Government Commitments


Supporting Liability Management on Indigenous Land

March 11, 2024

NationTalk: Since the beginning of the Site Rehabilitation Program in May 2020, Alberta’s government has been working with Indigenous communities, Indigenous businesses, the Indian Resource Council and the Metis Settlements General Council to perform well, pipeline, and oil and gas site closure and reclamation work. As part of the Site Rehabilitation Program, the Government of Canada allocated $1 billion in funding to Alberta, with a dedicated $133.3 million to clean up inactive oil and gas sites within Indigenous communities.

Through the Site Rehabilitation Program, approximately $1 billion in grant funding was approved and allocated to more than 500 Alberta-based companies, resulting in the creation of approximately 4,135 jobs. Approximately $137 million of the $1 billion in funding remains unused by grant recipients and the federal government is now requesting all unused funds be returned to Ottawa.

“These are federal lands and the Site Rehabilitation Program provided dedicated federal funding for an economic relief program. If the federal government is serious about reconciliation, we encourage them to release the funds so this important work can continue. We look forward to finding more opportunities to continue our collaboration with Indigenous communities.”

Brian Jean, Minister of Energy and Minerals

Closure work was completed on 1,824 inactive well sites during the Indigenous community grant program. Chiefs from Treaty 6, 7 and 8 territories and the Indian Resource Council have requested that the federal government allocate these unused funds to site clean-up on Indigenous lands instead of demanding the funds’ return. Re-allocating these funds would maintain the momentum achieved by the success of the Site Rehabilitation Program to clean up inactive oil and gas sites on Indigenous land. Alberta’s government stands beside the chiefs in support of their request.

“The Site Rehabilitation Program is a tried, tested and true vehicle for economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. It has provided meaningful job opportunities and work experience while also reclaiming the land so the communities can use it again. We need flexibility from the federal government to continue this important work.”

Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

“We acknowledge the work that has been done under the Site Rehabilitation Program, but there is more to be done. This is a liability of the lessees, and the Alberta Government is holding them accountable through the Well Closure Program. However, time is not on our side. We have a very limited land base and a growing population. We must do the necessary land stewardship immediately.”

Chief Cody Thomas, Enoch Cree Nation

The Site Rehabilitation Program supported the energy services sector in the province during an economic downturn, keeping jobs and expertise in Alberta while the sector rebounded. The program also helped grow capacity within Indigenous communities, allowing contractors to continue to participate in the energy sector once the program ended in 2023.

A total of 34,963 applications were approved and completed their grant agreements. Of the 34,963 total approved and completed grant agreements, 11,567 Indigenous company applications were approved and 103 Indigenous contractors participated in the program.

“We are doing what we can to keep that program going to maintain the success of the initial Site Rehabilitation Program. About 350 community members received jobs and skills training. By removing the aging wells and pipelines, we can free up land to use for housing and other purposes. This is why we need the surplus funds.”

Stephen Buffalo, president and CEO, Indian Resource Council of Canada

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