Canada Energy Regulator
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Interim Clerk Charette:

The Canada Energy Regulator’s (CER) mission is regulating infrastructure to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of energy to Canada in the world. Our vision is to be an energy regulator with an exemplary workforce that has the confidence of Canadians; is dedicated to ensuring safety and environmental sustainability; builds strong relationships with First Nations, the Métis, and the Inuit; and enhances Canada’s global competitiveness.

I began as CEO of the CER in August 2020 and am proud to lead our nearly 600 employees based in Calgary, Montréal, Vancouver, Yellowknife and elsewhere in Canada. As CEO, making meaningful progress on anti-racism, equity and inclusion is a personal priority. This comes from my fundamental belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and to have a workplace where this is reinforced.

The CER, under the direction and oversight of the Board of Directors and with the advice of the Indigenous Advisory Committee, has given prominence to this work in two of our four Strategic Priorities in our newly-released Strategic Plan: Trust & Confidence and Reconciliation.

We want to ensure both that CER employees share their knowledge and experience openly and transparently, and that our workforce is representative of the diversity of the Canadian population. A diverse workforce will allow us to capitalize on broader perspectives and expertise to improve how we work as a regulator.

We are working towards Reconciliation by transforming the way we work with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, with a commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by enhancing involvement in how we recognize their unique cultures, knowledge and histories; building renewed relationships based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership; improving the cultural competency of the CER and its staff; and driving meaningful change in the CER’s requirements and expectations of regulated industry.

When Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, issued the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service (Clerk’s Call), it helped to further clarify the path we need to follow and aligned with work we have underway. The Clerk’s Call noted the urgency of removing systemic racism and discrimination from the Public Service and the need for concrete actions.

Our senior leadership has focused on ensuring we have the right foundations to support long-term, sustainable change. The Clerk’s Call emphasized the importance of true inclusion, enabling grassroots networks and communities within the Public Service, and the need to inform actions with an awareness of the interconnected dimensions of identity. It asks for meaningful changes and acknowledges that without taking the time to develop them inclusively, our collective success will be hindered. For the CER, we are working to gain a full and honest account of the specific barriers to equity and inclusion faced by those marginalized within our organization. Once people are assured that their voices are being safely heard, we can then move to specific actions to remove those barriers.

More details on our approach are outlined in the annexes to this letter, but below I have highlighted key initiatives underway:

I joined the CER during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had significant impacts for all our employees and Canadians as a whole and has worsened pre-existing marginalization. While we are cautiously optimistic the worst of the pandemic has passed, I can see many of our employees emerging from the past year and a half feeling vulnerable and uncertain.

Transformational change takes concerted effort and significant resources at the best of times and we are moving in the right direction. I am proud to report on our early progress, but I do so with humility, recognizing the significant distance we have yet to travel, the time it will take to ensure our efforts result in meaningful progress, and that we run the risk of perpetuating exclusion and alienation if we race too quickly to celebrate our successes.

The annexes to this letter are specific responses based on the Guidance received. I very much look forward to learning from my colleagues in the Public Service as to their organizational initiatives and approaches. I thank you for offering us this opportunity in this journey to collaborate and contribute to one another’s collective efforts.

Best regards,

Gitane De Silva
Chief Executive Officer

Annex A – Organizational approach and actions

Through 2021, our efforts have been most closely connected to the calls for committing to personally learning about racism, Reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, and fostering a safe, positive environment where these conversations are encouraged throughout our workplaces. We are working to improve inclusion of voices from diverse backgrounds in the identification of systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to inclusion, and the design and implementation of actions to address them. These actions focus on creating a firm foundation for all our employees to move towards a more aware, inclusive, and transformed organization.

Before the Clerk’s Call, two of the CER’s employee-led communities produced analyses of issues within our organization. This showed that being a member of an equity-deserving group affected employees’ individual experiences of our workplace. I note that our definition of equity-deserving group goes beyond the four broad categories in the Employment Equity Act, of Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and women, toinclude members of the LGBTQ2+ community as well.

In 2020, our Diversity and Inclusion Committee analysed the CER’s Public Service Employee Survey data for 2019 and found gaps between employees in and employees not in an equity-deserving group on a number of metrics, including experiences of harassment and discrimination, levels of job satisfaction, accommodations for disabilities and trust in leadership.

Separately, our Women’s Leadership Community of Practice produced a report on gender discrimination, based on work started in 2020. The report highlighted individual employee experiences and suggested a path to addressing discrimination.

The analyses, additional data available to senior leadership, as well as the Clerk’s Call, led CER leadership’s commitment to developing a plan to better embed equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization. This work is being supported by the Diversity and Belonging Team, which was stood up at the end of April 2021. The Diversity and Belonging Team has membership from across the organization and an executive lead who reports to me.

We have engaged external expertise to conduct an intersectional analysis of organizational culture to help the Diversity and Belonging Team deliver a Diversity and Belonging Roadmap. The Roadmap, expected by late fall 2021, will set out an integrated plan for closing the gap in the experiences of people in equity-deserving groups within the CER by addressing issues such as systemic racism, cultural barriers, gender-based discrimination, supports for Indigenous employees, issues faced by persons with disabilities.

We also have a Project Task Force on Gender Discrimination which is led by one of our most senior executives. This team is specifically focused on issues of gender-based discrimination that CER employees may experience while in the office or conducting their external, field-based work activities. This Task Force led the organization in issuing an All-Company letter in which we clarified expectations of conduct in the field to address issues of workplace harassment and discrimination, and its members are working with the Community of Federal Regulators to share best practices and innovations. The Task Force also has additional initiatives underway and coordinates with the Diversity and Belonging Team to make sure work is aligned across the organization.

In 2021, Human Resources launched a Corporate Citizenship Pilot for employee-led communities that have been driving organizational change on a volunteer basis. The Pilot seeks to highlight the time and energy employees are dedicating to this work, help us identify how we can better support them, and to amplify the initiatives they undertake. HR has also initiated workshops on Advancing Racial Equity and Inclusive Leadership, integrated Gender Based Analysis+ planning into both pandemic response and eventual return to office approaches, and begun the process of HR policy renewal with a more explicit focus on Gender Based Analysis+/Equity, Diversity and Inclusion intersectional analysis. Our HR team is also leading work on developing a cultural competence framework to help inform all hiring, promotion and performance management.

In Student Hiring this year, the CER made a specific effort to recruit students of racialized communities, religious minority communities, and/or who are Indigenous. We have been working proactively with post-secondary institutions to identify high potential candidates for summer internships, developing targeted hiring programs through co-op programs and government of Canada programs, and offering training, mentoring and/or coaching for these student employees. Work continues on our commitments to Reconciliation and transforming the way we support our Indigenous employees. In December 2020, we formed the Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Business Unit, dedicated to supporting a renewed approach to working with our Indigenous counterparts externally. In the same year, we established an Indigenous Advisory Committee to advise our Board of Directors and supported the establishment of our Indigenous Employee Circle, and are currently working to finalize our first Indigenous Employee Recruitment, Retention and Advancement Strategy.

The above complements ongoing engagement with the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees and significant policy and program changes, Indigenous cultural competency training for CER staff, and the recent launch of a hiring program focused on recruiting Indigenous Monitors for the CER. As well, in our early return-to-office approach, we worked with our Indigenous Employee Circle to organize a smudging ceremony and prayer with a local Elder to help purify the space.

We also took time this year to implement new physical changes in our Calgary headquarters to make physical improvements to respond to needs of our workforce and external stakeholders, including:

In its adjudicative capacity, the Commission continued to discharge its mandate this year while prioritizing the safety of its regulatory hearing participants by replacing in-person hearings with alternative formats – such as written or virtual proceedings. The Commission recognizes ceremony as an integral part of its processes, and has adapted its procedures in a variety of ways. The Commission also considers Indigenous knowledge and the impact of projects on the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples by incorporating Oral Indigenous Knowledge into the hearing processes and has been working to further deepen and broaden its work in this regard.

Annex B: Challenges, barriers, measurement and results

The most significant challenges are data gaps, the scale of changes required and commensurate need for increased, dedicated resources to fully support organizational change. The continued COVID-19 pandemic presents its own complexities for individual employees and the organization.

The CER’s self-identification datasets are outdated, and significant work had gone into developing our own tailored questionnaire to update them. This work was suspended given the parallel work that Treasury Board Secretariat has initiated and the CER is now waiting to proceed in a coordinated way. We recognized that not all individuals from employment equity-deserving groups have self-identified. This needs to be addressed through appropriate communications tools and ongoing supporting work. The importance of updating self-identification approaches and the related data is crucial. We look forward to adopting and promoting the new Treasury Board Secretariat questionnaire as soon as it becomes available, along with supporting messages to help increase the practice of self-identifying.

We must acknowledge that organizational change can only be enacted through both individual and systemic structural changes. Both take time, resources, and a willingness to engage. We face many competing priorities, and we need to ensure we find the right balance for everyone in the organization as a whole.

Measuring progress on all aspects of our organizational culture highlighted in the nine Calls to Action will be greatly assisted by improving our datasets and ensuring this work is appropriately resourced. It will also become part of every annual assessment of all CER employees’ performance. Once our Diversity and Belonging Roadmap is finalized, we will have a robust set of key performance indictors to measure the CER’s progress on improving the workplace for all employees. As well, the ongoing Public Service Employee Survey datasets will support annual measurement of employee experiences and are already built into the metrics for our Trust & Confidence Strategic Priority.

Annex C: Momentum

Reimagining our workplace post-COVID offers challenges and opportunities. For some individuals, remote work offered new flexibility for their families and better accommodation of disabilities. For others, it exacerbated mental health issues arising from isolation and anxieties. Some reported relief from microaggressions, while others reported fears that remote work may negatively impact their career development. As we navigate the next phase, we plan to incorporate what we have learned and find an approach that prioritizes both employee well-being and enhanced efficiency.

In launching our reflection on the future of our workplace, we conducted a Gender Based Analysis+ assessment by engaging with different employee groups, administrating a survey and reviewing best-practices on flexible work arrangements. Findings confirmed for us the potential for adapting to a more inclusive, reimagined workplace. In October, we will launch a six-month hybrid pilot program as we adapt to a more inclusive workplace emerging from the pandemic. Our planning takes into consideration implementing the Accessible Canada Act, as we look to more fully meet our commitments for employees and our colleagues who live with disabilities.

We will continue to work towards anti-racism, equity and inclusion for many years to come. With the impending release of our Diversity and Belonging Roadmap, our organization will have a clear sense of what is required to embed these changes in our operations. We will measure progress, with new metrics in the Roadmap, year-over-year comparisons of Public Service Employee Survey results, and feedback from ongoing engagement with our employee-led communities.

Annex D: CER employee communities and networks

Employees have generally welcomed the increased focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, but remain cautious concerning the long-term sustainability of momentum and attention on these areas of work.

Our Diversity and Belonging Team is planning specific engagement sessions with employee-led communities. We will also be sending out an organization-wide survey to gauge competency related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and help determine the appropriate scoping of issues and priorities to inform the Roadmap.

Our employee committees are voluntary and employees contribute to them alongside their day-to-day work to deliver on our mandate. Involvement ranges from monthly or bimonthly meetings to more intensive duties associated with leading groups, planning and hosting events, and providing input to the CER on items for consultation.

Note: The CER currently has approximately 545 FTEs


Main Purpose

Approximate Number of  Members

Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Identify, recommend and assist in implementation of strategies, actions and initiatives which help improve employment equity, diversity and inclusion. Diversity & Inclusion Committee Sub-Committees: Cross-Cultural Communication, Employment Equity & Diversity Plan, Indigenous Subcommittee, LGBTQ2+, People with Disabilities, and Systemic Bias.


Indigenous Employee Circle

The Indigenous Employee Circle is meant to be a safe space for self-identifying Indigenous employees to gather. As part of Reconciliation, the CER is looking at how to recognize, encourage and utilize an Indigenous lens to transform our organization and the way we work. Indigenous staff are a key part of this transformation and the Indigenous Employee Circle is a new way to get involved. Through the Indigenous Employee Circle, Indigenous employees can meet, network, collaborate and share their perspectives and insights with each other and the organization.


Indigenous Awareness Group

This is a collection of employees with interest in sharing information about events and news stories of relevance to Indigenous peoples and increasing knowledge of Indigenous life in Canada, in informal ways.    


Indigenous Awareness Project Working Group

Hold internal events and forums to promote and respect Indigenous Peoples’ diverse cultures, unique perspectives, and contributions made to Canada's rich history (past, present, future).  


Women’s Leadership Community of Practice

The Women’s Leadership Community of Practice brings difficult conversations to our organization’s attention to help create an inclusive workplace, collects the data and information required to identify successes and gaps within the CER relating to power dynamics, and identifies and raises awareness of conscious and unconscious biases in the workplace, and advocates for equal opportunity and equivalent outcomes through the development of policies, best practices, recommendations and advice for the organization.


Gender Based Analysis+ Community of Practice

Promotion of the development and sharing of best practice in Gender Based Analysis+ assessment in support of our Core Responsibilities and programs.


Catalysts for Change

The Catalysts are a determined group of CER employees and leaders working together to strengthen the organization. They provoke change across the organization and take action on employee inputs and forums with special attention to the People and Workforce Supports.


Mental Health Committee

The CER's Mental Health Committee's role is to assist with implementing Mental Health Strategy initiatives and to focus on raising awareness and  engagement of CER employees.


Collectif franco

Collectif franco is a cultural group that aims to promote the use of French through exchanges intended to facilitate the retention of previously acquired knowledge for native-born Francophones and/or language learning for those whose mother tongue is not French.


Data Feminism

The purpose of the Data Feminism group is to critically discuss aspects of the CER’s data collection, analysis, use, and communication that relate to cultural and human issues such as justice, equity, objectivity, algorithmic bias, and Gender Based Analysis+.  Data Feminism is about how bias reveals itself in data and how we can work to change that.


Black Employees Network

Under development, informal meetings being held


Annex E: Sample list of 2021 events and trainings hosted or promoted by the CER

i. Staff trainings

Course Name

# Attended

Reflecting on Cultural Bias: Indigenous Perspectives (Note 1)


Understanding Unconscious Bias (Note 1)


Employment Equity under the Employment Equity Act (Note 2)


Bridging the Diversity Gap (Note 2)


Advanced Indigenous Cultural Competency Training (Note 3)


Leading Inclusively and Advancing Racial Equality (ongoing sessions)


Note 1: mandatory Canada School of Public Service training for all employees

Note 2: mandatory Canada School of Public Service training for all hiring managers

Note 3: training designed for directors and vice-presidents

ii. Awareness events hosted by CER



Presenter(s), organization

# of employees attended

January 7, 2021

Blackfoot Confederacy History

Elder Eldon Weaselchild


January 13, 2021

Spirit Readers Indigenous Book Club (Part 2: Chapters 5-10)

Diversity & Inclusion Indigenous Sub-Committee Collaboration


January 21, 2021

The National Inquiry on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

Commissioner Michèle Audette


February 11, 2021

Stoney Nakoda History

Elder Sykes Powderface


February 23, 2021

Spirit Readers Indigenous Book Club (Part 3: Chapters 11-Conclusion)

Diversity & Inclusion Indigenous Sub-Committee Collaboration


March 11, 2021

Tsuut’ina History

Elder Alex Crowchild


March 25, 2021

Panel with Black Executives in the Canadian Public Service

CER Staff

25 attended

June 2, 2021

Kitchen Café on Accessible Canada Act

CER Staff


May 12 and June 3, 2021

Learning Session – Professionals with disabilities at the CER

CER Staff


June 9, 2021

Tokenism and Meaningful Inclusion in the Workplace

CER Staff


June 30, 2021

Queens, Questions and Quesadillas: A Celebration of Pride Month

CER Staff


Throughout 2021

Ombuds Sessions (e.g., Exploring Privilege and Allyship, Understanding microaggressions and fragility)

CER Staff


iii. Events promoted by CER




February 9, 2021

Black History Month - Our Canadian Story: Still on the Frontlines

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

February 10, 2021

From Aspiration to Action: Building an Inclusive Public Service

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

 February 16, 2021

Career Discussions with Newer Black Public Servants

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

 February 16, 2021

Introducing the Canadian Black Scientists Network

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

 February 17, 2021

Systemic Racism Against Black Lives: A Global Pandemic

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

 February 18, 2021

Career Discussions with Senior Black Leadership

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

 February 23, 2021

Anti-Black Racism: Impacts on Mental Health

Canada School of Public Service / Federal Black Employee Caucus

February 2021

Black History Month – Did you know? Moments in Canadian Black History: Weekly Messages to departments

Federal Black Employee Caucus BC Chapter

February 2021

Anti-Black Racism and Systemic Bias through a Black Lens.

Federal Black Employee Caucus BC Chapter/PSPC

February 2021

Managing Mental Health: Addressing Anti-Black racism in federal workplaces. Open Door Event.

Federal Black Employee Caucus BC Chapter/COI-Mental Health

March 25, 2021

Meeting with Black Canadian Federal Public Service Executives – CER Black Employee Network


April 16, 2021

Systemic Racism and the Public Service

Canada School of Public Service

May 5, 2021

Get Real for Mental Health Week

Canada School of Public Service

May 14, 2021

Film Screen: All Our Father’s Relations 

Natural Resources Canada, Virtual Museum of Canada

May 17, 2021

Wellness Support Services for LGBTQ2+employees

Canada School of Public Service

May 25, 2021

History Matters: (Re)building an Anti-Racist Future Panel Discussion

Natural Resources Canada, Virtual Museum of Canada

August 3, 2021

Celebrating Black History and Emancipation Day

Canada School of Public Service

June 1, 2021

National AccessAbility Week/Conference

Canada School of Public Service

Week of August 23, 2021

Events in support of National Public Service Pride Week

Canada School of Public Service and CER

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