Canada Energy Regulator – 2020–21 Departmental Results Report – Results at a glance and operating context
Funds used: $99.83M
Number of staff: 522
Launched in the summer of 2019, the Canada Energy Regulator’s first full fiscal year in operation was 2020–21. In that relatively short period of time, the CER has established its footing and made great strides to fulfil the scope and intent of its authority and responsibilities under the organization’s founding legislation, the Canada Energy Regulator Act.
While the CER’s first full fiscal year in operation was overshadowed by the pandemic, the organization made significant progress in advancing its important work as the country’s national energy regulator.
One of the CER’s most significant achievements in 2020–21 was the completion of a new Strategic Plan that includes an updated CER Mission, Vision and four Strategic Priorities. The new Strategic Plan takes effect on April 1, 2021.
Regulating infrastructure to ensure safe and efficient delivery of energy to Canada and the world, protecting the environment, recognizing and respecting the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and providing timely and relevant energy information and analysis.
An energy regulator with an exemplary workforce that has the confidence of Canadians; is dedicated to ensuring safety and environmental sustainability; builds strong relationships with First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit; and enhances Canada’s global competitiveness.
The Vision is aspirational, capturing the type of regulator the CER strives to be and furthering commitments outlined in the preamble of the CER Act. The Mission aligns with the CER's mandate, as described in its enabling legislation. The organization’s Mission also states that safety is at the core of the CER’s mandate and is further framed with a commitment to respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples of Canada and continuing the CER’s work in energy information.
For the past several years, the CER has identified priorities in which it would strategically focus program activities. These Focus Areas extended beyond the outcomes of any one program or core responsibility. They required cross organizational leadership to drive a systematic shift in the way the CER delivered services to Canadians.
The term 'Focus Area,' which was incorporated in the organization’s previous Strategic Plans, has been replaced in the CER’s new Plan with the term 'Strategic Priority.' The organization’s new Strategic Plan has four Strategic Priorities, which include Trust and Confidence, Reconciliation, Competitiveness, and Data and Digital Innovation. These Strategic Priorities build and expand upon the exceptional work done to date in the CER's Focus Areas.
Two of the Focus Areas from 2020–21 – ‘Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples’ and ‘Data Transformation’ – are included in the CER’s new Strategic Plan as Strategic Priorities. The third Focus Area – ‘People and Workforce’ – has been elevated in the new Strategic Plan, as it is now made permanent in the organization’s Vision statement. The Focus on ‘People and Workforce’ will also continue to form a critical element of the Trust and Confidence Strategic Priority.
Setting the strategic direction for the organization is central to the role of the Board of Directors. Once the Board set the new Strategic Plan, which took effect on April 1, 2021, it became the role of the CEO to lead its implementation as part of the day-to-day business of the organization.
Establishment of the Indigenous Advisory Committee
The CER’s Indigenous Advisory Committee is a key component of the organization’s commitment to advance Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The IAC was established in August of 2020 to fulfil a legislative requirement to establish an advisory committee to enhance the involvement of Indigenous peoples in the CER’s regulated infrastructure.
The IAC is made up of nine members, three of whom are appointed by national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Committee members reflect Canada’s diversity of Indigenous communities, languages, genders, geographies, and skills and expertise. They are leaders at the local, regional and national level, and respected voices of their communities with significant experience in the energy and natural resources sectors.
The overarching role of the IAC is to provide broad and strategic advice directly to the Board of Directors about how the CER can build a renewed relationship with First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit communities.
Through its initial meetings, the IAC provided sound advice on the CER’s new Strategic Plan, the Reconciliation Strategic Priority and the organization’s ongoing work on its approach to Crown consultation.
Looking ahead, the CER will seek the Indigenous Advisory Committee’s advice on approaches to Indigenous peoples’ involvement in CER regulatory oversight and on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesFootnote 6. This advice will bring meaningful change to the way the CER works, including its oversight of the industries it regulates.
Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees and Indigenous Monitors
The CER recognizes the critical importance of learning about and applying Indigenous expertise in traditional land use, sacred sites and historical knowledge as a part of safety and environment regulatory oversight.
In 2016, the Government of Canada announced the creation of Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees (IAMCs) for both the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Program. The IAMCs bring together Indigenous representatives and Government of Canada counterparts to provide strategic oversight advice to government and regulators, and to monitor the construction and operation of the projects.
As a part of its strategic oversight role, the IAMCs have Monitoring sub-committees. With the guidance of the broader IAMC, trained Indigenous Monitors work in the field with CER Inspection Officers before, during and after the inspections, enhancing the expertise of the inspection team.
Indigenous Monitors help with scoping for the inspections, accompany inspection officers in the field, and provide observations to be included in the CER’s inspection report.
Involving Indigenous monitors has enhanced the ability of CER’s staff to gain awareness and understanding of the diversity of Indigenous traditional and cultural worldviews, including specific expertise in traditional land use, sacred sites and historical knowledge.
To date, Indigenous Monitors have participated in more than 114 joint inspections with CER staff, strengthening our safety and environmental oversight to prevent harm, help protect Indigenous interests and build relationships.
The Canadian Energy Regulator Act states that the CER’s absolute priority is safety. It notes that pipelines, power lines and offshore renewable energy projects have to be constructed, operated and abandoned in a safe and secure manner that protects people, property and the environment. That is what the CER focused on delivering in 2020–21, and that is what it will continue to do.
The CER dedicated significant resources and efforts to the oversight of construction of TMX. This included consideration of TMX condition-compliance and in-field inspections carried out with Indigenous monitors. Its work with both the TMX and Enbridge Line 3 Indigenous Advisory Monitoring Committees also shaped the CER’s approach to incorporating Indigenous perspectives in its oversight activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to have an impact throughout the world for the entire 2020–21 fiscal year. For the CER, this meant that its staff would serve the public every day from about 500 locations across Canada, working from kitchen tables, makeshift home offices and in the field with additional safety protocols and gear.
Every single day, CER staff got the job done: inspections were conducted, regulations were enforced, applications were reviewed, engagement with Indigenous peoples and stakeholders continued, and energy trends were compiled, analyzed and released to the public.
Oversight of CER-regulated energy infrastructure also continued in 2020–21, as the CER adapted how it conducted its compliance verification activities – including inspections – to protect the health and safety of CER staff, regulated companies, and all those it works closely with.
As the CER considered COVID-19 a hazard that companies needed to identify and manage, the organization worked to verify that companies were taking all steps required to protect their workers from the impacts caused by the pandemic.
Most importantly, all of this work and these modified processes were carried out without compromising safety, oversight or environmental monitoring.
The Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator also adjusted a number of its adjudicative processes to replace in-person hearings with alternative formats, such as written or virtual proceedings, to allow participants to fully adhere to applicable public health measures. Revised and flexible processes allowed the Commission to operate in a fair, efficient, transparent and accessible manner, while also respecting the open-court principle. This enabled the Commission to continue making timely decisions while keeping safe everyone who relied on and participated in its proceedings.
Thanks to an enormous team effort and solid business continuity planning, CER business operations continued uninterrupted throughout the entire year.
Looking back, the people of the CER learned a lot about their ability to harness individual and collective strengths to adjust how the organization works and effectively serves Canadians. The CER still does not know exactly what its workplace will look like beyond the pandemic, but the CER team does know that it will continue to be dedicated to the safety and well-being of its staff, Indigenous communities, the public, and the companies it regulates.
For more information on the CER’s plans, priorities and results achieved, see the “Results: what we achieved” section of this report.
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