Section I: Organizational Overview

Organizational Profile

Appropriate Minister: The Honourable James Gordon Carr, P.C., M.P.

Institutional Head: Christyne Tremblay

Ministerial Portfolio:

Year of Incorporation / Commencement: 1994

Main legislative authorities:

Organizational Context

Raison d’être

The vision of NRCan is to improve the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage – now and for the future. It seeks to achieve this vision by working to improve the competitiveness of the natural resource sectors and to grow their contribution to Canada’s economy. NRCan supports the responsible development of Canada’s resources in a manner that advances the country’s global standing as a leader on the environment, and uses its knowledge and expertise of Canada’s landmass to support the safety and security of citizens.


Map of Canada
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Map of Canada

Map locating NRCan offices and laboratories in Canada.


The Minister of Natural Resources has responsibilities in relation to more than 30 acts of Parliament. The Minister’s core powers, duties and functions are set forth in the Department of Natural Resources Act, the Resources and Technical Surveys Act, the Forestry Act and the Energy Efficiency Act. The Department also works in areas of shared responsibilities with provinces, which include the environment, public safety, economic development, science and technology, and consultations with Indigenous Peoples. To fulfil its responsibilities, the Department relies on a number of instruments (e.g., policy, regulation, statutory transfers, grants and contributions) and key activities (e.g., science and technology, partnerships and communications).

NRCan has offices and laboratories across the country. About one third of its employees are located in the National Capital Region, with the remainder distributed from Atlantic Canada, through Quebec and Ontario, to the Western and Pacific Regions and Northern Canada.

Strategic Outcomes and Program Alignment Architecture

  • SO 1: Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors are Globally Competitive
    • Program 1.1: Market Access and Diversification
      • Sub-Program 1.1.1: Mineral and Metal Markets Access and Development
      • Sub-Program 1.1.2: Forest Products Market Access and Development
      • Sub-Program 1.1.3: Energy Market Regulation and Information
    • Program 1.2: Innovation for New Products and Processes
      • Sub-Program 1.2.1: Mining Innovation
      • Sub-Program 1.2.2: Forest Sector Innovation
      • Sub-Program 1.2.3: Geospatial Innovation
    • Program 1.3: Investment in Natural Resource Sectors
      • Sub-Program 1.3.1: Mineral Investment
      • Sub-Program 1.3.2: Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI)
      • Sub-Program 1.3.3: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals
      • Sub-Program 1.3.4: New Energy Supply
      • Sub-Program 1.3.5: Major Projects Management Office Initiative
    • Program 1.4: Statutory Programs – Atlantic Offshore
  • SO 2: Natural Resource Sectors and Consumers are Environmentally Responsible
    • Program 2.1: Energy-Efficient Practices and Lower-Carbon Energy Sources
      • Sub-Program 2.1.1: Renewable Energy Deployment
      • Sub-Program 2.1.2: Support for Clean Energy Decision-Making
      • Sub-Program 2.1.3: Alternative Transportation Fuels
      • Sub-Program 2.1.4: Energy Efficiency
    • Program 2.2: Technology Innovation
      • Sub-Program 2.2.1: Materials for Energy
      • Sub-Program 2.2.2: Green Mining
      • Sub-Program 2.2.3: Clean Energy Science and Technology
    • Program 2.3: Responsible Natural Resource Management
      • Sub-Program 2.3.1: Forest Ecosystem Science and Application
      • Sub-Program 2.3.2: Groundwater Geoscience
      • Sub-Program 2.3.3: Environmental Studies and Assessments
      • Sub-Program 2.3.4: Radioactive Waste Management
      • Sub-Program 2.3.5: Earth Observations for Responsible Resource Development
  • SO 3: Canadians have Information to Manage their Lands and Natural Resources, and are Protected from Related Risks
    • Program 3.1: Protection for Canadians and Natural Resources
      • Sub-Program 3.1.1: Explosives Safety and Security
      • Sub-Program 3.1.2: Materials and Certification for Safety and Security
      • Sub-Program 3.1.3: Forest Disturbances Science and Application
      • Sub-Program 3.1.4: Climate Change Adaptation
      • Sub-Program 3.1.5: Geohazards and Public Safety
    • Program 3.2: Landmass Information
      • Sub-Program 3.2.1: Essential Geographic Information
      • Sub-Program 3.2.2: Canada’s Legal Boundaries
      • Sub-Program 3.2.3: Polar Continental Shelf Logistics Support
      • Sub-Program 3.2.4: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
    • Program 4.1: Internal Services

Operating Environment and Risk Analysis

Canada is a nation rich in natural resources. Its energy, minerals and metals and forest resources bring large economic benefits, accounting for about 17 percent of Canada’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP), 1.75 million jobs and approximately half of Canada’s merchandise exports ($220 billion in 2015).

Gross Domestic Product
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Gross Domestic Product

Infographic showing that Canada’s natural resource sectors accounted for 17% of nominal GDP in 2015.

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Infographic showing that natural resources directly and indirectly accounted for 1.75 million jobs in Canada in 2015.

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Infographic showing that Canada’s natural resource exports were valued at $220 B in 2015.

Natural resources are also critical determinants of Canada’s environmental performance. Their development and use accounts for the vast majority of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and affect air, water and soil quality, public health and safety, and biodiversity and conservation.

Natural resources are thus at the nexus of Canada’s economic and environmental agendas. Our collective challenge, which is also our key opportunity, is to set and implement a plan ensuring the growth of the resource sectors, while protecting the environment.

The Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, includes clear targets and timelines. For Canada, it means reducing GHG emissions by 30 percent from the 2005 level by 2030.

In 2014, Canada's total GHG emissions were 732 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq), or 20 percent (120 Mt CO2 eq) above the 1990 emissions of 613 Mt CO2 eq. Footnote xii Reaching the 2030 target will be challenging; success will require a concerted effort from all Canadians.

Another key challenge is effective stakeholder engagement – from other federal departments to provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous communities, from natural resource industries to consumers and academia. Evolving jurisprudence on consultations with Indigenous communities has also called into question what constituted meaningful consultations, a key decision-making component on projects impacting traditional lands.

Natural resource industry revenues have also been affected by lower commodity prices. Crude oil and liquefied natural gas prices have fallen by over 60 percent since June 2014; similarly, mineral and metal prices have been on a downward trend since 2011 and hit significant lows in 2015-16. Market access, investment climate, wildfires, hazards and emergency management remain ever-present risks requiring NRCan’s continued attention.

Working together and implementing a sound plan will set the foundation for providing Canada with a competitive advantage, improving public confidence in the regulatory system and will help to set the global standard for environmental excellence.

The key strategies deployed by the Department to manage these risks are outlined below.

Key Risks

Organizational Priorities

While NRCan’s core mandate remains anchored in its enabling legislation (see Organizational Context), the Department’s priorities shift from year to year in response to the global and domestic context (see Operating Environment and Risk Analysis).

In November 2015, the Prime Minister asked Minister Carr through his mandate letter, to:

  • Work collaboratively with provinces and territories to advance the Canadian Energy Strategy;
  • Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and other responsible ministers to develop a Clean Technology Strategy for Canada to encourage investment in clean energy technologies in the natural resource sector;
  • Support the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in reviewing Canada’s environmental assessment process, including developing interim measures to guide decision-making on major natural resources projects while the review is under way;
  • Develop a path forward to modernize the NEB; and
  • Develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environment agreement.

NRCan is collaborating and engaging with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples to design and put in place the right policies and programs, informed by science, to deliver on these mandate letter commitments and on the department’s broader legislative mandate. 

In 2015-16, NRCan put in place its plans and made some significant early steps towards meeting these commitments.

Canadian Energy Strategy

Priority Type Footnote 2


Key Supporting Initiatives

Investments in Clean Technology

Priority TypeFootnote 3


Key Supporting Initiatives

Interim Measures in Support of the Environmental Assessment Process Review

Priority TypeFootnote 4


Key Supporting Initiatives

Modernization of the National Energy Board

Priority TypeFootnote 5


Key Supporting Initiatives

North American Energy Collaboration

Priority TypeFootnote 6


Key Supporting Initiatives