropriate for achieving its expected outputs and outcomes? EE1.1 Are the benefits of the NPMO off-setting its costs? EE1.1.a) Estimated value of benefits from NPMO activities and outcomes versus NPMO resource levels
  • Document review
  • Program documents, financial documents, project files, others
  • Interviews
  • NPMO staff
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
EE1.2 Are the core activities of NPMO operating efficiently or are there alternative approaches that would be more efficient or economical at achieving the expected outcomes? EE1.2.a) Identification of efficiency and/or cost saving measures implemented.

EE1.2.b) Efficiencies and /or cost savings identified but not implemented.

EE1.2.c) Identification of best practices or areas of improvement (lessons learned)
  • Document Review
  • Program documents, financial documents, project files
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners, project proponents, communities, regulatory boards, others
  • Case Studies
  • Interviews, project files
EE1.3 What is the difference between planned and actual spending? EE1.3.a) Comparison between planned and actual spending.

EE1.3.b) Evidence of financial tracking
  • Document Review
  • Program documents, project documents, financial records
EE1.4 Is the NPMO governance structure clear and are other federal partners actively engaged? EE1.4.a) Stakeholders' perspectives on the governance structure and other federal partner engagement
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO, federal partners
EE2. Is performance information being collected and used to support decision making? EE2.1 How was NPMO performance information used in decision-making? EE2.1.a) Examples of NPMO performance information being used in decision-making.

EE2.1.b) Evidence of performance measurement strategy in place with associated data being collected and reported
  • Document review
  • Policy, program documents, project files, admin database
  • Interviews
  • Interviews with NPMO,
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