Enforcing the Rules
When companies do not meet requirements, we have the authority to take action to bring the company back into compliance so they are operating safely. We have a number of enforcement tools available.
Enforcement actions and tools
How we respond to an issue depends on the issue and the situation. We make sure we enforce requirements in a way that is fair, predictable, consistent, timely, and transparent. Click on each enforcement tool below to learn more about it. For reports on enforcement actions we have taken, see our section on reports about compliance and enforcement. We enforce regulations and requirements in accordance with the CER Enforcement Policy.
Sometimes we’ll notice an issue during an inspection that can be fixed right away. If the issue can be addressed before the inspection officer completes the site inspection (before the close out meeting), we’ll issue a corrected non-compliance. This means that we found an issue during an inspection, but that the company has corrected it.
Notice of Non-Compliance
A notice of non-compliance is essentially the same as a corrected notice of non-compliance. However, while some issues can be addressed quickly and on site before the end of the inspection, others cannot. We might find that companies or their contractors are not following procedures for installing pipelines or for protecting the environment. Or, we keep noticing that issues are not being corrected at all locations.
For these, we’ll typically issue a notice of non-compliance. We will state what we need the company to correct. A company must address the non-compliance by the date we set.
Inspection officer order
An inspection officer order takes enforcement a step further. If a situation requires immediate attention to keep people, property, and the environment safe, we may decide to issue an inspection officer order. The order will require a company to complete certain actions by a set date.
For example, an inspection officer order may require that a company immediately stop an activity. That activity must remain suspended until we can be satisfied that all issues have been addressed. Failure to comply with an inspection officer order is a punishable offence.
Administrative Monetary Penalties
Both companies and individuals can get fined for actions that are unsafe.
We may fine a company or individual if:
- serious harm has been caused or is likely to happen
- the nature and severity of the non-compliance is significant
- we need to escalate to a higher level of enforcement
- we need to change behavior to prevent an issue from happening again
Sometimes, we may decide that it’s important that a senior person in a company is aware of the seriousness of an issue. This person can then take action to stop it from happening again.
A warning letter is also an escalation in enforcement that warns of the steps we’ll take if we see an issue happening again.
Commission order or letter of direction
Stronger and more direct means of enforcement may be needed to get a company to operate safely. For example, we may be having trouble bringing a company into compliance. Or, a serious incident may have happened, one that ended up damaging a pipeline. For safety and to protect the environment, the Commission may issue an order to ensure necessary pressure restrictions are in place until the pipeline can be fixed.
An order or direction from the Commission will state what a company must do to address a noncompliance or a specific safety or environmental concern. Failure to comply is a punishable offence.
Revoking or suspending authorizations
We have the authority to take away or suspend a company’s authorization, in whole or in part, if we’ve lost confidence in its ability to operate in a way that protects people and the environment. We are also able to do this if a company has not complied with a term or condition of a certificate, permit, or operating licence.
We hold a hearing with companies to hear from all parties before making such a decision. Any decision made to revoke or suspend an authorization would come from the Commission as an order after the hearing and decision has been made.
Prosecution and court
Companies can be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both if they’ve been negligent or have intentionally and repeatedly taken actions that have caused or could lead to serious harm.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is responsible for prosecuting offences of the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, COGOA, OGOA, and any regulations under these acts, with the assistance of CER investigators.
Learn more about the regulations we enforce
Our mandate to oversee the safe and secure development of energy in Canada is carried out under a number of different acts and regulations. These same acts and regulations, along with the requirements and guidance developed under them, are what companies must follow and what we have a responsibility to uphold.
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