Making a positive difference in the community

Our commitment to the communities where we work and live is something we take seriously. We take every opportunity to connect with Aboriginal and local communities so they can have confidence in our work – whether it’s through face-to-face meetings, open houses, mainstream and social media or tours of our operations.

Recognizing that every community is different, we focus on the unique needs of each individual community. We go beyond making financial donations and aim to develop opportunities that create long-term economic and social value for residents.

Whenever possible, we hire locally and use businesses and services from the areas around our operations. We also work with community partners to find ways to create programs, provide in-kind support and host and sponsor events. Our employees and their families also get involved through volunteer activities.

Reinforcing respect in the communities where we operate and with our workers

Our Expect RespectTM program is a Cenovus-wide program with a focus on reinforcing our value of respect in the workplace and in the communities where we operate. It’s about strengthening relationships and demonstrating respect. It’s also about being a good neighbour and addressing concerns often associated with oil and gas operations such as noise, dust and speeding. The program also provides a mechanism for communicating back to us about our performance.

We want communities where we live and work to share in the benefits associated with our operations, and to know they can expect respect in everything we do. Our set of guiding principles outlines what we expect of our employees, contractors and service providers who work on behalf of our company to take care of the environment and do right by local communities.

Engaging with Aboriginal communities

Our oil sands projects are located near several Aboriginal communities. We work closely with these communities in a variety of ways, including consulting on project development, procuring products and services from their businesses, providing community investment funding and supporting employment and training programs. In addition, Cenovus works to build lasting relationships with Aboriginal communities near our operations through commitments outlined in formal long-term community agreements.

Agreements provide certainty for the communities and for Cenovus as we develop our projects. They help both parties address a number of key aspects of the relationship including consultation and engagement, community investment, economic and business development, employment and training, and other items of interest specific to each community.

Demonstrating our commitment to Aboriginal businesses

Cenovus endeavours to procure goods and services from local providers whenever possible. Given many of our closest neighbours are Aboriginal communities, we work hard to maintain good relationships with local Aboriginal businesses. This approach has helped us meet our labour needs and also support local economic development. In total, we have spent over $1.5 billion doing business with Aboriginal companies since our inception in 2009.

Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, located near our Christina Lake operations, is one of the communities that we started working with over 10 years ago. In addition to working directly with us, they also work with other companies through joint ventures to provide services to Cenovus. Earnings from these joint venture businesses have had a significant impact on the community by:

  • Running a community health centre that provides the band with access to healthcare services
  • Constructing new homes (150 in total so far) for elders, single parents or people wanting to return to the community to work and live
  • Upgrading housing for community members
  • Improving roads on the Reserve
  • Running daycare and aftercare facilities for young children as well as a youth centre for older children
  • Celebrating Treaty days, Dene days, Christmas parties and other community events

"By doing business with Cenovus, we have been able to support a number of community facilities including health services, upgrades to local infrastructure, employment programs and youth centres,” says Mike Kearns, a senior business and economic development leader with Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation. “These facilities provide benefits to the whole community, and also help to support our longer term development."

Our Employment Bridging Internship Program gives us an opportunity to work closely with Aboriginal communities and organizations near our operating areas in northern Alberta to identify internship candidates who are interested in working toward a career in the oil and gas industry. This unique program provides training and paid work opportunities for eligible Aboriginal participants. In 2014, we had 10 interns start the program. Four participants from our 2012 program continue to work full-time at Cenovus.

Supporting post-secondary education for local students

At Cenovus, we embrace the opportunity to contribute to the strength and sustainability of the communities where we work and live. That’s one reason why we provide support for post-secondary education for Aboriginal students living in the communities where we operate. Our Aboriginal Scholarship program falls under two of our three community investment focus areas: learning and sustainable communities. This scholarship program has three main objectives:

  • To encourage Aboriginal students to pursue and complete post-secondary education
  • To increase the number of Aboriginal professionals and role models in communities where we operate
  • To further the potential for local employment in the oil and natural gas industry

Each year, we offer up to 10 new scholarships for Aboriginal students who are pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certified trade. These scholarships are valued at $3,500 each. In 2014, we awarded 15 scholarships in total, including the renewed scholarships for students continuing in their program.

Our industry is currently facing many economic challenges associated with low oil prices. While this has impacted our planned capital expenditure overall for 2015, working with Aboriginal businesses will continue to be a priority for Cenovus.

Our performance

Since 2009, we have spent more than $1.5 billion on goods and services supplied by Aboriginal businesses, including nearly $384 million in 2014 alone. Our overall company capital spend was reduced in 2014, accounting for a reduced Aboriginal business spend total. However, our Aboriginal business spend as a percentage of total business spend increased in 2014.

Community investment and involvement

Our community investment program helps us build meaningful relationships with local communities. It’s not just about financial donations. It’s about demonstrating our commitment to helping communities where we live and work be stronger and better off because we’re there.

Through our community investment program, we strategically concentrate our efforts in three focus areas – learning, safety and well-being, and sustainable communities. This year we donated over $13.5 million to charitable and non-profit organizations. Over the past five years, our donations totalled more than $66.4 million and we’ve received positive feedback from our partners and communities about our program and its impacts.

Examples of our community investment in 2014 included:

  • Giving over $2 million toward literacy initiatives across our operating areas by partnering with school divisions and supporting reading programs and summer literacy camps
  • Investing in a wide range of emergency services, programs and safety training as part of our commitment to safety in our communities
  • Contributing $4 million (employee donations plus the Cenovus match) to more than 1,090 organizations through our employee giving programs
  • Supporting the opening of the Cenovus Energy Centre at SAIT Polytechnic that accepted its first intake of power engineering students in the fall. We donated $3 million in 2012 toward the construction of the centre.

Community initiatives

Current educational research suggests that the largest improvement to high school completion rates can be achieved by increasing a student’s ability to read. Our support for literacy included donations to Northlands, Medicine Hat and Grasslands School divisions, Calgary Reads programs, Frontier College and Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps for kids in Beaver Lake Cree Nation.

Working with youth to discover their potential

Our involvement with the In the Lead program provides our employees with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a Calgary teen by helping them discover their potential. The program, developed by Calgary Youth Justice Society, in partnership with Cenovus, is an innovative leadership development initiative designed to help at-risk youth. The program matches a teen, who has strong leadership skills but is susceptible to high-risk behaviour, with a Cenovus employee who mentors them by focusing on their strengths. The young leaders benefit from the life experiences our employees share with them, helping them to discover and apply their abilities in a healthy, productive way. The Cenovus employee, called a coach, develops personal leadership and managerial skills that they can apply in their own life and work.

“Students who complete In the Lead, believe in themselves and have that rare but necessary commodity that will allow them to achieve their dreams. They have hope,” says Bruce Sawdon, Principal, Discovering Choices High School.

In 2014, we had 50 young leaders and 50 Cenovus volunteers take part in the program. To date, over 140 young leaders and 140 Cenovus volunteers have participated in eight separate 16-week sessions.

Calgary Youth Justice Society asked young leaders about some of the things they learned through their participation in the program. Here are the results:

Since 2010, our employees have donated $9.3 million through our Thanks & Giving and Matching Gifts programs. When combined with the Cenovus matching funds and including our volunteer grant program match, that’s over $19.5 million.

Our performance

We strategically concentrate our community investment efforts in three focus areas – learning, safety and well-being, and sustainable communities.

Assessing the value and impact of our community investment program

We’ve been a member of London Benchmarking Group (LBG) Canada since 2011. Our participation in LBG Canada helps us to identify best practices in order to continually improve our community investment program. Each year, we participate in a detailed, line-by-line audit of our entire community investment portfolio. The audit helps us to understand the total value that our cash, in-kind, employee volunteering and giving, and program management costs bring to the local community.

"Every year, Cenovus embraces the LBG Canada audit process as an opportunity to learn from past performance in order to guide future direction,” says Stephanie Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, LBG Canada. “We increasingly see the integration of community investment, employee volunteering and giving strategies helping to create more business and community value."

In 2014, the total value of our investment in the community, as audited by LBG, was $19.5 million.

Stakeholder engagement

Engaging with stakeholders is a critical part of our business. We want those who have a vested interest in our operations to understand who we are as a company and how we do business. We also want to understand their interests in our projects and hear what they have to say about our company and our industry. These interactions allow us to build our project plans in order to mitigate any concerns raised by local communities and help us be better at what we do.

We strive to create an open flow of communication with stakeholders to ensure they know our company and understand our projects and we understand their concerns. Here are some of the ways we engaged with our stakeholders throughout the year:

Measurement abbreviations used throughout the report

bbls barrels
BOE/d barrel of oil equivalent per day
CO2 carbon dioxide
CO2E carbon dioxide equivalent
GJ gigajoules
GHG greenhouse gas
m³OE cubic metres of oil equivalent
mg/L milligrams per litre
MMcf/d million cubic feet per day
SOR steam to oil ratio