Industry Canada Guidance Document for Conducting Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs)
Below is Industry Canada's Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) 2007 guideline and copies of the SEA questionnaire. Right-click on the format of your choice and select "Save Target As..." to download a copy to your computer
Adobe Acrobat: 2007 SEA_questionnaire.pdf (PDF - 50.65 KB - 12 pages)
Microsoft Word: 2007 SEA_questionnaire.doc (word format - 133 KB - 12 pages)
Corel WordPerfect: 2007 SEA_questionnaire.wpd (word perfect format - 133 KB - 12 pages)
The following guidelines and questionnaire provide authors preparing Memoranda to Cabinet (MCs) and Treasury Board (TB) submissions with the information needed to conduct an SEA. In many cases it will only be necessary to fill in the Description of the Proposal and the Preliminary Assessment part of the questionnaire.
Completion of the SEA questionnaire supports compliance with the 2004 amended Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (Directive) including the amendment concerning public statement. The directive states that Ministers expect that an SEA will be undertaken when the following two conditions are met:
- the proposal is submitted to an individual minister or Cabinet for approval;
- the implementation of the proposal may result in important environmental effects, either negative or positive.
Federal government departments are also encouraged to conduct SEAs when other unusual or special circumstances warrant. For example, an SEA may be undertaken if there are strong public concerns about the possible environmental consequences of a proposal.
Please note that under certain situations (refer to section A.6 of the questionnaire), a detailed SEA is not required.
What is an SEA ?
An SEA is a systematic, comprehensive and iterative process for assessing the environmental effects, both negative and positive, of a proposed policy, plan1 or program and its alternatives. The focus should be on identifying strategic considerations at a general or conceptual level. The SEA differs from a Project Environmental Assessment (PEA), which focusses on evaluating quantitative, detailed environmental effects of a particular project.
Why are SEAs needed?
SEAs help decision-makers to integrate environmental considerations into policies, plans and programs which will help to promote sustainable development. The Cabinet Directive asks departments and agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their MCs and TB submissions, and determine if those impacts are important. The Directive also notes that environmental considerations should be integrated into each of the options developed. Any analysis that is presented to the Minister, Cabinet or in key related decision documents such as the MC Communications Plan or a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement should reflect the results of the detailed SEA. An SEAs hould also be completed by officers at Industry Canada, even if the department is not the lead on an MC but the Minister is expected to be signing with other Ministers.
SEA is a risk management tool, which can help the department anticipate, avoid or minimize possible negative environmental effects of its policies, plans and programs. SEAs also help to identify and optimize positive environmental effects. When conducted early, SEAs can save the department time and resources. They can also address public concerns about the environmental impacts of government sponsored initiatives.
How is an SEA conducted?
Use the SEA questionnaire to identify the impacts the proposal may trigger, whether intended or not, and their effects on the environment. SEAs are most effective when started early on in the development of a policy, plan or program proposal.
The originator should focus on identifying strategic considerations at a high level, rather than a detailed, quantitative analysis. That is, the SEAs hould be concerned with describing the overall magnitude of the environmental effects, if they are cumulative, large-scale, short or long-term. According to the Directive, the magnitude of the proposal's anticipated environmental effects should dictate the level of effort in preparing the analysis.
When are Public Statements required?
A Public Statement is required when a detailed assessment of environmental effects has been conducted through an SEA. The purpose of a statement is to demonstrate that environmental factors have been integrated into the decision-making process. Any disclosure of information is subject to existing legislation, regulations and policies governing the release of information (e.g. Cabinet secrecy).
How do I begin?
- Review the guidance, the questionnaire and the 3 Annexes. Use this information to help integrate environmental considerations into the decisions related to the development of your proposal.
- Complete the questionnaire as early as possible. As with the proposal itself, the SEA may need to undergo a number of revisions as it moves through the decision making process.
- Append your completed SEA questionnaire (including the public statement if needed), along with any attachments to the MC or TB submission, and follow normal filing procedures. Retain a copy of the SEA for your own files. Please note that an SEA has the same level of security as the document for which it was developed.
Additional notes for authors of TB submissions
- If an SEA has already been completed for the parent MC of the TB submission,
a separate SEA is not required. Contact the author of the MC to determine
whether an SEA was completed. If an SEA was completed for the parent MC, the
TB submission should reference the SEA. This summary should include a brief
presentation of the important findings.
- If the TB submission relates to a project for which the federal government holds decision-making authority, an environmental assessment (EA) must be conducted according to the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). For example, an EA is required for every project to which we make a commitment for financial assistance, for which we issue a permit or a license, or which we undertake ourselves. Some of the activities that we support are no longer defined as projects and will not require an EA. Refer to Annex 3 for the formal definition of project under the CEAA. Please contact Edith Brassard at (613) 957-9913 for additional information on EA for specific projects.
More information on SEA and the CEAA are available in the attached Annexes and on the following web sites:
If you have any questions about the SEA process, please contact Georgina Wainwright Kemdirim , Strategic Policy Branch, at 613-948-7277
- does not originate from an existing MC
or TB submission or will not be part
of a future MC or TB
- involves a significant allocation of resources and is anticipated to have important environmental effects.
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