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Good morning Mr. Chairman and committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee.
My name is Charlene Johnson, and I am the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, more commonly known as Noia. Our association represents member companies who are involved in the offshore oil and gas supply and service sector. Noia members are diverse and include those who operate supply vessels and helicopters, human resource agencies, safety and environmental companies, and even those involved in the hospitality industry which receive numerous spinoffs from the offshore.
I appear on behalf of those members to offer comments on Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Offshore Health and Safety Act.
This is my second time speaking with this specific Standing Senate Committee and I admire the great work you have undertaken with respect to Canada’s natural resource sectors.
My remarks today will be brief, as I hope will be the length of time to move forward with changes to offshore healthy and safety regulations.
I commend the Senate for bringing forth this bill and for attempting to advance this process.
The last time I appeared before this committee I spent the majority of my time speaking about competitiveness and timelines. As I appear before you again, my message has not really changed.
The process to institute new Atlantic Occupational Health and Safety Initiative regulations for the offshore has taken far too long. It is another symptom of the disease of delay that has permeated our industry and hindered our growth.
Thankfully, in this current situation, the actions of those involved in the offshore – including offshore operators and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board – coupled with the protections provided by the Atlantic Accord and the Accord Implementation Act, have ensured that safety has remained a priority in the offshore oil and gas industry.
The industry is already carrying on with standards – performance-based standards – and international best practices, to ensure the safety of workers.
While the regulatory process has taken far too long, we have comfort in action taken by all of those who participate in this industry and their commitment to safety. That has been, and I believe will always remain, paramount. However, we need to complete this process, and similar processes, quicker.
To give a quick example of industry safety – which the offshore is a leader of in Newfoundland and Labrador – both Hibernia (our oldest facility) and Hebron (our newest facility) had Lost Time Injury Rates of zero in 2018.
With that said, I would like to point out that the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council was appointed in March, 2019 and to my understanding has been meeting twice a year. The corresponding committee for offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is not yet established.
In the best interest of everyone, this should be corrected as quickly as possible.
The international industry monitors the speed of our processes and protracted delay influences their interest.
Continual delay, inconsistent regulation, and the spectre of ever-changing and ever-moving goal posts impacts decisions to participate and invest in the Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador offshore. We need to overcome this significant hurdle.
In that light, Noia is supportive of efforts to advance and complete this process and supports Bill S-3. Yet, while we need to get this done, it needs to be done right.
We do not wish to see a protracted process, but we do not wish to be back to this process again in short order. Additionally, we need to ensure that the occupational health and safety regulations we enact now avoid unnecessary duplication with other legislation.
And most importantly, we must not lower any standard of health and safety in the offshore.
In essence, and to conclude my remarks, Noia supports the completion of this process in a timely manner, one that includes a holistic approach to offshore regulations and considers the demonstrated commitment of the industry to ensure the safety of each and every individual who works offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
Issued by Noia on February 11, 2021.