Community and Stakeholder Relations

Syncrude aims to earn and maintain public confidence through effective engagement with stakeholders and communities of interest.

Our Performance

Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 2

Over $6 million invested

in community projects and initiatives.

Consultation continues on proposed

Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project.

Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 1
Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 3

Stakeholder relations policy

undergoes review and update.

Our Approach

We seek ideas, input and feedback from our communities of interest in a manner that fosters cooperation and trust. We are committed to ensuring our employees fully understand our goals, plans and performance, and the role they play in our success. We also contribute to projects that promote growth and well-being, and enhance the quality of life where we live and work.

Stakeholders and communities of interest include (in alphabetical order):

  • Academia
  • Employees
  • First Nations – Local
  • Métis Locals
  • Governments – Local, Provincial and Federal
  • Industry Associations
  • Syncrude Project Joint Venture Participants
  • Suppliers and contractors
  • Wood Buffalo residents and other Albertans

Gauging Effectiveness

The effectiveness of our stakeholder relations is stewarded at the executive level and assessed through internal and external audits. In addition, we subscribe to the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining protocol for Aboriginal and Community Outreach. This includes an internal assessment of our performance each year, and external third-party verification, including stakeholder interviews, of this assessment every three years. Results are published annually on the MAC website.

Examples of Syncrude’s direct engagement with stakeholders are referred to throughout this report.

Stakeholder and Community Engagement

Stakeholder Management Cycle

Stakeholder Relations Policy Update

Syncrude’s stakeholder relations policy was updated in 2015 to ensure its relevancy to corporate sustainability efforts and increasing societal expectations. Through both internal and external-led reviews, recommendations were made to ensure continued consistency with Syncrude’s Vision and Values and Ethics policy, and to more clearly address human rights as defined under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act, and reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The revised policy can be viewed on our website.

Mildred Lake Extension Project

During 2015, Syncrude engaged with five First Nations and three Metis locals affected by our proposed Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project, which was first announced in 2012, and for which a regulatory application was filed in late 2014. We provided the affected communities with an overview of the project, and are reviewing and responding to statements of concern. Discussions about the manner in which the communities wish to be consulted also occurred. Refer to the Aboriginal Relations chapter for further information on MLX consultation.

Oil Sands Community Alliance

Through our involvement in the Oil Sands Community Alliance, Syncrude continued in 2015 to support this industry-funded group in its work to manage the socio-economic impacts of oil sands development. OSCA focus areas include Aboriginal Community Relations, Community Well-Being, Infrastructure and Workforce. Work is stewarded by the OSCA Steering Group, and by committees and task groups that focus on community well-being and Aboriginal community relations, as well as various infrastructure matters. Syncrude employees serve at each level.

In 2015, OSCA established a joint initiative project to provide funding and work with Fuse Social, an organization which provides capacity support to the local social profit sector, on the Wood Buffalo Strategy Roadmap project. The roadmap will help to identify opportunities for multi-sector collaboration, collective impact and social innovation; recognize areas where duplication of programs and services is occurring; and assist in measuring community progress on key issues.

Community and Stakeholder Relations

Tours and Social Media

Towards enhancing transparency about our operations, Syncrude welcomed more than 550 tour visitors to our sites in 2015. Our visitors represented the worlds of politics, media, education, environment and labour, and met with employees from across the company as they learned how we mine oil sand, extract bitumen, upgrade it into crude oil and then reclaim the land we disturb.

Syncrude is also becoming more active at engagement through social media channels, such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn. In 2015, we expanded our presence into Instagram, where we share photographs and videos of our operations and community activities.

Political Contributions

In mid 2015, the Alberta Legislature passed Bill 1, An Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta, which bans corporate and union donations to political parties. Only residents of Alberta are permitted to contribute to a candidate, constituency association, political party or leadership contestant.

Syncrude’s political contributions policy had previously focused on donations towards fundraising activities or events that were generally open to the public, through ticket purchase or table sponsorship. Only the Chief Executive Officer could authorize direct donations. In 2015, one donation of $4,000 was made towards sponsorship and ticket purchase for a political leadership dinner.

Corporate Donations

Over $6 Million in Community Investment

Syncrude made community donations totaling more than $6 million in 2015. The funds supported our objective of enriching the lives of our employees and the communities where we do business. Donations were directed toward organizations and endeavours in the Wood Buffalo region and Edmonton, focused on education, Aboriginal-focused initiatives, healthcare, education, sports and recreation, arts and culture, and safety, health & environment. More about our corporate giving guidelines can be found on our website.

Among the donations announced in 2015:

  • $400,000 to the Northern Lights Health Foundation to support upgrades to two nurseries and the Maternal Child Unit at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
  • $75,000 to the Wood Buffalo Food Bank in support of the 2015 Syncrude Food Bank Drive, which raised $390,000 plus 85,000 pounds of food, and was supported by the volunteer efforts of more than 150 Syncrude employees and their families. Funds also supported the Fort McKay Mobile Pantry.
  • $430,000 to the United Way of Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary in support of their annual community campaigns. Syncrude employees donated a further $1.67 million bringing the total to over $2.1 million.
  • $300,000 to the YMCA of Fort McMurray to support enhanced childcare programming.
  • $311,000 to 92 local organizations through our Good Neighbours program. This program encourages employees to engage in community volunteerism by awarding grants to the organizations for which they volunteer. It also includes busing grants awarded to support out-of-town travel by community groups.
  • $45,000 to five local organization chosen by Syncrude employees through our Give with Heart campaign. The employees directed $25,000 to the Centre of Hope, a drop-in centre for homeless people, and $5,000 each to Big Brothers Big Sisters Wood Buffalo, the Fort McMurray Chinese-Canadian Cultural Society, Sanatan Mandir Cultural Society, and Santa’s Anonymous.
  • $500,000 over five years to the Lois Hole Hospital for Women to support an Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery program. The hospital serves patients from across northern Alberta.
  • $250,000 over five years to the Alberta Conservation Association to support biodiversity research studies.
  • $50,000 to the Art Gallery of Alberta to support an exhibition of the work of Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated, also known as the Indian Group of Seven.
  • $90,000 over three years to the University of Alberta to support the USchool initiative.