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Harper Government Introduces Legislation to Further Enhance Canada’s World-Class Pipeline Safety System

Press Release

December 8, 2014

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced the introduction of the Pipeline Safety Act. This Act introduces legislative measures to further enhance Canada’s world-class pipeline safety system.

Today’s announcement builds on previous action taken by the Harper Government to prevent incidents, including increasing the number of annual pipeline inspections and audits conducted by the National Energy Board (NEB) and strengthening the Board’s enforcement capabilities by giving it authority to fine pipeline operators for smaller incidents. Currently, 99.999 percent of the oil transported through 73,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipeline is completed safely, including 1,500 kilometres in Quebec.

The Government’s latest measures proposed in the legislation introduced today in the House of Commons include:

  • Introducing absolute liability for all NEB-regulated pipelines, meaning that companies will be liable for costs and damages irrespective of fault — up to $1 billion for major oil pipelines; companies continue to have unlimited liability when at fault or negligent;
  • Providing the NEB authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals; and
  • Providing the NEB authority and resources to assume control of incident response if a company is unable or unwilling to do so (i.e., in exceptional circumstances).

Other non-legislative actions being taken by the Government of Canada include:

  • Developing a strategy with industry and Aboriginal communities in an effort to increase Aboriginal Peoples’ participation in pipeline safety operations, including planning, monitoring, incident response and related employment and business opportunities; and
  • Seeking the NEB’s guidance on the use of the best available technologies used in federally regulated pipeline projects. This includes materials, construction methods and emergency response techniques.

Minister Rickford linked the improvements to pipeline safety to the Government of Canada’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, which strengthens environmental protection, enhances Aboriginal engagement and streamlines the review of major resource projects to make the process more timely and predictable.

These new measures enhance Canada’s already world-class pipeline safety system and build on the principles of incident prevention, preparedness and liability. As part of this commitment, a number of amendments to the National Energy Board Act are also proposed to improve transparency and operations of the Board and its enabling legislation.

Quick Facts

  • Currently, 99.999 percent of the oil transported on federally regulated pipelines is carried out safely, and the measures announced today aim to improve Canada’s record even further.
  • New funding provided in Economic Action Plan 2012 allowed the National Energy Board to increase annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50 percent and double the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada.
  • In the next decade, over 400,000 Aboriginal youth will be entering the workforce, creating an unprecedented opportunity to address the need for new workers in the oil and gas industry.
  • In 2012, more than 13,500 Aboriginal people worked in the Canadian energy sector.


“Our government is committed to enhancing Canada’s world-class pipeline safety system. The new measures announced today demonstrate that we can benefit from resource development while increasing protection of the environment.  Our government is once again demonstrating, through these new measures, its commitment to enhancing Canada’s world-class pipeline safety system while engaging with communities across the country.”

Greg Rickford,
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

Related Products

Backgrounder – Pipeline Safety Act

Associated Links

Pipeline Safety Measures Announcement (2014) –

Pipeline Safety Fact Sheet –

Responsible Resource Development –


Alexandra Lemieux
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

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