The government says the new plan, which was announced by Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver in Toronto, aims to streamline the review process for major investment projects, including mining and energy.
The government says the plan will create "good, skilled, well-paying jobs" in cities across Canada, while still maintaining a high standard for protecting the environment.
The plan calls for three organizations -- the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission -- to conduct reviews, down from the 40 government departments that can be involved currently.
Officials hope to avoid the duplication of work by recognizing provincial reviews as the federal equivalent, as long as they meet requirements under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Reviews would also be limited to 12 months for a standard assessment, and the necessity of a review would have to be determined within 45 days.
The government says the goal is to help prevent long delays that can have a negative affect on job opportunities and economic growth.
However the plan is under fire by environmental groups. Many are concerned that the plan will only benefit large corporations at the expense of the environment.
Officials with Environmental Defence are accusing the Harper government of renouncing its responsibility to protect natural resources, and say the legislation would weaken key environmental protection measures that have been in places for years.
With files from The Canadian Press