RNNR Committee Report
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Canada needs accurate, timely and reliable energy data to support evidence-based conversations, policies and business decisions regarding the energy sector and its impact on the economy, society and environment. Demand for energy data is constantly increasing owing to rapid evolutions in the Canadian energy sector, including the advent and growth of new technologies, Canada’s ongoing transition to a lower-carbon economy, and greater public engagement in energy policy and decision making. Improving the quality of energy data is a national goal, agreed to by all the provinces and territories as part of the Canadian energy strategy in 2015.
Canada has a decentralized energy information system, comprising a broad community of data users and collectors. The federal government alone produces energy data through four different departments or agencies: Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the National Energy Board, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Experts generally agree that the quality of Canada’s national energy information can be improved – namely, in terms of its accessibility, clarity, coherence, comparability, timeliness and completeness. Most concerns appear to stem from insufficient harmonization among the myriad energy data collectors and stakeholders across the country, as well as proprietary and/or confidentiality rules that limit the accessibility or transparency of certain data. In certain industries, some Canadian energy information needs better coverage or granularity, or is lacking completely.
Canada would benefit from a “one-stop shop” where Canadians, industry and policy makers could access detailed regional and national energy information that is accurate, timely, transparent, comprehensive, user-friendly, internally-consistent, free of charge, responsive to the needs of different sectors, and independent of political influence. This goal could be accomplished through existing national data providers, such as Statistics Canada or the National Energy Board, or by creating an entirely new energy information agency that would function independently of government. In either case, reforming Canada’s national energy information system requires significant additional attention from the federal government, in collaboration with industry, academia, civil society, Indigenous governments and communities, and provincial/territorial governments. The federal government needs to focus on producing meaningful and competitive information to support Canada’s rapidly evolving energy sector in a data-driven global economy.