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The results are in on the AER’s 2017 public opinion research

Alberta - August 27, 2017

We know it matters what people think.

On a daily basis, Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) staff are in contact with people who call Alberta home: landowners, municipalities, industry, indigenous peoples, and environmental nongovernmental organizations, among others. We’re in communities, offices, and on site, monitoring development, reviewing applications, and listening to concerns—but we can’t pat ourselves on the back just for doing our jobs.

As part of our ongoing journey to regulatory excellence, we want to make sure that we’re answering the right questions and addressing the concerns most important to Albertans. To learn what’s on everyone’s minds, we conduct opinion research through an annual survey.

Historically, the AER has surveyed stakeholders and Albertans—but this year, we took things a step further. For the first time since we started our survey in 2001, the AER surveyed Canadians outside of Alberta as well. Conversations about energy development happen from coast to coast, and we need to know what Canadians think of development in Alberta—what they’re concerned about, and what we could be doing better.

Through a series of random telephone interviews and an online panel, we asked 1000 Albertans, 267 stakeholders, and 1500 Canadians to tell us what they think about the AER.

This is what we heard:

  1. We’re making a name for ourselves. While unaided awareness (knowledge of the AER without explicitly mentioning our name) decreased from 12 per cent in 2016 to 8 per cent in 2017, total awareness has held steady, with 50 per cent of Albertans saying that they are aware of the AER. Across Canada, awareness is at 14 per cent but varies by region with stronger awareness in Western Canada.
  2. We’re doing important work. According to Albertans surveyed, all of the AER’s functions are seen as important. Ensuring public safety, ensuring appropriate incident response, protecting the environment, and enforcing the rules continue to be seen as the top priorities. The rest of Canada agreed, ranking our functions in a similar manner.
  3. We’re addressing your concerns. Albertans and stakeholders are concerned about the protection of water and soil, human and animal health, and aging infrastructure—which is consistent with previous years’ data. Stakeholders also told us that they are concerned about water usage by the oil and gas industry, while Canadians had specific concerns about pipeline safety.
  4. We’re taking care of business. Over half of Albertans and stakeholders rank the AER’s performance positively when managing public and pipeline safety.
  5. We’re earning confidence. When asked about our ability to deliver on our mandate, 82 per cent of Albertans and 77 per cent of stakeholders indicated they are confident, with some variation amongst stakeholder groups.

It’s a lot of information, but it’s only the beginning. Where do we go from here?

We’ll use this information in our engagement planning to look for new ways to reach stakeholders and Albertans, and to help us improve the work we’re doing.

Until next year!

Natalie Brodych, Writer