We citizens may sometimes be loath to admit it, but there’s no question governments have become more effective and efficient in delivering some key services in recent years.
Remember when renewing your driver’s license or vehicle registration would consume half your day? Or the Soviet-style queues at your local passport office? Or the seemingly endless paper chase you endured to snag your student loan?
These ordeals, thankfully, are experiences of past. That’s because governments of all levels have taken a big leaf from the private sector book. Governments have harnessed technology, modern management systems, and top-notch expertise to provide effective service without compromising their mandate to uphold the public good.
Of course, huge challenges remain for the public sector, especially when it comes to the delivery of important and complex offerings, such as healthcare, tax collection and unemployment insurance.
Regulatory system overhaul
Recently, the Canadian government announced plans to dramatically streamline one of its most critical and multifarious services: the system it uses to provide environmental oversight of resource development projects.
The government said it made the move to help prevent long delays in reviewing projects that kill potential jobs and stall economic activity
Not surprisingly the plan got two thumbs up from Canada’s energy developers. According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), developers collectively invest over $50 billion each year and employ more than 500,000 Canadians.
CAPP pointed out that bottlenecks in the current regulatory system have often led to project delays or cancellations, reducing economic benefits from the industry’s sizeable investment.
A step in the right direction
Suncor is encouraged by the federal government’s move. We think it improves the regulatory process without compromising its effectiveness.
The changes should also help ensure that proposals to build critical infrastructure needed to address new and growing markets get considered in a timely way.
Not everybody is happy with the government’s plan. Critics, including some in the environmental community, worry the government is preparing to abdicate its responsibility for environmental protection. They’re also concerned the scaled-down process will weaken the quality of environmental oversight.
Suncor remains committed to mitigating the impacts of oil sands development on the environment. As we have explored in a previous OSQAR, it’s clear industry has environmental impacts that must be considered and reduced as much as possible and rigorous regulatory scrutiny is vital when you think about what’s at stake.
And we commend the federal government for tackling the huge challenge of delivering its complex and critically important environmental oversight service more effectively and efficiently.