National Energy Board introduces rules on treating whistleblower complaints

OTTAWA – The National Energy Board is making it easier for whistleblowers to confidentially report issues at pipelines and facilities under the federal regulator’s watch.

The board announced new procedures Tuesday aimed at revamping the tracking and handling of confidential tips on non-compliance for regulated companies — eventually allowing tipsters to do so online once the system is up and running.

“Protecting the safety of workers, the public and the environment is the National Energy Board’s top priority and we need to know if and when people believe that regulations aren’t being followed,” Peter Watson, the board’s CEO said in a statement.

The NEB dealt with 23 complaints between 2012 and 2015, with 17 of them coming in the latter two years.

Spokesman Marc Drolet said workers can always turn to superiors, but if they don’t feel comfortable or they fear reprisals, they can also turn to the NEB.

“Each complaint is treated very seriously by the board and we investigate each one,” Drolet said.

The Liberal government has promised to restore public confidence in the environmental assessment process.

The NEB is reviewing a number of controversial pipeline projects, including Energy East.

Under the TransCanada (TSX:TRP) proposal, 1.1 million barrels of crude oil would be transported from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in New Brunswick.

The federal cabinet reserves the right to accept or reject a project after receiving recommendations from the NEB.