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Section II

Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

2.1 Strategic Outcome

Safe and secure pipelines and power lines built and operated in a manner that protects the environment and enables efficient markets.

The NEB operates and delivers its programs within a framework of five integrated goals:

  • NEB-regulated facilities and activities are safe and secure, and are perceived to be so.
  • NEB-regulated facilities are built and operated in a manner that protects the environment.
  • Canadians benefit from efficient energy infrastructure and markets.
  • The rights and interests of those affected by NEB-regulated facilities and activities are respected.
  • The NEB delivers quality outcomes through innovation and leadership.

These goals provide the framework for the NEB to achieve its strategic outcome. The goals also identify expected results for the NEB program activities and have related measures and targets.

The NEB’s Strategic Plan outlines the NEB’s vision and purpose, and provides the structure for the goals framework. More information on the Strategic Plan and NEB service standards is available on the NEB’s website (www.neb-one.gc.ca).

2.2 Program Activity: Energy Regulation

The Energy Regulation Program provides the Canadian public, project proponents and other government agencies with regulation of international and designated interprovincial power lines; construction, operations, and tolls and tariffs on international and interprovincial pipelines; energy trade; and exploration and development in certain frontier and offshore areas. The companies that are regulated by the Board create wealth for Canadians through the transport of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, and through the export of hydrocarbons and electricity. As a regulatory agency, the Board’s role is to help create a framework which allows these economic activities to occur when they are in the public interest7.

Program Activity: Energy Regulation
2009–10 Financial Resources ($ millions) 2009–10 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
Planned Actual Difference
20.7 33.1 29.1 179.7 180.85 +1.15
Energy Regulation
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Performance Summary
NEB-regulated facilities and activities are safe and secure, and are perceived to be so Companies have adequate and effectively implemented safety, integrity and environmental management systems and programs 100% of companies regulated by the NEB have safety, integrity and environmental systems and programs in place Not Met

Two audits completed and two audits deferred as audit procedures are under review. Performance improved from last year with the average number of findings per audit in 2009-10 showing a decrease of 66% from previous years.

Percent of planned compliance activities completed 100% of planned compliance activities are completed Mostly Met

90% of planned activities were completed. Completed planned activities by management area: Emergency Management 88%, Pipeline Integrity 87%, Safety 89% and Security 100%. The NEB was not able to complete all planned work due to reallocation of resources to construction activities and incident investigations.

Public perception of pipeline safety (assessed through a survey to be conducted every three years) Establish a baseline for the level of public perception of pipeline safety Not Measured

The Board deferred its planned stakeholder survey until 2010-11 to allow time for the implementation of Land Matters Consultation Initiative (LMCI) recommendations. Therefore, data to support this measure is not available.

NEB regulated facilities are built and operated in a manner that protects the environment

 

Percent of planned environmental compliance activities completed 100% of planned compliance activities are completed Met All

100% of planned environmental compliance activities were completed.

Public satisfaction with environmental protection (assessed through a survey to be conducted every three years) Establish a baseline for the level of public satisfaction with environmental protection for activity related to energy infrastructure development Not Measured

The Board deferred its planned stakeholder survey until 2010-11 to allow time for the implementation of LMCI recommendations. Therefore, data to support this measure is not available.

Canadians benefit from efficient energy infrastructure and markets The Board’s regulatory processes are measurably efficient and effective All NEB service standards for its regulatory services are met (service standards are available on the NEB website at: www.neb-one.gc.ca) Mostly Met

90% of service standards met. Details on service standard performance are provided in Section III.

Percent of planned financial regulatory audits completed 100% of planned financial regulatory audits are completed Met All

100% of planned financial regulatory audits were completed.

The rights and interests of those affected by NEB-regulated facilities and activities are respected Stakeholders are satisfied with NEB processes, information and interaction Majority of stakeholders are satisfied with NEB processes, information and interaction Not Measured

The Board deferred its planned stakeholder survey until 2010-11 to allow time for the implementation of LMCI recommendations. Therefore, data to support this measure is not available.

Benefits for Canadians

This program activity provides Canadians with regulation of international and interprovincial pipelines, international power lines, energy development and trade. The regulatory framework focuses on ensuring Canadians have safe, secure and economically efficient energy infrastructure that is built and operated in a manner that protects the environment. The NEB contributes to Canada’s energy future by creating a regulatory framework that integrates economic, environmental and social dimensions of the facilities and the activities it regulates in the public interest. This framework enables procedural fairness and effective regulatory processes. It provides expectations for the regulated industry through an approach which combines prescriptive elements and specific outcomes that are goal-based and encourage innovation.

Federally-regulated systems transported nearly $75 billion of energy in 2009 to markets in Canada and elsewhere. Federally-regulated companies create wealth for Canadians through jobs, taxes and the export of hydrocarbons and electricity. The Canadian energy industry accounted for 6.7 per cent of Canada’s GDP in 2009. In 2009, the revenue generated from energy exports from Canada totalled $81 billion and accounted for 22 per cent of total Canadian export revenue.

Performance Analysis

The NEB analyzes its performance and progress toward its Strategic Outcome by evaluating the results of its performance measures and planned objectives described in the 2009-2010 Report on Plans and Priorities and the circumstances influencing these results.

Safety and the Environment

The safety of the public and the people who build and operate pipelines regulated by the NEB and the protection of the environment is of paramount importance to the Board. The NEB continually looks for ways to improve the safety performance of the federal pipeline industry so that incidents and injuries are minimized. The Board uses a risk-based approach to regulation to focus on companies requiring higher levels of regulatory compliance oversight. The NEB takes a proactive approach to addressing its concerns including clarifying expectations through updated regulations; sharing trends and learnings; building an effective reporting structure for safety and pipeline integrity information; and, where necessary, issuing safety and other orders. The Board asks companies to share their performance data related to occupational injuries, leaks and spills. The Board has a comprehensive field oversight program which includes inspections and audits of facilities under construction and in operation. Companies are required to report all incidents as defined in the NEB’s regulations. This data is used by the NEB to analyze individual, as well as, industry performance.

Overall, the pipeline industry continues to be a safe mode of transportation for the delivery of energy to Canadians.

  • There were three disabling injuries on NEB regulated pipelines in 2009-10, which is a decrease from ten in 2008-09;
  • There were four pipeline ruptures in 2009-10, which is an increase from one rupture in 2008-09;
  • There were 157 incidents, such as worker injuries, unintended gas leaks and pipeline ruptures in 2009-10. This is a 24 per cent increase from the previous year. There were 145 crossing violations, which is comparable to 2008-09;
  • There were two major oil releases (greater than 100m) in 2009-10, which is up from zero major oil releases in 2008-09. There were 55 natural gas releases in 2009-10, which is up from ten the previous year;
  • There were nine releases of 100L or more of hydrocarbons or other contaminants reported under the COGO Act (from oil and gas exploration and production facilities located in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut), which is a 22 per cent increase over the previous year; and
  • There were three minor oil releases (between 1.5m and 100m) in 2009-10, which is a decrease from 14 in 2008-09.

Due to increased regulatory oversight and improved safety and integrity management systems, there has been an increase in reporting from companies on incidents and issues, especially unintended gas releases and high-pressure incidents. The transfer of jurisdiction of the NGTL system to the NEB increased the length of pipeline being monitored by the NEB by nearly 24,500 km. This led to more incidents being reported, but on a normalized basis when considering worker hours and pipeline kilometres, the rate of incidents did not change.

Building a Safety Culture

The increase in some types of incidents in 2009-10 has highlighted the need for an in-depth analysis of their root causes. This analysis will identify underlying trends and provide the basis for future actions required to make the pipeline industry continually safer. The Board will also review whether its regulations continue to provide the best regulatory framework for improved safety performance.

Work was initiated in 2009-10 on a mandatory reporting structure for safety and integrity data. This will improve reporting by federally-regulated pipeline companies by focusing on performance leading indicators and will help to further enhance pipeline safety and integrity. A project was also initiated in 2009-10 to develop an information system to support the NEB’s continued progression toward a risk-based lifecycle approach to the regulation of energy infrastructure. An initial feasibility assessment showed that some of the NEB’s processes were not sufficiently developed to be automated at that time. During the fiscal year, documentation of the NEB’s compliance verification processes was substantively completed; however, development of the information system has been deferred due to a shift in priorities. A revised feasibility study of the information system project is planned for 2010.

The NEB’s commitment to regulatory oversight applies to the entire lifecycle of a pipeline or facility, from application to abandonment. Compliance activities allow the NEB to assess the level of risk associated with a facility as well as the company’s performance in managing risk during construction, operation and abandonment. Compliance activities are another way the NEB influences positive outcomes in safety, security and the environment. In 2009-10, the NEB completed 90 per cent of its planned compliance activities related to safety, security, integrity, and emergency management and 100 per cent of its planned environmental compliance activities. In addition to planned activities, 51 unplanned compliance activities, such as incident investigations and audit follow-ups, were conducted in response to arising issues. Planned compliance activities not completed in 2009-10 are included in the NEB’s 2010-11 compliance work plan.

In addition to its compliance verification and monitoring activities, the NEB conducted a number of outreach activities, including a public forum on pipeline safety in May 2009. This event provided companies, consultants and the public with current information on safety, regulatory initiatives and compliance requirements. Over 300 people attended the one and a half day forum, where the Board presented information on over 20 topics.

In 2009-10, the NEB initiated work to focus on reducing pipeline crossing violations. This work includes increased enforcement of crossing regulations and providing a stronger presence on the Canadian Common Ground Alliance, a not-for-profit association which works toward ongoing development and promotion of industry best practices to protect the public and the environment from damage to underground infrastructure. The NEB also created a Damage Prevention program in response to increased reports of unauthorized crossing activities. During the year, NEB inspectors conducted inspections on rights of way across most of Canada. The Damage Prevention program is proactive, geographically focused and inclusive of all involved, with special emphasis on education and stakeholder engagement.

The NEB’s safety program also includes pipeline security. In 2009-10, the Board enhanced its focus on security through the completion of a new Canadian Standards Association standard (CSA Z246.01-09), Security Management for Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry System. This standard will assist the energy industry in developing and implementing security management programs. In support of the new standard, the Board issued a Notice of Proposed Regulatory Change in November 2009. This proposed amendment to the Onshore Pipeline Regulations, 1999 and the Processing Plant Regulations will require companies to have a Security Management Program that meets the requirements of the new standard.

Protecting the Environment

The NEB takes a lifecycle approach to the management of environmental issues throughout all phases of a regulated facility including the planning and application phase, the application assessment and public hearing phase, the construction and post construction phase, the operations and maintenance phase, and the abandonment phase. In 2009-10, the Board initiated a project to better communicate to the public the types of reclamation activities that are taking place on pipeline rights of way and how the NEB is working to minimize environmental impacts. The Board will enhance its website information on environmental protection in 2010-11.

The NEB also continued to build on relationships established with Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs). NEB staff met with a number of ENGOs to enhance the Board’s understanding of their concerns and to help them better understand the NEB’s mandate and regulatory processes. The NEB has committed to these ENGOs to enhance the flow of information from the Board and to consult with them more effectively on the NEB’s Energy Information Program.

Respecting the Rights and Interests of those Affected

The NEB is committed to extending its risk-based lifecycle management system for safety, security and protecting the environment to encompass the rights and interests of those affected by NEB-regulated facilities and activities. To this end, the Board conducted a major initiative, the LMCI, in 2008-09. The LMCI provided a forum for discussion on land matters to improve understanding of issues and to identify new ways to incorporate these issues into the NEB’s public interest considerations. Following the consultation process, the Board released an action plan outlining how concerns raised during consultations will be addressed. Implementation of this plan will continue in 2010-11.

In 2009-10, the NEB provided regulatory clarification on the financial treatment of pipeline abandonment costs and developed a corresponding workshop. The Board established a multi-stakeholder working group to develop additional guidance on crossings to support safety and security of pipelines. The Board also developed and published physical abandonment principles. Board staff met with landowners, Aboriginal groups, special interest groups and other stakeholders more than ever before. For example, community visits took place months before project applications were filed, the NEB proactively identified community initiatives to attend, and the Board responded to invitations for community events. Additionally, communications tools and processes were updated with a focus on improving company interactions with landowners and improving the accessibility of NEB processes.

Promoting Effective Engagement

The NEB is committed to ensuring that appropriate engagement is carried out for projects where there is a potential impact to the rights and interests of Aboriginal groups. In line with the federal government’s Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) initiative, the NEB implemented its Enhanced Aboriginal Engagement program, an extension to the work of its existing Aboriginal Engagement program. The program helps identify and remove barriers to Aboriginal groups’ participation in NEB proceedings. The Enhanced Aboriginal Engagement program was successfully implemented for the Keystone XL, NGTL Groundbirch, and NGTL Horn River projects and is expected to be significantly used for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

In 2009-10, a major breakthrough was made on participant funding. Participant funding provisions have been added to the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act) through the Budget Implementation Act introduced in March 2010. The NEB’s Participant Funding Program (PFP) will provide financial assistance to support the engagement of Aboriginal groups, landowners, not-for-profit organizations and other eligible persons in the regulatory assessment processes for major facility projects. The NEB's PFP will apply to public hearing processes for major energy projects within its jurisdiction. In past years, a lack of participant funding for facility hearings has been cited as an obstacle to the accessibility of NEB processes. The program will be modeled after the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency program.

Efficient Energy Infrastructure and Markets

The NEB promotes efficient energy infrastructure and markets by regulating international and interprovincial pipeline and electrical transmission facilities, pipeline tolls and tariffs, and energy imports and exports. The NEB continually monitors the effectiveness and efficiency of its regulatory processes. One way the Board does this is through service standards that identify specific delivery timelines for key services. Meeting service standard targets consistently and with quality results reflects the NEB’s commitment to efficient and effective regulatory processes.

For natural gas and oil pipeline transportation systems to work well there must be adequate pipeline capacity to move products to consumers. Capacity utilization indicators show that there was more than adequate gas pipeline capacity in 2009-10. Periods of apportionment on some oil pipeline systems indicate that overall oil pipeline capacity remained tight. Additional capacity from the completion of oil pipelines under construction in 2010 will alleviate constraints on oil pipelines.

Pipeline companies must also have adequate financial strength to attract capital on terms that allow them to build needed infrastructure, maintain the safety and environmental integrity of their systems and provide services at a reasonable cost to their customers. The NEB-regulated pipeline sector in 2009-10 was financially sound. Credit ratings continued to be investment grade and companies which raised capital did so on reasonable terms.

The basis of the NEB’s approach for authorizing exports is to determine that exports of gas are surplus to Canadian requirements and, in the case of electricity exports, Canadians have access to Canadian-produced energy commodities on terms and conditions at least as favourable as those available to export buyers. To evaluate this, the NEB monitors the market and reports on its findings. In 2009-10, Canadian market prices remained well connected to North American prices, indicating that Canadian exports are surplus to requirements and that Canadians paid fair market prices for oil, natural gas and electricity.

Shipper satisfaction with the services provided by pipeline companies was not measured in 2009-10, as the Pipeline Services Survey was not conducted due to shipper feedback that an annual survey was not warranted. This biennial survey is planned to occur again in 2010-11.

The NEB met most of its service standards this year. Where the Board did not meet its expectations, the processes and resource allocations were reviewed to ensure future success. A report on 2009-10 service standard results is provided in Section III.

Regulatory Initiatives

The NEB’s expertise in safety, environmental protection and economic regulation, combined with the knowledge and experience of Canadians living in the North, can make a significant contribution to ensuring northern energy projects are considered and developed in a sustainable and timely way. To further this goal, 2009-10 was a year of relationship building in the North. In 2009, NEB Chair, Gaétan Caron, and some NEB staff travelled to Cambridge Bay and Iqualuit. During these visits, the Chair and staff met with various organizations to gain a better understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities in the North and to identify ways these organizations could work together to coordinate an approach to future oil and gas development in the North. The groundwork was laid to ensure preparedness for future northern development. As well, a Northern Action and Resource Plan was completed, which identified actions that will be incorporated into the NEB’s 2010-11 work plan. In 2010-11, the NEB will support Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Natural Resources Canada in improving the legislative framework in the North.

Building on previous work, the NEB launched internet-based applications for the export of crude oil, electricity, natural gas and/or natural gas liquids and the import of natural gas. The online system improves the efficiency of the regulatory process and simplifies the application assessment process. The Board also provided better information to potential applicants on the filing requirements related to these applications.

Amendments to the Cost Recovery Regulations affecting the electricity industry came into effect in 2010. These amendments are designed to ensure a more equitable recovery of costs from the electricity industry and to improve the clarity and effectiveness of the cost recovery system. Costs previously recovered from electricity exporters will now instead be recovered from NEB-regulated power line companies.

In 2009, the NEB continued to pursue funding to convert the paper and microfiche records of seismic information and well logs currently held by the NEB’s Frontier Information Office into a digital format. This data conversion will support enhanced use by energy companies conducting exploration in the North.

Approximately 400,000 essential record images were converted to digital format in 2009-10. These include Board Orders dating to 1959, NGTL data received from the Alberta Utilities Commission and the Energy Resources Conservation Board as part of the jurisdictional change, and information about the Northern Pipeline Agency - Foothills Pipeline. The essential record conversion is on-going and will continue in 2010-11.

In 2009-10, a new initiative was introduced that will streamline regulatory processes and support positive environmental outcomes. In the 2010 federal budget, the NEB received legislative authority to establish a PFP under the NEB Act. The new Participant Funding amendment, with existing substitution provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEA Act), will allow the NEB to deliver environmental assessments for projects within its jurisdiction that normally would have been assessed by a joint review panel established under the CEA Act.

In 2009, the NEB signed four Project Agreements coordinated by the MPMO (Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway, NGTL Groundbirch, and NGTL Horn River). Keystone XL and NGTL Groundbirch were completed in 2009-10. By working with the MPMO, the NEB is helping to ensure a clear, consistent and coordinated federal approach to the review of major resource projects.

Another successful partnership initiative completed in 2009-10 resulted in the promulgation of the Canada Oil and Gas Drilling and Production Regulations on December 31, 2009. This is the first goal-oriented, multi-jurisdictional regulation to be developed in Canada. The NEB partnered with the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and three governments to improve the regulatory framework to ensure safe and environmentally-sound regulated facilities and activities related to frontier and offshore oil and gas exploration and development.

Lessons Learned

After a period of low and declining incident rates, the number of safety issues recently has increased. The cause(s) of this increase must be determined and addressed. The Board will be focussing on this in the coming years with the intent of improving the safety and environmental performance of federally-regulated pipelines.

The transfer of jurisdiction of the NGTL system to the NEB highlighted the importance for the NEB to be able to effectively prepare itself for workload fluctuations and maintain its flexibility to efficiently respond to applications and other regulatory issues. To ensure this, the NEB will continue to improve its planning and resourcing of activities as well as continue to promote knowledge sharing and development.

In 2009-10, the NEB continued to improve its efforts to respect the rights and interests of those affected by NEB-regulated facilities and activities. The Board has taken a number of steps to improve its engagement activities and to include groups previously not easily involved in regulatory proceedings (e.g., LMCI). Into the future, the NEB must continue to enhance and broaden its mechanisms for stakeholder engagement, involvement and feedback. An example of this will be a new participant funding program which will allow the public to access resources to support their timely and meaningful participation in the regulatory decisions that affect them.

2.3 Program Activity: Energy Information

The program provides the Board, industry, policy makers, and the Canadian public with energy industry information and market surveillance, including the outlook for supply and demand of energy commodities in Canada, to assist in decision making regarding energy infrastructure and markets. This program meets requirements under Part II of the NEB Act by informing Canadians on energy market developments and issues related to the Board’s regulatory mandate, which are primarily in the gas, oil and electricity market sectors, and under Part VI of the NEB Act by providing market analysis to determine whether Canadians are able to access energy at fair market prices.

Program Activity: Energy Information
2009–10 Financial Resources ($ millions) 2009–10 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
Planned Actual Difference
7.3 7.5 6.8 42 35.01 -6.99
Energy Information
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Performance Summary
Canadians benefit from efficient energy infrastructure and markets

The Board’s advice and energy information products are relevant and timely

Assessed via feedback from internal and external clients on Energy Information Program products via questionnaires after workshops, comments cards with publications, interviews with clients
Majority of feedback shows that Energy Information Program clients find products useful and relevant Not Measured

No formal measures or surveys were done in 2009-10. The measurement framework is under re-development.

NEB website provides timely and relevant energy market information Meet or exceed visits to content on the NEB website from previous year Not Measured

Technical difficulties did not allow tracking of web visits for 2009-10. A new web tracking tool has been implemented.

Benefits for Canadians

Providing energy advice, information and market monitoring contributes to Canada’s pursuit of a sustainable energy future by allowing policy makers, industry and the Canadian public to have access to expert knowledge and energy market information so they can make informed choices about energy options. This program focuses on providing Canadians with information that is timely, objective and relevant. Through its monitoring of energy exports, the Board determines whether Canadian energy users have access to domestically-produced energy on terms and conditions at least as favourable as those available to export buyers and assesses whether energy markets are functioning properly.

Performance Analysis

The NEB collects and analyzes information about Canadian energy markets through regulatory processes and market monitoring to support the Board’s regulatory program, and to provide public information that helps policy makers, industry and Canadians make informed decisions. In 2009-10, the Energy Information Program (EIP) continued to grow and improve. During the year, the NEB published and distributed five Energy Market Assessments, including an updated reference case analysis from Canada’s Energy Future: Reference Case and Scenarios to 2030; three Energy Briefing Notes; and Summer and Winter Energy Outlooks. The Board also updated the energy pricing information on the NEB’s website and introduced RSS feeds to keep stakeholders better informed. As well, the NEB organized and hosted the 2010 Energy Futures Conference. Client feedback from the conference was positive with 96% of participants surveyed strongly agreeing or agreeing that the information presented was of interest and relevance. Due to technical difficulties, the NEB was unable to track visits to its website in 2009-10; however, a new web visit tracking tool has been implemented.

The NEB worked with other departments in the Canadian government to improve the quality of energy data available to Canadians through the Joint Data Initiative. The Board also has a program to convert the gathering of export and import data to online systems. This work was placed on hold due to resource constraints in 2009 and is set to resume in 2010.

Lessons Learned

In 2009-10, the EIP continued to provide timely and relevant energy information to Canadians. A major focus for the year was making information products more accessible through the better use of plain language and web-releasing publications. This approach must continue into the future with the goal of improving access to EIP products through better format, plain language, relevant content and modern delivery mechanisms. Further, new measures and means of assessing client satisfaction with the NEB’s energy information products and workshops are required to ensure that the program continues to effectively inform the public and government on key energy matters.

2.4 Program Activity: Internal Services

Internal Services are groups of related activities and resources that are administered to support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of an organization. These groups are: Management and Oversight Services; Communications Services; Legal Services; Human Resources Management Services; Financial Management Services; Information Management Services; Information Technology Services; Real Property Services; Materiel Services; Acquisition Services; and Travel and Other Administrative Services. Internal Services include only those activities and resources that apply across an organization and not to those provided specifically to a program.

Program Activity: Internal Services
2009–10 Financial Resources ($ millions) 2009–10 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
Planned Actual Difference
16.4 23.2 20.3 125.9 161.57 +35.67

Performance Analysis

Innovative Leadership and Effective Support Processes

The NEB’s Internal Services program requires sound business management and effective decision-making to ensure that the organization has the people, business processes, technologies, facilities and financial resources available to carry out its mandate.

Resource Capacity to Fulfil the NEB Mandate

Despite the economic downturn, 2009-10 was an extremely busy year at the NEB. The downturn somewhat reduced the competition in the Calgary labour market and enabled the NEB to increase its permanent staffing levels. The NEB hired 52 full-time employees in 2009-10, representing 15 per cent of its total FTE complement by the end of the year. These employees were hired to meet the Board’s growing workload as a result of increased regulatory obligations and to fill existing vacancies. Overall, the NEB is well-staffed to deliver on its mandate.

In 2009, the NEB implemented a new People Strategy, which is a cornerstone of its attraction and retention strategy. The People Strategy is aimed at maximizing employee engagement at the NEB, thereby maximizing staff’s contribution to the NEB’s goals. The People Strategy comprises six commitments to staff in return for their commitment to produce results for the NEB. These commitments include support for professional learning and development; a commitment to providing an appropriate work/life balance for all employees; effective leadership; a competitive compensation package; a supportive and inclusive work place; and a commitment to provide interesting and challenging work. A number of initiatives support each of the commitments in the People Strategy.

To assess the effectiveness of the NEB’s People Strategy, regular employee feedback is solicited. In 2010, an internal survey was conducted to measure employee satisfaction with workplace conditions and an external survey was conducted by Towers Perrin. The external survey showed that the NEB has significantly higher employee engagement scores compared to Canadian averages. The internal survey showed that 92 per cent of employees agree that the NEB is “a good place to work.” This was higher than the NEB’s target of 85 per cent. The NEB’s attrition rate dropped in 2009-10 by 2.43 per cent to 9.54 per cent for the year. The NEB was also recognized as one of Alberta’s Top 50 Employers for 2010 as assessed in an independent review by a major media organization.

Learning and Development

Considerable expertise is required throughout the organization to carry out the NEB’s mandate. To support knowledge acquisition and transfer, time and resources were invested in 2008-09 to develop a comprehensive learning and development program. In 2009-10, the Board finished defining and began implementing its learning and development framework. The program encompasses formal and informal learning opportunities such as classroom and web-based training, job-shadowing, coaching/mentoring, and a new emerging leaders development program.

Improving Corporate Effectiveness

Building a results-based culture is key to achieving the NEB’s commitments. The NEB’s ISO-based Quality Management System (QMS) promotes a cycle of continuous improvement for the organization. Through the consistent documentation, use and evaluation of processes, the NEB can better understand and assess where process improvements should be made. Although the Board continued to implement and make use of the system in 2009-10, greater focus will be applied in the coming year to ensure that all processes meet baseline requirements of the QMS. Communication, training and ongoing process management support is required to integrate the principles of quality management throughout the organization and to elevate the understanding of quality management and its contribution to achieving quality regulatory outcomes.

In 2009-10, a business continuity plan was developed and implemented in accordance with the recommendations from the 2008 Management Accountability Framework (MAF) assessment. The MAF assessment also identified that financial management should be improved. Financial accounting and management processes were incorporated into the QMS and exceed baseline standards. Financial processes were also more closely aligned to planning and reporting processes. Human Resources processes were also incorporated into the QMS in 2009-10.

Information systems are critical in ensuring regulatory effectiveness in line with the Board’s risk-based approach and to manage program records efficiently. This year, the NEB completed its three-year implementation plan for the Records, Document and Information Management System as part of its Information Management Renewal Plan.

Lessons Learned

Over the past few years, the NEB suffered from significant attrition largely due to the challenge of competing for staff in a booming Calgary marketplace. While the NEB successfully hired 52 new people, the organization was unable to fill an additional 56 positions in a timely manner. This resulted in reduced organizational effectiveness and the addition of significant staffing, orientation and training costs.

Into the future, the NEB must work proactively and creatively to ensure it has the ability to successfully retain and attract high quality staff in a competitive market place. One way in which the NEB will do so is through the continued implementation of its People Strategy. While the People Strategy is only one year old, the NEB is confident that it is working, as shown by high employee engagement scores. The NEB will continue to pursue its People Strategy to ensure it has the motivated and knowledgeable staff required to deliver high quality results for both the NEB and the Canadian public.