Canada’s National Energy Board faced fresh revelations of collapsing morale and questionable management choices last week, as the National Observer reported on internal surveys of its 500 employees released under access to information requests.
“Internal survey results show bad morale in the workplace and mounting frustrations with management,” the Observer reports. “NEB employees are losing faith in their bosses, and are increasingly frustrated and puzzled by decisions they are instructed to implement.” Barely one-third of employees surveyed agreed that they understood the “reasons for management decisions.”
The autonomous agency spent $21 million in 2013-2014 moving its headquarters a few blocks across downtown Calgary—then another $1 million to refurnish senior executives’ suites. Yet “in its last available annual performance report,” the Observer notes, “the NEB said it had cut its spending on safety oversight such as inspections and the development of regulations by about $17 million in 2014-2015.”
The NEB has been at the centre of a string of negative headlines, some of them for its treatment of whistleblowers from within its ranks. According to a national survey reported earlier by the CBC, more than half of Canadians have little or no confidence in the NEB. The Liberal government has pledged to modernize the agency.
“Critics inside and outside the organization have told National Observer that with public safety at risk, the government should go much further,” writes energy specialist Mike De Souza. “They say it’s time to completely overhaul the NEB, starting with its management.”
The NEB began surveying its employees in 2011. “But the alarming results gathered in 2015 prompted management to cancel the quarterly surveys just as the federal election campaign was getting under way in Canada,” De Souza observes.