Updates to the ACO Proponent Guide: Impacts to Stakeholder Information Management (SIM)
It’s been about one month since the Alberta Consultation Office (ACO) released the updated The Government of Alberta’s Proponent Guide to First Nations and Métis Settlements Consultation Procedures, also known as the Proponent Guide, and part of those updates include a redesigned and quite specific Record of Consultation (ROC) Log. Typically, the ROC Log is a table that includes summaries of the engagement activities, the issues or concerns raised by the First Nation and Métis Settlement, and how the proponent plans to follow-up or mitigate the issues or concerns. As one of Western Canada’s leading regulators that provides stringent expectations, the ACO has now increased their requirements by requesting clarity within the ROC Logs and by stipulating how the ROC Logs are shared with First Nation and Métis Settlements.
“Proponents must ensure that each ROC Log submitted to the ACO contains a complete, detailed, and accurate chronological account of the consultation activities, including all successful and unsuccessful efforts to engage and/or consult. Additionally, proponents are expected to gather, and maintain any supporting documentation (emails, letters, meeting minutes, memos, etc.) needed to substantiate entries made in the ROC Log.” The Government of Alberta’s Proponent Guide to First Nations and Metis Settlements Consultation Procedures (June 2016) Section 3.5 Record of Consultation (ROC) Log. pp. 16.
What does this mean for proponents in Alberta? Basically, it means they are required to record and provide evidence for every conversation or attempt at engagement in order to show due diligence to mitigate First Nation and Métis Settlements issues and concerns. This isn’t an easy task and, let’s face it, it’s time consuming -especially when resources are limited and Aboriginal groups require ongoing consultation. However, this type of record keeping has increasingly become a requirement by all the regulators in Canada. With the updates to the Proponent Guide, the ACO has also stipulated that within each ROC Log, a proponent must include:
- A PDF document with labeled activities (emails, meeting minutes, letters, phone calls, text messages, etc.) in chronological order mirroring the ROC Log.
- A written reference within the ROC Log to the supporting document, which proves the consultation activity.
The ACO is aiming to ensure the ROC Logs are easy to read while aligning how proponents, Aboriginal groups and the ACO define consultation as complete. Once the ROC Log is finalized, the proponent must also send the ROC Log to the First Nation or Métis Settlement for review, accompanied by “a notice explaining intent of the review, the timelines associated with the review, and the proponent’s future plans to request an Adequacy Assessment” (2016 Proponent Guide: Overview of Major Changes, Section 3.6). Proof of consultation combined with an honest and transparent engagement strategy has become the norm for regulatory application success.
The economic downturn and cost-saving environment has not exempted proponents from meaningful engagement with Aboriginal groups and stakeholders impacted by their project. The political context, regulatory framework, case law and precedent setting agreements are changing, and the standard of consultation and documentation is continually increasing.
As Canada’s largest information management team, Communica’s SIM team leads the industry in effective and efficient information management practices. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a presentation on these new requirements or SIM best practice to learn what you and your team can do to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for unnecessary non-technical delays.