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The agency responsible for approving and assessing energy development in Alberta is laying off staff as it deals with budget cuts.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says it laid off “a couple of dozen” staff Tuesday with more to come by the end of February.

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring that aims to make the regulator more effective, efficient, and resilient.

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He says the new structure is simpler, one with less hierarchy, less duplication and more integration.

Last October the government announced that the AER would lose about 22 per cent of its operating budget.

Lambert says over the next few weeks the organization will make decisions on how to best run its teams and functions.

“This is a difficult time for staff, and resources are available for both those who depart and those who stay,” he said in a release.

“While some people’s roles may change, our work to regulate Alberta’s energy industry continues.

“We will not waiver in our focus to deliver our core business functions that work to protect public safety and the environment while ensuring responsible energy development.”

Cara Tobin, a spokeswoman for the regulator, says there is no hard target for how many of the organization’s 1,100 staff will lose their jobs.

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The Alberta Energy Regulator is funded by industry and is authorized to collect funds through an administrative fee levied on energy development projects and activities.

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