The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of Alberta’s hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle.
Through the AER’s compliance assurance program, our employees help make sure companies comply with all requirements by conducting around 13 000 inspections annually on Alberta’s oil, natural gas, oil sands, coal, in situ and pipeline activities, exploration activities, in addition to public lands where energy resource activity occurs. AER staff also participate in hundreds of community meetings and discussions with stakeholders each year.
AER field staff live and work in communities across Alberta, from Medicine Hat in the south to High Level in the north and numerous centres in between. Working with technical experts from the AER’s head office in Calgary to serve all of Alberta, the members of our field staff know their neighbours, understand local issues, and can be counted on to respond to your concerns.
More about our approach to community and stakeholder relations can be found in the AER Stakeholder Engagement Framework. This is an internal guiding document that provides AER staff and stakeholders a standard for AER engagement by outlining the scope of engagement activities, as well as principles of engagement that AER staff will adhere to.
The AER Stakeholder Engagement Framework is a guiding document; it’s not a regulatory tool. The framework will change as the AER evolves and incorporates stakeholder feedback. The framework will be updated once the AER receives the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Program on Regulation’s final report on best-in-class regulation, which may include some best practices or recommendations on stakeholder engagement.
Every year, the AER conducts public opinion research to track awareness of the AER and perceptions of our performance, as well as emerging areas of concern among Albertans and stakeholders. We survey and solicit feedback from a number of groups, including indigenous communities, municipalities, landowners, Albertans, and environmental nongovernment organizations (ENGOs).
In 2016, the AER hired a third-party contractor to conduct in-depth focus testing with indigenous communities and ENGOs. The focus testing was intended to help us further understand the test subjects’ perceptions of and opinions about the AER concerning satisfaction, performance, and confidence levels. Our What We Heard: Indigenous and Environmental NGO Focus Testing, 2016 report summarizes our findings.
Voices of Understanding
To be an excellent regulator, we need to work with indigenous communities to find solutions that respect our cultural differences. All voices matter, and indigenous peoples want to hear theirs reflected in our decisions. That’s why we made it our mission to build a new type of working relationship—one based on trust and mutual understanding—and challenged ourselves to look beyond what we know.
From November 2016 till September 2017, we worked with Dr. Reg Crow Shoe, a Blackfoot elder from Piikani Nation, to better understand what that could look like.
With Dr. Crow Shoe’s guidance, we wrote Voices of Understanding: Looking Through the Window, a facilitator’s guide to Blackfoot decision-making circles and ethical spaces where indigenous communities and the AER can work together. The full report includes stories Dr. Crow Shoe shared while working with the AER in addition to an exploration of ethical spaces and western and indigenous worldviews.
Voices of Understanding is also available as an audio file (MP3).