These comments have been drafted in response to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines’ (ENDM) proposal to revoke Sections 25.30 and 25.31 of the Electricity Act, 1998 (the Act) by the Métis Nation of Ontario. The MNO represents over 22,000 registered Métis citizens and 31 Chartered Métis Community Councils across Ontario.
As the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting states, Sections 25.30 and 25.31 of the Act are the provisions related to long-term energy plans (LTEPs), implementation directives and implementation plans. Revoking these sections of the Act removes a process by which Indigenous people (and, therefore, the Métis of Ontario) are consulted with. Below are more detailed comments on the guiding questions that were felt to be most relevant to the MNO/the Métis, but there are three key points of the MNO’s comments that must be established at the outset:
1) ENDM must ensure that the MNO/Métis peoples are still consulted with future long-term energy planning, or whatever framework replaces the LTEP framework;
2) Additional clarity is needed around what the new framework will entail and how Indigenous communities will be involved; and,
3) It is imperative that there be thorough consultation with the Métis during any and all future planning processes.
Q: How can we promote transparency, accountability and effectiveness of energy planning and decision-making under a new planning framework?
A: There are two main comments the MNO would like to make in regards to this question. Firstly, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) does an excellent job of communicating and engaging with key stakeholders via the IESO Connects website. IESO takes a thorough, regional approach to planning, and this should be continued, if not further built upon.
Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that ENDM involve Indigenous communities in decision making for processes that may impact rights or way of life. For example, when there is a decision that a new transmission line is needed, ENDM should consult with Indigenous communities before giving a directive to develop an Environmental Assessment to a proponent.
Q: What overarching goals and objectives should be recognized in a renewed planning framework?
A: It is important to recognize that the 2017 LTEP, Delivering Fairness and Choice, confirmed the direction established in the 2013 LTEP, Achieving Balance, which specifically called on proponents looking to develop transmission projects to involve affected First Nations and Métis communities. The new planning framework should continue this direction, seeking to involve the Métis in energy planning, transmission line development, and economic opportunities from the outset, and throughout these planning processes.
Q: Should certain planning processes or decisions by the IESO, the OEB, or the government receive additional scrutiny, for example through legislative oversight or review by an expert committee?
A: Any decision likely to have far-reaching impacts (long transmission lines, inter-provincial transmission lines, etc.) should be reviewed by an expert committee, and there should be Indigenous/Métis representation on said committee. Alternatively, these potential decisions should be brought to Indigenous communities for comments prior to a final decision being made.
Q: How do we ensure effective and meaningful Indigenous participation in energy sector decision-making?
A: Ensuring effective and meaningful Indigenous participation in energy sector decision-making can only be achieved by removing barriers. One of the greatest barriers Indigenous groups and communities face to participating in decision-making is capacity. Capacity, in this case, encompasses funding and sufficiently educated human resources. Therefore, Indigenous communities require the funds, staff, and technical expertise to be able to participate equitably, effectively and meaningfully in energy sector-decision making.
Additionally, to ensure effective and meaningful Indigenous participation, it is vital that ENDM communicate with Indigenous communities before a decision has been made on projects that may impact rights and way of life.
Submitted April 26, 2021 5:06 PM