How we execute our mandate
The CER welcomes feedback on the content of the Regulatory Framework at any time.
On the left-hand side of the Regulatory Framework graphic spans our Core Responsibilities. These are the five broad areas of work through which we execute our mandate and implement our Regulatory Framework. The Core Responsibilities are Energy Adjudication, Oversight, Energy Information, Engagement and Internal Services. Each is described in the tabs below.
The CER Regulatory Framework is represented by a circle graphic. The center of the circle contains the word ‘Acts’ around which the circle works, as depicted by arrows running clockwise. Acts are laws passed by Parliament that establish the CER’s mandate. We consider this to be the heart of the Regulatory Framework.
The left-hand side of the circle identifies our regulatory tools (from bottom to top: guidance, regulatory documents and regulations) with a band running through the tools with the words ‘Core Responsibilities’ – i.e., the means by which we execute our mandate.
Companies we regulate are required to seek approval for various activities.
An important area of our work involves the Commission of the CER making decisions or recommendations to the Governor in Council (GIC), who is authorized by Parliament to make decisions on certain applications. When doing so, we use processes that are fair, transparent, inclusive, timely and accessible. This work includes an assessment of several factors and potential impacts that are discussed in the Canadian Energy Regulator Act.
- Very generally, the GIC means the Governor General of Canada acting on the advice Cabinet to make regulations. The GIC also has responsibilities beyond making regulations for the CER, such as approving certain decisions made by the Commission of the CER.
Obtain more information on applications and our hearing process.
Applications under the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act):
- construction and operation of international and interprovincial pipelines and international power lines in Canada, along with related facilities and activities, or modifying or abandoning existing facilities;
- export of crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids and electricity;
- establishing pipeline tolls – i.e. the fees charged to use pipeline services; and
- establishing pipeline tariffs – i.e. the rules for using pipeline services.
Applications under Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act (COGOA), for approvals of the following activities on non-accord federal lands:
- exploration and drilling for oil and gas; and
- production, processing and transport of oil and gas.
Applications under Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA) are required to provide information to the CER to determine possible significant or commercial discovery on non-accord federal lands.
Proposed projects are reviewed by highly qualified professionals who are experts in their field. They assess many factors, including:
- sound engineering and design;
- impact on the environment;
- impact on people – their wellbeing, property and the rights they enjoy;
- special attention is given to impact on Indigenous Peoples; and
- market considerations.
The review of proposed projects relies on many sources of information, including:
- the company’s application in accordance with the CER Filing Manuals and regulations;
- additional information provided by the company;
- Indigenous knowledge and information shared by First Nations, Métis and Inuit participants;
- information provided by other participants to the review process;
- expert studies and research, for example land, environment, economic feasibility studies; and
- what is just and reasonable for tolls/tariffs.
Public participation is important.
The CER is committed to fair, inclusive, transparent and efficient hearings and decisions. Our processes enable us to engage meaningfully with Canadians, and in particular Indigenous Peoples, in our public hearings.
We understand that reviews in front of Commissioners with formal procedures, including experts in complicated disciplines can be intimidating – so, we work to make Energy Adjudication accessible, through:
- guidance materials – such as, hearing process flowcharts, handbooks and toolboxes;
- Process Advisors – i.e., staff available to answer questions and to help participants; and
- Participant Funding Program – i.e., funds available to participants who need it.
Obtain more information on applications and our hearing process.
How does Energy Adjudication inform our Regulatory Framework?
The application assessment process gives us an opportunity to hear what matters to people. Certificates, licenses, orders and permits issued by the Commission where conditions are imposed allow us to check how effective and efficient our Regulatory Framework is. Over time, we may review and analyze information to see what is common across energy projects in order to improve our processes and guidance products or possibly, inform changes to our regulations.
We check that companies are complying with our Regulatory Framework at every phase of the facility’s lifecycle. When companies do not meet requirements, we have the authority to take action to bring the company back into compliance.
Compliance verification activities (CVA) are used to verify that a company is meeting (complying with) requirements, they include:
- Inspections. These are checks, done at one point in time. They focus on one or two areas of the company’s operations, looking at areas such as safety, integrity and environmental protection.
For example: when pipeline construction is underway or when buried pipelines require repair, we may verify that the company’s Environmental Protection Plan is being carried out in the field. Our inspectors will go on-site and observe the actions of the work crews for things such as how topsoil is handled and garbage is cleared.
- Audits. These are evaluations, sometimes done over long spans of time. They focus on how a company manages its operations and – in many cases, happen in different sites or offices. Our auditors verify that companies have management systems and protection programs that work well.
For example: companies must have control systems for their pipelines. These are constantly monitored by qualified staff in control rooms. We may verify the personnel, processes and activities used to operate the pipeline control system for things such as, how emergency shutdowns are handled and how maintenance is done or improvements identified.
We use a risk-based approach to plan inspections and audits. For example, we will inspect a pipeline operation or company with a higher risk of compliance violations than one with a lower risk or we will check activities happening in locations where there are more hazards due to population or where the environment is more sensitive. We cannot be everywhere, all of the time – our risk model allows us to identify where our efforts are best applied to prevent harm.
Also see the short video Enforcing the Rules on YouTube.
Obtain more information on compliance and enforcement.
How does Oversight inform our Regulatory Framework?
The information collected through inspections and audits is used to inform potential Regulatory Framework changes. As we work to improve industry outcomes, specific observations noted in the reports created during our compliance verification activities, taken together and over time, may show us the need for additional guidance or may point to the need for more formal changes to regulations.
We engage with Indigenous Peoples, landowners, regulated industry and stakeholders through dialogue, sharing information and building relationships with Canadians.
Obtain more information on engagement.
How does Engagement inform our Regulatory Framework?
We record the details of all engagement activities. Over time the information collected informs our understanding of prevailing public concerns and supports our plans for the Regulatory Framework – to make sure we incorporate opinions shared when we adjust our regulatory tools and shape how we consult the public.
We collect, monitor, analyze and publish information on energy markets and supply, sources of energy and the safety and security of pipelines and international power lines.
We play a vital role in conveying objective and neutral information to the Minister of Natural Resources and, importantly, to all Canadians. This energy information is used to:
- enhance knowledge, research and/or regulatory decision-making;
- provide community-specific CER infrastructure information to Canadians; and
- provide Canadians with opportunities to collaborate and provide feedback on CER energy information products.
Our energy information experts also play a role in providing educational contributions to the public. We:
- advise existing university programs regarding the development of new programs;
- directly contribute to university-level programs by providing coaching, speakers, and student-project evaluators;
- advise university energy research strategy; and
- develop educational activities based on Canada’s forecasted energy demand and supply. These educational activities are targeted to high school students to encourage students and educators to explore Canada’s energy ecosystem using an interactive tool to help guide the way. This tool allows users to explore the future of energy in Canada over the long term. Find additional resources, including a teacher’s guide.
Obtain more information on our data and analysis.
How does Energy Information inform our Regulatory Framework?
The energy information collected and analyzed informs changes to the Regulatory Framework over time. For example, as Canada transitions to a carbon-neutral economy, Energy Information will continue to shape our understanding of emerging needs for new guidance or the need to adjust requirements in our Regulatory Framework for things such as Green House Gas emissions measurement, forecasting and reporting.
Internal Services include a broad range of activities that support the execution of our mandate. These activities take place throughout the CER and are completed by people in various disciplines in areas such as the Office of the Secretary, Legal Services, Finance, Data and Information Technology, Communications and Corporate Performance.
How do Internal Services inform our Regulatory Framework?
Internal Services conduct activities that support the Regulatory Framework. For example, by increasing the accessibility of data and information through open data sets and user-friendly interfaces. Data projects in data mining, structuring, interaction, and analytics will make information more easily accessible, searchable, and usable for a broader range of users; streamlining regulatory filing systems to improve the CER’s potential for process automation and data analytics; and supporting the implementation of the Diversity and Belonging Roadmap.
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