Thank you so much, Chair and committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to address this committee today.
My name is Charlene Johnson. I am the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, more commonly known as Noia.
Our association represents member companies that are involved in the offshore oil and gas supply and service sector. Noia members are very diverse. They include those who operate supply vessels and helicopters, human resource agencies, safety and environmental companies and even those involved in the hospitality industry, which also receives numerous spinoffs from the offshore here.
I appear on behalf of those members to offer my comments on Bill S-3, an act to amend the Offshore Health and Safety Act.
This is my second time speaking with the natural resources parliamentary committee about this issue, and I certainly thank you for the opportunity. My remarks are reflective of my comments when I presented to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources back in February.
I would like to note that Noia was appreciative of the actions of the Senate and similarly appreciative of the Department of Natural Resources for acting quickly upon the Senate passing the bill and providing an opportunity for Noia to provide comments on new regulations. This is exactly the type of expediency we were hoping for, and I hope the legislation and regulations can be passed and enacted before the end of the calendar year.
Noia has spoken a lot, including to many federal officials, about competitiveness and timelines. As I appear before you, my message remains the same. 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 performance-based standards and international best practices to ensure the safety of workers. While the regulatory process has taken 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 more quickly.
To give a quick example of industry safety, which the offshore is a leader of in Newfoundland and Labrador, both Hibernia, the oldest facility, and Hebron, our newest facility, had loss-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 ever changing and ever moving goalposts impact decisions to participate and invest in the Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador offshore. We need to overcome these significant hurdles.
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 also do not wish to be back to this process again in short order. I believe the process undertaken by NRCan in the last two months can accomplish just that.
Additionally, we need to ensure that the occupational health and safety regulations we enact now avoid unnecessary duplication with other legislation. 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 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Thank you, and thank you again for your time.