MPMO Questions and Answers

What is the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO)?

The MPMO is a Government of Canada organization whose main roles are to provide overarching project management and accountability for major resource projects in the federal regulatory review process, and to facilitate improvements to the regulatory system for major resource projects.

Why was the MPMO established?

The MPMO was established to improve the performance of the federal regulatory system for major natural resource projects, in collaboration with other federal departments and agencies. In doing so, the MPMO will advance the principles of transparency, predictability, timeliness and accountability in the Government of Canada's approach to the review of major resource project applications, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory review process.

What are the MPMO's main roles/responsibilities?

The MPMO's main roles/responsibilities are:

  • To provide a single point of entry into the federal regulatory system for proponents of major resource projects;
  • To engage in early discussions, distribution of guidance materials and information exchanges with proponents on proposed projects;
  • To develop in collaboration with relevant federal departments and agencies, consensus-based Project Agreements that articulate the roles and responsibilities of each department and timeline-based performance targets for delivery of process milestones;
  • To track and monitor the Crown's Aboriginal Consultation requirements related to the review of major resource projects and maintain the official record of Aboriginal/Crown consultation for the Government of Canada;
  • To implement and manage a transparent monitoring and tracking system for major resource projects as a mechanism with which to monitor and track the progress of any specific project through the regulatory process; and
  • To lead collaborative research and policy analysis on short, medium and longer term initiatives to improve the performance of the regulatory system-including legislative options, cost recovery, cumulative effects, energy infrastructure corridors, regional assessment and capacity building initiatives/processes.

What is the definition of a major resource project?

The Cabinet Directive on Improving the Performance of the Regulatory System for Major Resource Projects defines a Major Resource Project as a large resource project which is subject to a comprehensive study, a panel review, or a large or complex multi-jurisdictional screening, as defined under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. All major resource projects North of 60 are excluded.

'Large' refers to the physical or geographic (e.g. footprint) of the project, the scale of project's activities, or the specific environmental or social impacts of the project. 'Major Resource Projects' typically involve extracting, processing, refining, producing, distributing, re-processing, disposing of or reclaiming natural resources, as well as decommissioning and reclaiming sites used for any of these activities. Resource sectors that will be considered may include mineral and metal mining, oil sands development and processing, and energy generation and transmission.

The Law List Regulations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) provide a list of provisions of statutes and regulations that "trigger" the requirement for a federal environmental assessment under the CEAA.

Why doesn't the MPMO apply to major projects in all sectors?

Since approximately 80% of all major projects are resource projects, most major projects are managed by the MPMO. As well, other major projects such as transportation corridors often support resource projects.

The focus on resource projects will alleviate pressure on the entire regulatory system which will benefit all major projects over the longer-term. In the future, as further areas of improvement to the regulatory system are identified, the Government will consider other initiatives that may be targeted specifically to major resource projects, or more broadly to all major projects.

Why doesn't the MPMO apply to major projects in the North?

The Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is in the process of reviewing the regulatory situation North of 60,with the same objective of improving that regulatory system. Through the Government's Regulatory Improvement Initiative which funded the creation of the MPMO, departments receiving funds will increase their regulatory and environmental assessment capacity in those regions where there is the greatest need and demand resulting in additional capacity in the North.

Are all major resource projects as defined by the MPMO subject to the "MPMO Process"?

Yes. All such projects will be subject to the MPMO process, ensuring consistency with the Government's commitment to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory system for major resource projects. This process includes the development of a project agreement between interested federal departments, committing to timelines for the environmental assessment (EA) and regulatory processes. Once the project agreement has been signed by Deputy Ministers, the MPMO will track and report on the progress of the EA and the regulatory processes, and assist in the resolution of issues to avoid delays.

Are proponents of major resource projects required to engage the MPMO for their projects?

There is no legal requirement for proponents of major resource projects to engage the MPMO for their projects but they are strongly encouraged to do so. Early engagement will allow the MPMO to provide proponents with necessary early guidance on information requirements and Aboriginal consultation that will facilitate an improved regulatory process. Regardless of whether a proponent chooses to engage the MPMO for its major resource project, the 'MPMO process' will apply to that project.

Will the MPMO replace or duplicate the role of the CEAA Agency?

The MPMO will not replace or duplicate the CEA Agency's role in coordinating environmental assessments, as defined under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the 2005 Cabinet Directive on Implementing CEAA. The MPMO is intended to work closely with the CEA Agency on key aspects of each project review from the pre-environmental assessment phase to the environmental assessment stage, to regulatory permitting and authorizations required for operations to commence, through to follow-up monitoring.

Will regulatory departments answer to or be accountable to the MPMO?

No. The MPMO will work together with all departments and agencies to make sure all lines of communication are open and to ensure each federal department understands its role and responsibilities. The MPMO will track and monitor projects to ensure the federal regulatory system addresses issues in a timely and effective manner. It will also work to ensure the government has the best information possible to make decisions on longer-term improvements to the regulatory system.

How will the MPMO interact with non-Agency led processes (e.g. the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the National Energy Board)?

The National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are full partners and are committed to Regulatory Improvement Initiative to the same extent as the other departments, except where their legislation/quasi-judicial mandate will not permit them to participate. These organizations have committed to collaborate with the MPMO by having their projects tracked and monitored, by having early discussions with proponents and to developing project agreements. Although they did not receive funding through this initiative, they elected to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to demonstrate their commitment.

What is the MPMO's role with respect to Aboriginal consultation?

The MPMO will work closely with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and other departments and agencies to ensure that the federal government fulfills its consultation responsibilities in a consistent, adequate and meaningful manner.

Regional project-specific teams of federal (and where relevant provincial) officials will be established on a project-by-project basis as a mechanism to ensure the consistent and coordinated delivery of any Crown consultation requirements. These teams will be coordinated by the CEA Agency, commencing before a project description is submitted and throughout the EA process. Once the EA phase has been completed, federal departments may carry out outstanding consultation requirements in respect of their regulatory decision-making. This general approach to consultation will be used on an interim basis while the broader federal policy on Aboriginal consultation is developed.

Will the MPMO compromise Canada's environmental assessment process?

No. In fact, this initiative will strengthen and protect Canada`s environmental standards. The MPMO is intended to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of our regulatory system, and the environmental assessment is the first step of that system. Project proponents will still have to comply with all requirements to meet Canada's strict environmental standards. In fact, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has received a significant portion of the funding provided for this initiative to further implement improvements to the environmental processes. CEAA plays a key role in ensuring environmental assessments are science-based and protect the environment.

Where will the MPMO be located and who will it report to?

The MPMO is located in Ottawa, Ontario and will report to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Regional MPMO offices are not within the current funding provided for the MPMO. MPMO staff will travel to the regions as necessary and establish a network of regional contacts to ensure MPMO objectives are met. The funding provided to regulatory departments and CEAA through the Initiative will be used to augment technical capacity in regions across Canada where resource development is taking place.

What funding is being provided for the MPMO?

Budget 2007 provided $30 million over five years for the MPMO.

How can I get more information about the MPMO?

The office is situated at, 155 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0E4. MPMO officials can be reached via email at