Materiality assessment

The materiality assessment, which is conducted with internal and external stakeholders, is essential for gaining a better understanding of the sustainability aspects that are most important for Gaz Métro.
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GRI steps

G4-18 - Gaz Métro applied the GRI’s principles and steps to determine the report's contents.
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  • Review of the 2013 report

    Review of the 2013 report

    Feedback workshop with more than 30 external stakeholders further to the publication of the first Sustainability Report to hear their comments and suggestions.
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    G4-26 - In its 2013 Sustainability Report, Gaz Métro presented its methodology for the first three phases of the materiality assessment. The fourth phase, Review, had not been completed when the report was published, as this was the first reporting cycle that met GRI requirements. To complete the review step, on May 1, 2014, almost one month after the report was published, a feedback workshop was held with the external stakeholders to hear their comments and suggestions for improvements. Thirty-four stakeholder representatives took part in this workshop to analyze the 2013 report’s contents. The participants that took part in this review of the report represented the same categories of stakeholders that participated in the identification phase.
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    G4-27 - Here is a summary of the main suggestions made by Gaz Métro’s stakeholders, with links to the related report sections:
    • The 2013 Sustainability Report focused on Gaz Métro’s main activity, the distribution of natural gas in Quebec. However, the stakeholders mentioned that they would like the report to be broader in scope and include unregulated activities, such as activities related to liquefied natural gas, renewable natural gas and wind power. See the Growth and development section.
    • More detailed information should be provided on environmental impact management. New aspects: water management and biodiversity management.
    • Sustainable development governance and how staff is engaged should be explained in more detail. See the Sustainable development governance section.
    • Benchmarking should be done with comparable businesses in Quebec's energy sector. Gaz Métro took part in a benchmarking study on sustainability disclosure practices in Canadian energy sector businesses. The study results pertaining to Gaz Métro are presented below.
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    Benchmarking of sustainability performance disclosure practices

    In 2014, Gaz Métro participated in the Energy Sector Sustainability Study (ES3) conducted by the Delphi Group in Ottawa. The ES3 assesses energy sector companies mainly based in Canada or with significant Canadian activities. The study focuses on the oil and natural gas subsector, energy transport companies and public utilities. All major Canadian energy suppliers with sustainability practices are included, as are a few American utilities. To be included in the study, companies must have sustainability practices that are effective and sufficiently developed to provide some meaningful basis for comparison.
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    Gaz Métro placed in the 2nd quartile for the disclosure of its sustainability practices in its 2013 Sustainability Report, with a score of 61 points out of a possible 91.

    The study is broken down into seven categories:
    1. Carbon and Energy Management
    2. Strategy and Governance
    3. Environmental Risks and Opportunities
    4. Financial Indicators of Sustainability
    5. EHS Compliance Metrics & Reporting
    6. Stakeholder Engagement and Social Metrics
    7. Sustainability Reporting Practices
    Here are some of the report’s recommendations:
    • Include Scope 3 emissions in the company's greenhouse gas emission reporting* 
    • Better explain and measure biodiversity management and water management
    • Explore the potential for additional social metrics to improve reporting on impacts on the community
    • Consider using interactive features and publishing the Sustainability Report online

    *The Scope 3 refers to other indirect emissions related to the supply chain of goods and services or transportation emissions employees and customers.
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  • Identification


    Review of internal strategic documents, benchmarking of aspects included in a variety of relevant external documents and stakeholder consultation (survey) to determine the relevant aspects.
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    Sustainability aspects

    As this is Gaz Métro's second report drafted in compliance with GRI G4 Guidelines, the identification phase was mainly an opportunity to review the company's sustainability aspects and enhance them to ensure the list was as exhaustive as possible. To achieve this, Gaz Métro reviewed the benchmarking of the sustainability aspects in internal strategic documents, such as Gaz Métro's strategic plan and the risk assessment. 

    Internal inputs  External inputs 
     Risk assessment  Benchmarking of energy sector company reporting practices
     Strategic planning  Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Oil & Gas – Midstream
     Gaz Métro Sustainable Development Roadmap  Quebec’s sustainable development strategy for 2015-2020
     Gaz Métro 2013 Sustainability Report  
     External stakeholder feedback – activity on May 1, 2014  

    Gaz Métro also studied the aspects raised in other energy industry sustainability reports and took into account the comments made by the stakeholders during the feedback meeting on the previous Sustainability Report. Lastly, internal and external stakeholders also had opportunities to suggest new topics.

    This process resulted in the identification of 24 relevant sustainability aspects related to Gaz Métro's activities. Most of the aspects in the previous report appear in this report, making it possible to draw comparisons. In all, eight environmental aspects, seven economic aspects and nine social aspects were defined.
    Click here to see all the sustainability aspects defined by Gaz Métro.

    G4-20, G4-21

    Internal energy consumptionEnergy consumption (electricity, natural gas, fuel) within facilities, for activities and the vehicle fleet.

    Water management
    Water management in Gaz Métro activities and offices.

    Biodiversity management
    Management practices and consideration of biodiversity, particularly in terms of analytical tools such as environmental impact assessments associated with Gaz Métro projects.

    Management of the environmental impact of the gas network
    Management practices and system instituted to establish and mitigate the environmental risks and impacts associated with the company's activities in the area of natural gas distribution.

    Internal waste management
    Management of waste in facilities and activities. Includes all measures to reduce at source, reuse, recycle and reclaim waste.

    Emissions and atmospheric pollutants
    Management of greenhouse gas emissions and other atmospheric pollutants (e.g. nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxides (SO2)) associated with our activities (including fugitive leaks, vehicle and building combustion, and third-party damage).

    Contaminant leaks and spills
    Management of leaks, spills and fires involving hazardous materials or contaminants, as well as incident reporting.

    Energy efficiency
    Programs and initiatives to help customers reduce their consumption of natural gas or other more polluting forms of energy (conversion to natural gas), including the Global Energy Efficiency Plan (GEEP).


    Procurement practices
    Procurement process, including the evaluation and selection of goods and services suppliers based on responsible procurement criteria.

    Legal compliance
    Compliance with legislation and regulations, including compliance with the legal requirements applicable to the environment, occupational health and safety, marketing communications and network security.

    Regulatory context
    Regulatory context and requirements governing monitoring of the organization's activities (e.g. Régie de l’énergie, cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances).

    Gas supply
    Description of the natural gas supply chain and the organization's practices and procedures, including the origin of natural gas, selection of natural gas suppliers and distribution modes.

    Growth and development
    Business practices contributing to the organization's growth, development of the natural gas network (including operational, economic and regulatory constraints), development of innovative energy projects (natural gas as fuel and liquefied natural gas to replace more polluting energy sources), and production of renewable energy (wind power and biomethane distribution).

    The price of natural gas
    The change in the price of natural gas based on various components (e.g. molecule, transport and distribution) and factors that influence them.  Comparison of the price of natural gas with that of other forms of energy.

    Research and development
    Contribution to the development of other energy sectors (biomethane) and search for new natural gas applications in conjunction with the Natural Gas Technologies Centre (NGTC) and through collaboration with university research chairs.

    Social acceptabilityConcerns regarding the environmental and social impacts of natural gas distribution (supply sources) and projects to improve the natural gas network (traffic obstructions, noise, odour, community relations, etc.). Relations with Aboriginal communities and stakeholders affected by the projects.

    Service accessibility
    Practices and programs to assist low-income customers and customers having payment difficulties.

    Safety of the gas network
    Risk outreach and communication initiatives, preventive maintenance programs, and policies pertaining to emergency measure management, operational continuity and network recovery (emergency response time, management system). Includes measures to ensure customer safety.

    Occupational health and safetyOutreach programs and management systems fostering a safe, healthy work environment for Gaz Métro employees, partners and the suppliers who represent it. Includes management of workplace accidents and absenteeism.

    Training and skills development
    Training programs for Gaz Métro employees, partners and suppliers, to develop their skills, and maintain and upgrade their knowledge.

    Work environment
    Measures implemented to foster ethical conduct, equal opportunity, diversity, a discrimination-free workplace and employee mobilization, and maintain healthy relations with the unions.

    Succession and retirement management
    Actions to identify succession within the staff and critical functions of the organization. Talent and retirement management

    Community involvement
    Staff involvement, execution of projects supported by Gaz Métro's community investment program, and local economic spinoffs from these investments.

    Customer satisfaction
    Monitoring of the quality of customer service, complaint management, and speed of service.
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    Changes made to Gaz Métro's sustainability aspects


    Elimination of the Governance category

    While good governance is an integral part of the sustainability process, this category was removed from the list of aspects because a specific section of the report is dedicated to it. For more information, see the Governance section.

    Furthermore, certain aspects were moved. For example:
    • Socially responsible supply is now Purchasing practices and has been moved to the Economy section.
    • Collaborating and consulting with stakeholders and Communication and reporting have been removed, as they are best practices and not sustainability aspects.  
    • Social acceptability of the product is now Social acceptability, encompassing the social acceptability of projects (traffic obstructions, noise, odours, etc.). The aspect is now in the Social section. The social acceptability of natural gas is now part of the Gas supply aspect in the Economy section.
    Changes in the Environment category
    • As recommended by the stakeholders and further to benchmarking of reporting best practices, Water management and Biodiversity management have been added to the list of aspects.
    Changes in the Social category
    • Service accessibility was added to emphasize expectations regarding initiatives supporting low-income households.
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    Stakeholder identification

    External stakeholders

    Gaz Métro has grouped its external stakeholders into 10 categories:
    • Shareholders
    • Industry associations
    • Customers (commercial, industrial or institutional, corporate)
    • Suppliers (goods and services and gas)
    • Community groups
    • Environmental groups
    • Régie de l’énergie intervenors
    • Economic partners (including subsidiaries)
    • Public authorities
    • Universities and research chairs
    G4-25 - Selecting stakeholders for the materiality assessment was a turning point in drafting the report. Many collaborators, in particular from the gas supply, Corporate Secretariat and sales sectors, helped identify stakeholders, to ensure discussions were relevant and representative.  Gaz Métro's sustainable development team used the following criteria to identify external stakeholders for each category:
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    Internal stakeholders
    In addition to these external stakeholders, a group of internal stakeholders was consulted: the Management Committee, the sustainable development strategy committee, the corporate team (group of approximately 20 employees in various positions within the company: specialized employees, managers, union representatives, etc.), as well as the report collaborators.

    G4-24 - Selection criteria were established to ensure the company's sectors and hierarchical levels were well represented. The sustainable development team also took into consideration the role of the stakeholders selected during Gaz Métro's sustainable development initiative.

    G4-26 - Gaz Métro also works with its stakeholders in other contexts, to nurture the spirit of collaboration. These initiatives include:
    • Discussions with unions
    • Distribution of our new Supplier Code of Conduct and supplier surveys
    • Discussion groups with customers (on improving our bills in particular)
    • Various exchange activities with other companies through different industry associations
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  • Prioritization


    G4-26 - A survey was conducted in May 2015 to prioritize the relevant aspects. Internal and external stakeholders were asked to rate the 24 sustainability aspects according to their level of importance (on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was not at all important and 5 was very important), considering the nature of Gaz Métro’s activities.
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    Results of the survey to prioritize the aspects

    Of the 240 stakeholders approached, 143 responded to the survey, for a response rate of 60%. The survey results are presented in the materiality matrix.
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    Materiality matrix

    G4-26 - The survey revealed that internal and external stakeholders considered 11 aspects to be important, giving them an importance rating of 4 or more. These aspects appear in bold in the materiality matrix. 
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    Priority aspects identification

    Further to this exercise, Gaz Métro applied threshold criteria to determine which sustainability aspects were priorities.

    Threshold criteria:
    • Minimum rating: Priority aspects were given an importance rating of 4 or more by internal and external stakeholders.
    • Transparency: Aspects for which the company did not attain its objectives are included in the report, so Gaz Métro can present a balanced picture of its performance.
    • Strategic priorities: Aspects related to Gaz Métro's strategic planning objectives and considered to be business growth priorities were added, i.e. Gas supply, Growth and development, and Workplace.
    G4-19 - Applying these criteria made it possible to identify 15 priority aspects, which are addressed in this Sustainability Report. These aspects are grouped into nine topics to make the report easier to read. Here is the list of proposed report topics.
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    The 9 aspects that were not included in this report further to the prioritization process are nevertheless included on the sustainability performance tracking platform, which discloses all our sustainability performance indicators and will be updated yearly; the Sustainability Report will continue to be published every two years. Click here to access Gaz Métro’s sustainability performance tracking platform. 
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  • Validation


    G4-24, G4-26 - The validation phase involved two steps. A workshop with a small, representative group of external stakeholders was held on October 1, 2015. The workshop’s participants represented the following stakeholder categories:

    • Shareholders
    • Industry associations
    • University researchers
    • Corporate clients
    • Institutional clients
    • Environmental groups
    • Municipal representatives 

    Gaz Métro's sustainable development strategy committee then validated the priority aspects and the topics that structure this report.

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  • Review


    G4-18 - Once this report is published, Gaz Métro's sustainable development team will engage its stakeholders to gather the feedback necessary to further improve its reporting process.
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