Canada Energy Regulator – 2020–21 Departmental Plan

Corporate information

Organizational profile

Appropriate minister(s): The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.

Institutional head: C. Peter Watson, P.Eng., FCAE

Ministerial portfolio: Natural Resources

Enabling instrument[s]: Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act)Footnote 30

Year of incorporation / commencement: 2019

Other: The CER Act came into force on 28 August 2019.

Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d’être

The Canada Energy Regulator is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada’s energy industry. It regulates pipelines, energy development and trade on behalf of Canadians in a way that protects the public and the environment while supporting efficient markets. The Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for this organization.

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the “Minister’s mandate letterFootnote 31.

Mandate and Role

The CER’s mandate and role is detailed at Governance of the Canada Energy Regulator – Mandate, Roles and Responsibilities on the CER website.

In support of the Minister’s mandate, the CER is ensuring efficient and effective implementation of the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) Act.

The CER is a partner organization supporting the Impact Assessment and Regulatory Processes horizontal initiative led by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. The objective of this horizontal initiative is to reflect a commitment to social, economic and environmental sustainability and respect our partnership with Indigenous peoples.

Operating context

The CER is committed to ensuring safety, security and environmental protection; enhancing Canada’s global competitiveness by enabling sound projects to be carried out; and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Managing risks and seizing opportunities in the work we do on behalf of all Canadians will affect how the CER achieves planned results for 2020–21. The context in which we operate as a regulator demands that we mitigate the following mandate-level and regulatory excellence risks:

  • 1) A legislative, regulatory and oversight framework that does not sufficiently address emerging safety and security issues, industry practices, or the adoption of new technologies:

Keeping people safe and protecting our land and water is a principal concern for the CER. We know our impact as a regulator is best illustrated in an absence of incidents and the prevention of harm. That is why delivering a system of legislative, regulatory and safety oversight that keeps Canadians and the environment safe must be informed by an understanding of safety and security issues, industry practices, and new technologies.

We expect companies to embrace new technologies and innovative approaches in order to improve the effectiveness of their management systems. We also expect them to adapt to the evolving expectations people have for energy companies and work with Indigenous Peoples to protect the environment. Regulated projects must be designed, constructed, operated and abandoned in a safe and secure manner that protects people, property and the environment. In support of this, the CER is:

  • Verifying company compliance with our regulatory requirements, and where non-compliance occurs, take necessary enforcement actions.
  • Developing a Construction Worker Safety Action plan to conduct pre-construction audits and follow up on every serious injury incident.
  • Reviewing regulatory policy expectations on key matters including the identification of trends to address complex harms.
  • Co-developing Indigenous monitoring partnerships outside of the Indigenous Advisory Monitoring Committees (IAMCs).
  • Carrying out targeted Regulatory Framework improvements, per the Regulatory Framework Plan.
  • Acquiring and analyzing detailed data on unauthorized activities, remediation activities and other critical safety requirements to identify trends.
  • Promoting Safety Culture and safety performance beyond compliance and work with industry to address issues that originate outside our scope of regulation.
  • Engaging with stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples to inform regulatory oversight to improve incident reduction activities and effectiveness in emergency response.
  • 2) An insufficient recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership with, and insufficient involvement of, Indigenous Peoples in a meaningful way in our adjudication processes and lifecycle oversight activities:

Reconciliation is a focus for the CER, because Indigenous Peoples are some of the most directly impacted by the infrastructure we regulate – and best able to articulate what impacts and mitigations need to be considered in decision-making to ensure Indigenous rights and interests are respected. We are making deliberate efforts to support reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, by ensuring full consideration of Indigenous rights, interest and knowledge when regulating energy projects. An emphasis on reconciliation is also directly written into our founding legislation, the CER Act.

Continued conflict with, and legal challenges by, First Nations, Métis and Inuit representatives during the review, approval and implementation of regulated projects may occur if the CER is ineffective in recognizing rights, demonstrating respect, promoting cooperation and partnership with Indigenous Peoples. To improve trust and improve issue resolution together with Indigenous Peoples, the CER is:

  • Establishing an Indigenous Advisory Committee to the CER with membership representing First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations.
  • Making certain we have transparent processes that are built on early engagement and inclusive participation, under which the best available scientific information and data and Indigenous knowledge are taken into account in decision-making.
  • Implementing cultural competency training and Indigenous Awareness programming for all staff to understand more about Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Considering Indigenous rights and interests will become embedded in the way we do our work.
  • Reviewing and updating processes to ensure Indigenous interests are reflected in the oversight of pipeline construction and other lifecycle phases.
  • Reviewing policies, guidance and tools with input from Indigenous Peoples.
  • 3) Inadequate regulatory oversight that may impair Canada’s global competitiveness:

Our ability to regulate efficiently and effectively is critically important to the country, as Canada is endowed with vast quantities of natural resources in the form of oil and natural gas as well as renewable energy such as wind or solar. The energy industry is striving to realize the benefits of these resources by accessing traditional and global markets at fair market prices by relying on energy infrastructure. Canada’s ability to access global markets in a competitive manner will largely determine the extent to which the country will benefit from energy trade. Most of the energy commodities destined for those markets are transported on facilities regulated by the CER. Canadians, companies and investors want to be confident that sound projects will be built in a way that protects the environment and respects Indigenous rights, while creating jobs and growing our economy.

While our process must be efficient, predictable, transparent and timely, our regulatory oversight must also drive innovation and excellence within the regulated community. At the same time, our regulatory oversight must build trust and confidence amongst stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples.

In pursuit of a more predictable, coherent, and transparent regulatory environment that contributes to Canada’s global competitiveness, the CER is:

  • Communicating clear filing requirements and expectations for assessment processes to improve certainty for applicants, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders and enable any member of the public to express their views during hearings.
  • Appointing Designated Officers for more efficient exercise or performance of duties and functions of the Commission that are technical or administrative in nature.
  • Improving guidance to proponents on information requirements during early planning and engagement phase.
  • Working with Impact Assessment Agency to deliver integrated reviews effectively.
  • Improving data and information management to support engagement with stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples and build trust and confidence.
  • Implementing an early engagement process to identify and where possible, resolving issues ahead of the review process without impacting timelines for decisions

Reporting framework

The CER has incorporated wording updates to some Core Responsibility descriptions to reflect new CER legislated responsibilities. The CER has also updated some departmental result and indicator wording to reflect CER legislation and improvements.

The CER’s approved Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory for 2020–21 are as follows: Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory for 2020-21

Graphic description
Reporting framework
Departmental Results Framework Core Responsibility 1:
Energy Adjudication
Core Responsibility 2:
Safety and Environment Oversight
Core Responsibility 3:
Energy Information
Core Responsibility 4:
Internal Services
Departmental Result: Energy Adjudication processes are fair. Indicator: Percentage of adjudication decisions overturned on judicial appeal related to procedural fairness Departmental Result: Harm to people or the environment, throughout the lifecycle of energy-related activities, is prevented. Indicator: Number of serious injuries and fatalities related to regulated infrastructure. Departmental Result: Canadians access and use energy information for knowledge, research or decision-making. Indicator: Number of times the energy information is accessed. Departmental Result: Input provided by Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders influences our decisions and our work. Indicator: Evidence that input from Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders influences our decisions and our work.
Departmental Result: Energy Adjudication processes are timely. Indicator: Percentage of adjudication decisions and recommendations that are made within legislated time limits and service standards. Indicator: Number of incidents related to regulated infrastructure that harm the environment. Indicator: Percentage of surveyed web users who agree that energy information is useful for knowledge, research or decision-making. Departmental Result: Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders provide feedback that engagement with the Canada Energy Regulator is meaningful. Indicator: Percentage of participants in engagement activities who indicate that the engagement was meaningful.
Departmental Result: Energy Adjudication processes are transparent. Indicator: Percentage of surveyed participants who indicate that adjudication processes are transparent. Indicator: Percentage of unauthorized activities on regulated infrastructure that involve repeat violators. Departmental Result: Canadians have access to community-specific regulated infrastructure information. Indicator: Increased information specific to regulated infrastructure in communities.
Departmental Result: Energy Adjudication processes are accessible. Indicator: Percentage of surveyed participant funding recipients who agree that participant funding enabled their participation in an adjudication process. Departmental Result: Canadians have opportunities to collaborate and provide feedback on Canada Energy Regulator information products. Indicator: Number of opportunities that Canadians have to collaborate and provide feedback on energy information products.
Program Inventory Program: Infrastructure, Tolls, and Export Applications Program: Company Performance Program: Energy System Information Program: Stakeholder Engagement  
Program: Participant Funding Program: Management System and Industry Performance Program: Pipeline Information Program: Indigenous Engagement
Program: Emergency Management
Program: Regulatory Framework
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