Skip to main content Start of content

TRAN Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication

37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Tuesday, March 9, 2004




¹ 1530
V         The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.))
V         Mr. Louis Ranger (Deputy Minister, Department of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, CPC)

¹ 1535
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Louis Ranger

¹ 1540
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, BQ)
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire (Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport)
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

¹ 1550
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

¹ 1555
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.)
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard

º 1600
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk

º 1605
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

º 1610
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Ronald Sully (Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs and Divestiture Group, Department of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger

º 1615
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.)
V         Mr. Louis Ranger

º 1620
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Hon. Susan Whelan
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Hon. Susan Whelan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

º 1625
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard

º 1630
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk

º 1635
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Susan Whelan
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Hon. Susan Whelan

º 1640
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Le président
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         M. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

º 1645
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Susan Whelan

º 1650
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston, Lib.)
V         Mr. Louis Ranger

º 1655
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Kristine Burr (Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy Group, Department of Transport)
V         Mr. Alan Tonks
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 004 
l
3rd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1530)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.)): I call the meeting to order.

    Before we proceed, I'd like to share with you that the minister is ill and cannot attend today. I happen to know that he was well prepared and wanted to be here. To the members of the committee, so you have an opportunity to question the minister, if you permit me, I will invite the minister to appear before the committee upon our return on Thursday. As you know, you decided what work we will do on Tuesday with the department heads. So if it's okay with you, I will invite the minister to appear before the committee at 11 o'clock on Thursday when we come back. D'accord? We're okay with this, colleagues?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    The Chair: Okay, we will so do.

    I will also note that we don't have a quorum, but we will go through the questions and answers. If there are motions to affect any amounts, we will deal with them if we have a quorum.

    The order of the day, pursuant to Standing Order 81(5), is supplementary estimates (B) 2003-2004: votes 1b, 10b, 46b, 55b, and 60b under Transport, referred to the committee on Thursday, February 19, 2004.

    We welcome the deputy minister, Louis Ranger--welcome--accompanied by Monsieur Jacques Piegeon, Monsieur Marc Grégoire, Monsieur André Morency, and Mr. Ronald Sully.

    I understand you have a short presentation.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger (Deputy Minister, Department of Transport): No, but I want to confirm that indeed Mr. Valeri was certainly well prepared and wanted to attend the meeting, and he actually put us to task yesterday to answer a lot of pointed questions. He sends his regrets and I am sure he will be very pleased to appear before this committee later.

    I did not come with prepared remarks. We're here, as I understand, primarily to discuss the supplementary estimates, but we're open to any other question you may have regarding the management of the department. Our ADM for policy, Mrs. Kris Burr, may join us later; she was in Montreal earlier today.

    So we're available for questions.

+-

    The Chair: Colleagues, on the agenda it shows that the meeting is from 3:30 to 5:30, but we have a consensus that it will be from 3:30 to 5 o'clock. If you need more time at 5 o'clock, we'll just put a motion on the table and with a majority vote we'll extend. Everyone has agreed to that.

    Therefore, we will start. We have lots of time. The first round will be seven minutes, as we agreed, and there will be a number of rounds.

    Mr. Gouk, you have the floor for seven minutes.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, CPC): I would like to start off with so many things, and CATSA would be one. We've had CATSA in before at our committee. They refused to answer a number of questions they said would breach their security needs. We didn't quite see it that way with the specific questions we were asking, but they said that nonetheless.

    I'm concerned that their lack of accountability is building an empire. We've heard arguments--I've certainly heard arguments--from airport authorities who have suggested that we operate our entire airport, including airport security, security for employees going to air side, all of these things...except this one thing, and it becomes a bottleneck. You have examples, one here in Ottawa, where the lineups were backed all the way into the U.S. departure zone because, with a total disregard for airline schedules or needs, CATSA had arbitrarily decided to send a bunch of their people for training.

    I guess there are two things I personally would like to consider with CATSA. One is putting them under the control of the airport authorities with regulations from Transport Canada to harmonize across the country the standards they must meet. Put them under control so there can be cross-training, so more people can be put on during times of demand, and so they can harmonize that with the needs of their users, primarily the airlines at the airports.

    The second one is, if the United States post-9/11 can let us in across the border at various border crossings with a NEXUS card, pre-clearance cards, why can't CATSA come up with something similar so aircrews and high-frequency travellers, who have been subjected to scrutiny through a pre-clearance security check, can do the same sort of thing? it would stop this absurdity of making pilots go through the line and breaking off a five-eighth-inch-long nail file on their clippers before letting them go on board the aircraft, where they have a four-foot fire axe that is a no-go item on their checklist.

    I would open with that on CATSA and get your feedback on that.

¹  +-(1535)  

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: First of all, on the question of confidentiality I certainly remember the difficulty we encountered then. But I thought we had broken that log-jam when we agreed to go in camera. At that time, the minister of the day agreed to provide more information, which I thought at the time was satisfactory, as I recall.

    On the question of whether the employees of CATSA should be part of the staff of airports, the model we have now does not prevent that. Going in, there was a view that CATSA should hire employees from security agencies, and so far the model has proven quite flexible. Initially they had about 12 agencies. Recently they announced they're consolidating under five agencies, and they seem to be quite pleased with the economies they're achieving through that approach.

    But I understand discussions are continuing with the larger airports as to whether they should look at that, perhaps on a pilot project basis. To my knowledge, the discussions are continuing. There's nothing I know that actually prevents it from happening.

    On the question of a NEXUS kind of approach for frequent travellers, whereby those who are prepared to accept undergoing a special security clearance would have their background checked and so on, the idea is that they could be put on a fast track. Some people have even told us they would actually be prepared to pay a few dollars to have access to a fast track. It's an interesting question whether CATSA could go on cost recovery, in whole or in part, for those additional services.

    A number of other issues have arisen as to whether CATSA could collect some revenues for certain services they render. We actually met with senior management of CATSA last night, and they raised that as a possibility.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I'm not interested in creating new revenues for them. I'm talking about doing something that cuts down their workload and hopefully reduces their need for revenues, and thus the taxpayers' or travellers' expenses.

    One other item just on this—I have lots, believe me—concerns airline flight attendants. This was an issue we were pushing to get resolved before Parliament prorogued. We had hoped we had put enough pressure on enough people that something was going to be done. This is the issue where they are not designated as flight crew, and consequently, in this time of great disruption inside the airline industry, many of them are being laid off and are unable to collect EI benefits, even though they've paid into this plan, because under the way EI has deemed them—as not being flight crew—they don't theoretically have enough hours. In reality they put in all kinds of hours, but are only paid for the flight time.

    We hoped this had been resolved. It is resolvable, and highly readily resolvable. Yet one department is playing against another, and everybody is yelling, “Who's on first?” When are we going to get this thing resolved? What can Transport Canada do? Never mind whether it's their responsibility or not; they have the power to do it. Perhaps another agency has the power to do it. When is somebody going to take responsibility and just get the job done?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: We are definitely working on regulations for flight attendants, but there's been an expectation that we would come forth with a regulation that would declare that flight attendants should work less than 35 hours a week, and that therefore if they were to claim employment benefits, their short week would be recognized as a full week. Work is progressing, but frankly, I have to tell you that the kind of stress a pilot is submitted to is quite different from the level of stress a flight attendant would be submitted to.

    Without prejudging the result of our work, we cannot guarantee we will come down with regulations that will declare that flight attendants should work less than a prescribed number of hours a week. There are those who are hoping we will come forward with regulations that will resolve that problem. We're certainly not trying to throw the ball at someone else, but we've repeatedly said we're carrying out our work. Unfortunately, there are those who hope our regulations will solve their problem.

    We're looking at this from a safety perspective. We cannot guarantee we will resolve an employment insurance problem.

¹  +-(1540)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gouk.

    Monsieur Bigras.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, BQ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    At the October 9, 2003 meeting of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the current minister's predecessor, David Collenette, stated the following in response to a question from me about the proposed dredging and widening of the St. Lawrence Seaway: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with the proposal”. Later, he said: “However, I agree in principle with the proposal”. Less than two weeks later, at a Transport Committee meeting, he told my colleague from Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel, who happens to be here today, the following: “We are going to invest $500,000 in some studies, and the funding will come from the Department of Transport.”

    Is the proposed expenditure of $500,000 announced by the former Transport Minister on October 23 last included in these Supplementary Estimates?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I'm happy you asked that question. The prevailing perception is that we are gearing up to dredge the Seaway. As I see it, this can be traced to the fact that 18 or 24 months ago, the Americans suggested that a $20 million study be done and that the cost be shared equally by both countries.

    In actual fact, we have entered into a far more modest partnership with some US counterparts. The purpose of the study, which is comprised of six phases, is to ascertain shipping requirements on the Seaway for the long term. Currently, we're in phase one of the study and no decision of any kind has been made as to the type of project that might be undertaken.

    To my knowledge -- and my colleagues can confirm this -- the $500,000 comes out of the department's core budget. Funding for the study was found in our internal budget and no additional funds have been requested for this purpose.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: As I understand it, Mr. Chairman, phase one of the project consisted of a preliminary study which recommended that consideration be given to dredging the Seaway.

    Further to these recommendations, I believe phase two is in the works. It will involve pre-feasibility and feasibility studies in which various scenarios will be examined, including the widening of the Seaway. Consequently, are you prepared to concede that this sum of $500,000, even though not directly tied to the studies into the widening proposal, could indirectly be tied to the project, since one of the scenarios discussed in the pre-feasibility studies, that is the market, economic and environmental impact studies comprising the three components in phase two, is the expansion of the waterway?

    In other words, in financing phase two, is the government not indirectly funding a study into the widening of the Seaway?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I can assure you that all of the details have yet to be worked out.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Can you give us your assurances today that the agreement in principle given by the former minister has been withdrawn? If you recall, he said this about the initiative: “I agree with the proposal”. Later he said: “However, I agree in principle with the proposal.”

    Can you tell us at this time if the Canadian government is withdrawing its support?

¹  +-(1545)  

+-

    The Chair: One moment.

[English]

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.): That's out of order, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: I'll chair the meeting.

[Translation]

    Mr. Bigras, a public servant is not in a position to retract a minister's comments. A political commitment was made and I would never ask a public servant to retract or add to comments made.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, I'm not asking the deputy minister to retract any comments. I'm asking him if he knows where his minister stands on the issue and if so, to share that information with us. On December 18, I wrote to Minister Valeri asking him to withdraw the government's support for the project. The minister didn't even bother to acknowledge receipt of my letter. I merely want to know if the deputy minister knows if his government's position on the matter has changed at all.

[English]

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Please don't interrupt every time I have a decision to make.

[Translation]

    Mr. Bigras asked you if you knew whether the government's position had changed. That's an acceptable question.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I don't know if the government's position has changed, but I'm certain Minister Valeri will be able to answer that question when he appears before the committee on March 25.

+-

    The Chair: The Minister will be here in two weeks and you can ask him the question then.

    You have two minutes remaining.

    Go ahead, Mr. Laframboise.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Earlier, you stated that the study was comprised of six phases. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: That's correct.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: If I understand correctly, your participation has been limited to phase one.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Will you be participating in subsequent phases of the study?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Only if we are satisfied with the results of the initial phase and we have the resources to complete the second phase. We have not committed to completing all six phases, only phase one. We are weighing the findings, but we have yet to make any further commitments as such.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Do you expect any announcements in the upcoming budget?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I really don't know.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I'm talking about your department.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I have no idea.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Can your colleagues tell us where the government found the sum of $500,000 quoted earlier?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: To my knowledge, the money came out of the department's own budget. We maintain reserve funds for studies that need to be done throughout the course of the year. The money came out of the reserve fund. Accordingly, we're not asking for supplementary estimates to fund the study.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Do you know how much money there usually is in your reserve fund?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Our department manages a budget of $1.6 billion. If we look at all of the budget components, it's easy to find an extra $1 million to allocate to various studies, including studies needed to draft regulations.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Merci, Monsieur Laframboise.

    Mrs. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I would like to follow up on Mr. Gouk's comments in relation to the flight attendants and your indication that certainly from Transport Canada's perspective it's going to be done purely on the basis of safety--if I had the right impression. So it's not necessarily going to come out and state that they would be deemed as working less than 35 hours, or a maximum of 35 hours.

    Is there any intent within those regulations to recognize the need of flight attendants prior to flights when passengers are there, at the end of flights when passengers are there, at the end of flights when passengers can't get through the hallways at airports because nobody is opening the doors to let them in, when they're sitting on the tarmac for two or three hours? Or is there consideration of the fact that perhaps it is a little more stressful than some people think, with the number of cases of air rage over the last number of years because of the whole situation within the airline industry?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire (Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport): Yes, there are intentions to cover all of those, as well as training that is required for flight attendants.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Now I would like to go a little further, and I know we're going to be discussing this with the groups involved. Since we're touching on the training for flight attendants, I'm curious about what Transport Canada views as an acceptable number of flight attendants to ensure passenger safety in the time of an accident or some kind of a situation happening on a flight. Do they think it's reasonable that one flight attendant look after 40 passengers, 50 passengers, 40 passengers consisting of 10 kids, 12 seniors, whatever? Does Transport Canada have some guidelines they're working with?

¹  +-(1550)  

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Well, the regulation is being reviewed at this time. We've had a lot of requests and a lot of pressure from stakeholders, from air carriers to change the regulation, which is today one flight attendant for 40 passengers, to one attendant for 50 seats. This is the case now in Europe, in most countries. It's the case in the United States. The regulation is for one flight attendant for 50 seats.

    We have done a safety study to see if it would be safe to pursue this matter. We found out in our study, in consultation with unions and with air carriers and others, that yes, it could be safe, so we have decided to proceed on a regulatory proposal change, and we will start the consultation for that in the near future. But the whole process could take probably over a year to complete.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: So you're saying one flight attendant per 50 seats. Would that be seats that have passengers in them, or empty ones?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: The regulation as it is worded and following the ICAO recommendation, both in the States and in Europe, is one per 50 seats, whether the seats are occupied or not. The regulation we have today is one for 40 passengers. So if you carry fewer passengers, you can reduce the number of flight attendants.

    Let's take, for instance, an aircraft that carries 130 passengers. If it's full today, you need four flight attendants. If we change the rule, you would need three flight attendants. But the rule as it stands today is that if you're making a flight and you stop en route and one of the flight attendants is sick, you can proceed without replacing. With the new rule, you couldn't. So there are differences.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay. You don't think there's any bearing on the safety aspect dependent on the passengers who are on the flight.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: We have looked at this in the safety analysis, and we think it is feasible to maintain the same level of safety going down to a ratio of one in 50, but it would be premature to say that we will do that today, because we're just embarking on the consultation process.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Being that you already have that information available because you've been dealing with it, would it be reasonable for us as a committee to ask to have that information so that we can see it and maybe address some of the concerns we're hearing from passengers, as well as people out in the public who have this concern over what's going to happen? Then maybe we can address some of those concerns, rather than wait until it's a full-blown crisis in front of us. Maybe we can do some proactive work instead of waiting until everything is done, since Transport Canada obviously has that information.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Sure.

+-

    The Chair: You will have an opportunity to ask the flight attendants on Thursday, and the department on the Tuesday we return. I would prefer that you do it then.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay, but if they have the information, wouldn't it make sense to make it available to the committee so that we have it?

+-

    The Chair: Do you want to share that information?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes, I will. I'm quite sure it's available.

+-

    The Chair: Okay. Send it to the clerk and we'll pass it along.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Secondly, there has been ongoing concern over the number of inspectors that Transport Canada has in all aspects of the transportation industry. Could you tell me at this point in time what your numbers of inspectors are in relation to what it has been in the past, as well as to the number of inspectors that may be used from within the specific industry itself or within a certain company itself, rather than Transport Canada inspectors?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Are you talking about safety inspectors?

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Yes, safety inspectors.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I can confirm to you that the number of inspectors in all modes have been increasing over the last many years. Unfortunately, I don't have the exact numbers right now, but we can provide them to you in the near future. But it has increased.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Transport Canada inspectors?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Is Transport Canada utilizing inspectors from outside Transport Canada as well as within the system?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: They're not called “inspectors”; they are called “delegates”. But yes, we are using delegates in some areas. We are using delegates, for instance, to do flight tests for pilots. We are using delegates for other kinds of things.

    But that doesn't mean we have reduced the numbers. On the contrary, we have increased the number of inspectors, but we have tasked our inspectors to more important inspection types and audit types of functions. So we do more audits and less hands-on inspection.

¹  +-(1555)  

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mrs. Desjarlais.

    Mr. Hubbard.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I have a number of questions. To begin with, we have seen in the last decade probably the most significant changes in transportation in this country that we've seen in a century. With that, with the airports, you divested a lot of airports, which today are coming back to us in trouble because they have either lost their commercial flights or they don't have enough money to continue. We see that in practically all areas of Canada. With the ports, you've divested and continue to divest many of our ports. With our railways, you have changed the system in the acts that we passed by Parliament back in the 1990s.

    The result of all this is a problem with transportation, because today highways have become the main mode for a lot of communities. They need roads to get their grains to the main lines of the railways in western Canada. They need good highways to get to the airports. There are little ports that suddenly have lost their dredging and no longer are able to entertain the bigger ships that could transport their goods to market. As a result, we see a lot of changes. Above all, back at the provincial level, there's a tremendous demand on highway improvements and highway maintenance.

    Has your department done any studies to reflect on how this has affected the economy, mainly in the rural areas and small towns of Canada? I know you could probably give me an answer that would last maybe the rest of the afternoon, but are you studying that, and will there be changes brought to the attention of parliamentarians that might enable us to look at what we've done to transport? NavCan is out there, Mr. Gouk's old program, which he spent some years with and which he's talked about here.

    What has actually happened? Have we improved the system? Do we have problems that have to be rectified? What does the next decade have to offer with change?

    I see, Louis, you're keen to answer.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes, I'm very keen, because I certainly am pleased that you recognize that there have been major changes, and we're very proud of that. We thought we were the champions of program review when there was this objective of reducing the deficit and trying to think about things differently. I'm sure you've heard the saying that the solutions of today are the problems of tomorrow. The real test is whether the problems of tomorrow are smaller than the things we're trying to fix in the first place.

    I'm personally very convinced that, yes, we have problems, there are new problems that have emerged, but they're very minor compared to the problems we would be facing today if we had not made those radical changes.

    You mention infrastructure. Basically, you're talking about infrastructure funding. Where on earth would the government have found the money required to improve airports across the country? I'm not aware that there would be sources of funds available to support the kinds of major infrastructure improvements that we've seen.

    You're quite right that there are airports that are struggling, and we have a lot of representations from municipalities, from provinces, expressing concern looking down the road and worrying about the viability of small airports. In response to that, we have commissioned a study covering 93 what we call regional-local airports, and that is under Mr. Sully's responsibility. The results will be coming out very soon, and maybe Ron could expand a bit on that.

    My point is that I believe we've made truly transformational changes. Overall, I think the objective observers, including foreign observers, conclude that we've gone a long way in addressing funding issues for our large infrastructure. Highway funding remains an unresolved issue, and we're trying to find solutions with the provinces.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: With the major airports, for instance to me the Ottawa airport is really... I don't know who designed it, but I certainly hope that when I'm eighty years old I don't have to travel through the Ottawa airport. It's about a good quarter of a mile you walk from the time you leave your taxi until you get to many of the gateways within it.

    We hear about these great edifices that are being built. I think Vancouver now is talking about more money they need. It will be a bigger levy than the $5, $10, and $15. As a department, do you have any control over the...

    When we put that bill in place, we felt that some legal firm, some community service group, some mayor, and so forth, would form a corporation. But I wonder, have these corporations got out of hand since we brought in that legislation? I know you're not going to answer that question, but I think it's a concern we have to put on the record.

    I'd like to move now to port security. Some reports have found that the demands put on for the area of security are so great that their fees for using that port will become extremely high. It's my understanding that you are addressing this concern, and hopefully the security program that our country has in terms of maintaining surveillance over that port can be addressed with some help from your department.

º  +-(1600)  

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Thank you for asking the question.

    In all the material that came from the new government on December 12, there was a very specific reference to Minister of Transport being the lead on marine security. This is something that started about a year ago. We have taken leadership among the many departments and agencies involved in marine security. There are, I believe, 16 departments and agencies involved in one form or another in providing marine security. There is a very productive working group that's been focusing on that for about a year.

    That led to a first announcement of $172 million for security measures. We've continued to work, focusing particularly on ports. As you probably know, the American administration has invested considerable amounts of money--$600 million--to support security measures at ports. There's strong pressure in Canada from all ports, but especially those that are in competition with U.S. ports, to have the government also commit some funding to support similar measures.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ranger.

    Mr. Gouk, five minutes.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I'd like to go back to one point with regard to the flight attendants. You explained the requirements for flight attendants on board an aircraft. Given that you require them on board--they're an integral part of that aircraft safety--you put out regulations that limit the amount of time a pilot can fly.

    So you arbitrarily take a part of that work unit and tell them they can only work so long, but you have the other part of this unit, and now what are they supposed to do? They can't fly halfway back to Vancouver and get off. That would be a little harrowing. So obviously they are captive of the requirements that Transport Canada has put on for one part of their work unit.

    Why can they not be included in that work unit, as they had been considered, wrongly or otherwise, for many years? Why can they not simply be put on there? You're not necessarily saying that they are subject to the same work restriction, but they accept that they are part of the work unit that you have put a restriction on and consequently make it more harmonious.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: We don't have regulation for flight and duty time, or for duty time for all transportation workers. We don't have today duty time limits for technicians, for instance, or for mechanics.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: But you don't require a certain number of technicians to be in the airplane with the flight crew, who are limited by the number of hours you allow by regulation a flight crew to work. So why are they not considered? We're not talking apples and oranges here. We're talking flight attendants and pilots, nothing else. There are no mechanics on board that plane, there are no baggage handlers on board that plane. There are flight attendants and the pilots.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Most of the flight attendants in the country, except for a few companies, are unionized. For most companies and most unions, the collective agreements that are in place today require or offer working conditions that are far less than the limit that we would offer as maximum flying time for a month.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: You're missing what I'm saying.

    You restrict the number of hours a pilot can fly.

º  +-(1605)  

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes, we do.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Their job is to look after passengers in the plane the pilot is flying, under regulation that requires someone to look after those passengers. When you restrict the number of hours so that half of what makes their job work can count as work, you automatically then restrict their ability to work longer themselves—they are part of that unit. This is the way it has worked, rightly or wrongly, for many years, until someone said “Hey, wait a minute. They're not flight crew after all; let's change the regulations.”

    Why can they not be recognized as being an integral part of that unit that contributes to flight safety, given that they are constrained by the regulation you'll put out on the pilots themselves?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I think we have explained before, their role is different from that of pilots. They don't do the same kind of job. And we don't think that, for safety reasons, the regulations should—

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Don't bother answering any more. You either don't understand what I'm asking, or you're simply not willing to answer it.

    Let me go on to something different, because we're getting nowhere. We'll wait until the flight attendants...—unless somebody else has a better grasp of this problem.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: But the flight crew are not always together. They don't go to the same hotel; they don't necessarily do the same flights.

    An hon. member: Oh, oh!

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: No, I'm sorry, they're not... And they're not assigned to the same task; they don't require the same level of concentration.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: No, your answer proves you either don't understand or aren't willing to answer my question, so let's drop it.

    The next point concerns VIA Rail.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Well, to the extent that.... We can try to provide facts on this, but what Mr. Grégoire was trying to explain is that they don't always work as a unit. And to the extent that's true—

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Well, when a plane's in the air, they do. And where do they go when the plane lands and the pilot says “There, my hours are in”? They have just flown from Vancouver to Toronto. Now they need 50% more hours. So what do they do, fly halfway back to Vancouver?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: It is possible that they will continue, yes. It is possible that the pilots will disembark. It is possible that the flight attendants will do a different plane. They're considered two separate entities.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: They'll fly halfway to Vancouver and then say “Okay, I'm getting out, because my hours are in”?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Well, not halfway to Vancouver.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: No. Well, anyway....

    VIA Rail: the previous minister—

+-

    The Chair: You won't have time, because you have 20 seconds left.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Well, I'll leave it in their heads. VIA Rail's southern route is coming back.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: There has been some conversation among some stakeholders about getting some kind of card, whether it be at the port or at the airport, whereby it will be fast to go to the United States. Is there a willingness within the department to ask CATSA to do something similar? For example, if somebody's driving a truck and has to go to the port to pick up a load to take it to the airport, then pick up another load to take it to the United States, is there any conversation that the department is having right now to make sure that instead of having three or four different cards...

    I know the teamsters are strongly behind doing biometrics. CATSA is doing something along those lines. Are we looking at that? lt would certainly cut down on the number of cards you have, and it certainly has the support of even the unions.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: The first challenge for our department in the last two years has been to establish new contacts in Washington. As you know, I've been with the department many years. I used to deal almost exclusively with the U.S. Department of Transport. Now, a good number of contacts we need in Washington are with Homeland Security. We spent quite a bit of time in Washington last fall trying to establish those contacts, and in practically every meeting we had there was this whole question about how transportation workers are recognized and can enter restricted areas.

    For truckers, as you know, we focused first on what was most urgent, which is truckers who carry dangerous goods, because the Americans were coming up with rather stringent measures for transportation workers involved in dangerous goods transportation. We are dealing with that right now, but we are very much aware that the issue is much bigger. Just before coming to this meeting, we were meeting with Mr. David Bradley from the Ontario Trucking Association, precisely raising that issue. This is a top issue for the trucking industry, and we're very much aware of it.

    I don't know if Marc could elaborate on what we're contemplating. Perhaps you could expand on it.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: On the airport side, first of all, we asked CATSA to develop a standardized, uniform, better system for cards. We are going with it. This card will include, as you mentioned, biometrics. We're looking now at whether it's going to be the fingerprint or iris biometric. CATSA will be doing a pilot study on that. They just awarded, in fact, a contract for that purpose.

    For the other modes, we have not decided where we're going to go with national cards. We're talking with the United States. DHS at this time has the intention, with TSA more specifically, to issue transportation workers identity cards. But they're looking at anywhere between five and seven million workers in the United States. They don't have such a program today. They're studying it now. They want to go this route.

    We have established a committee of senior officials between TSA and Transport Canada. As a matter of fact, they were there last week discussing this very issue in Washington. Gerry Frappier has been discussing with TSA officials where to go. There's no firm decision yet on where to go with it.

    For truckers with dangerous goods, the United States is coming up with a rule that will require some kind of identification to carry dangerous goods in the United States. TSA is inclined to accept the FAST card, which is now being handled by our colleagues at the border agency. They would recognize the FAST card as an interim measure, but in the longer term they would prefer that we harmonize, with an identity card.

º  +-(1610)  

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Another question I have—and it's certainly something that will come to Mr. Sully's area—is can you give us a couple of examples of how the department is adapting to new technologies, and of some of the initiatives Transport Canada is undertaking as far as the environment is concerned, be it for marine, be it for cars or trucks?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully (Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs and Divestiture Group, Department of Transport): We're proud of a number of measures. One I could think of right off the top is the advanced technology vehicles program. It's a program wherein we are evaluating a number of highly efficient cars and trucks, typically not available in Canada at this time but available in Europe and other markets. We are evaluating them from a safety perspective, from a performance perspective, but most importantly from a fuel-efficiency perspective. We're having some success with the auto makers in encouraging them to bring those cars into the market.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sully.

    Monsieur Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    According to the Supplementary Estimates, you made a $1 million grant to the Ottawa International Airport for security enhancements. This brings me to a question about NAV CANADA. This private enterprise has announced talks on the closure of certain facilities. By some strange twist of fate, approximately 56 per cent of these facilities are located in Quebec.

    NAV CANADA is a private corporation that collects operating revenues from companies. You do not subsidize Air Canada. You subsidize airports, but not NAV CANADA. And you're going to allow NAV CANADA to shut down some of its facilities? You don't seem to sure about that.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: NAV CANADA is a private corporation with a very unique status. It is governed by rules of conduct put in place by the government when it was moving to privatize some of its operations. When NAV CANADA wishes to withdraw a particular service, it must first conduct an aviation study which consists primarily of determining whether the planned move poses any threat to air traffic or to the aviation industry.

    The study then goes to the Minister of Transport who ultimately makes the final determination as to whether the proposed initiative poses a security risk. The Minister of Transport reserves the right to review such matters. If a proposed measure would substantially lower the level of security, then the Minister can simply nix the whole plan.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: In this era of heightened security, there should be tighter security. That's why I find it odd that you want to shut down some facilities. It's possible to calculate how NAV CANADA collects operating revenues from companies. Airlines that generate less revenue undoubtedly try to cut back on the number of aircraft.

    This trend worries me, because ultimately, safety is determined by financial considerations. We're all familiar with the history of the airline industry. The government privatized airports in the 1980s and now, it wants to refocus on safety, at considerable expense.

    All I'm saying really is that they must run their plans by the department and that the final decision rests with you.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: We simply do not approve a proposed change if we feel that safety would be compromised in some way. Safety is Transport Canada's responsibility.

º  +-(1615)  

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Where exactly are they in the process? Are they only at the study phase? Have they made any recommendations to you?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: They're only at the consultation phase. They've released the list of all facilities where they are planning to reduce service levels. Since NAV CANADA is planning to hold consultations over the course of this year, or the coming years, the process could be a fairly lengthy one. An aviation study must be conducted for each proposed facility closure and the study must be submitted to Transport Canada. NAV CANADA must demonstrate that safety would not be compromised.

    I just want to say that NAV CANADA is not taking these steps to rationalize operations merely because it is a private enterprise. In the early 1990s, Transport Canada undertook to review service levels in order to guarantee the required level of service while rationalizing operations at the same time. A large number of facilities were shut down before operations were transferred to NAV CANADA is 1995.

    In 1990, Transport Canada closed the first FSS in Quebec, the Matagami FSS. We closed several facilities, including the tower in Baie-Comeau, along with a number of other stations, before transferring operations to NAV CANADA. The corporation is merely continuing the rationalization exercise begun by Transport Canada with a view to optimizing the fees paid by users. However, it would never compromise safety levels.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: It all depends on the level of safety. We could spend a considerable amount of time, Mr. Grégoire, discussing what the department has done in recent years. You're now having to invest substantial sums of money to offset the cuts that affected safety. You say you're cutting some of the fat, but I submit that these are direct cuts to services. This is a choice that the government is making. You claim that NAV CANADA is merely continuing your sound management practices. That doesn't reassure me.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I disagree with your comment that safety was compromised by the cuts we made. We reduced services, but the level of safety did not go down.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I submit that you maintained certain services because you weren't able to slash them at the time. You're telling us today that there is room still for more cuts. We'll see what the studies show...

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I would just add that further rationalization of service has been made possible with the advent of new navigation systems, such as GPS. This system has advanced to the point where ground navigation aids can be eliminated. Technology is such that remote communications have been greatly facilitated. Automated weather observation equipment is far more sophisticated that it was a decade ago. All of these advances allow us to rationalize our facilities while maintaining safety levels, and occasionally even increasing service levels. Things are now being done differently.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Merci, Monsieur Laframboise.

    Ms. Whelan, for five minutes.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.): Mr. Chair, I have too many questions for only five minutes.

    I'll take a look at the transcript, but just to follow up on Ms. Desjarlais's questions about the number of flight attendants, something doesn't seem right there for the flights I'm on. I know that Jazz planes have 52 seats and that there's only one flight attendant. So I'm not sure that I'm following what was discussed, or maybe I missed something in that discussion. I want to go into that again, so I'll take a look at the transcript.

    What I did want to talk about are small airports. First, I'd like to commend the Transportation Safety Board for the work they did and are doing on the very tragic crash that took place off Pelee Island back in January. My question won't be about that, because I understand that investigation is ongoing. But I'd like to know if there's not a way, through Transport Canada's direction, that we can look at smaller, more isolated communities that require flying to serve their public, and for whom it's the only way on or off--for example, an island like Pelee Island in the winter--and whether the ACAP funding could be changed, so that some of the components deal with the cost of the flights on and off, and perhaps keeping or allowing the service to be safer. We've looked at that funding several times, and there never seems to be a way for that airport to qualify for assistance.

    So I'm just wondering if there's something we could be looking at overall, not specific to that one location, but for smaller services across the country requiring that service to get in and out of a community, and for whom it is the only available aspect.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I'll ask Ron Sully to elaborate, but it just so happens that we're coming to the end of a five-year cycle on ACAP funding. As you know, the criteria that exist now are in terms of the number of flights per week or per year, and also the types of activities that we fund. They're all strictly safety-related.

    There's a lot of pressure, as you say, to move down that threshold, and perhaps also to broaden the types of interventions. So it is a policy decision that we would need to discuss with our minister.

    Ron, perhaps you could give examples of where expansion could be considered.

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: I would only add that with regard to Pelee Island, Pelee Island airport is a municipal airport and not owned by Transport Canada and therefore has been eligible for ACAP assistance. Since 1996 it has received about $2 million in funding from ACAP, covering items like the runway, the apron, taxi rehabs, and the purchase of heavy mobile equipment.

    I don't know what the current status is in terms of flight frequency, but as you know, there is a minimum threshold as well of 1,000 passengers a year. So as long as the airport meets that threshold, it is eligible to receive assistance under ACAP.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan: Sorry, with all due respect, that wasn't my question. I know they're eligible to receive assistance under ACAP and they have in the past. My question was about the sorts of things that aren't covered under ACAP and whether or not you'd be looking at those things; and specifically to Pelee Island, there is no provision for safety equipment within the ACAP funding that's available, such as de-icing equipment.

    I know there's an investigation, and I don't want to prejudice that ongoing investigation, but I do raise that because it may be municipally owned and it falls under a different category from federal transportation, but I know there are other places in Ontario and in Canada that may have.... Or maybe not. Maybe it's into a situation all on its own because it is so remote but not designated as a remote community. Maybe it's a weird category and doesn't meet all the different criteria.

    All I'm suggesting is as you're looking at the ACAP funding, as you're looking at the five-year review, I've written several letters about Pelee Island to the previous ministers of transport in the past, without, I would say, satisfactory resolution, to try to upgrade and do certain things at that airport with some assistance, because it is a very small island.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: As I said, as we are coming to the end of a five-year term for that program, and there is certainly every intention to continue the program, this is an opportunity for us to look at what is covered.

    As I said, it's strictly safety so far, but maybe there are certain aspects related to safety that have not been included in past programs. So I appreciate your point.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan: I'd appreciate it if you'd take a look at that.

    The other thing I want to pick up on is with regard to the advanced technology vehicles and the transportation decisions that we make in the automotive industry and whether or not we are moving towards any North American standards, particularly with regard to safety.

    We are an exporting nation for the automobile industry, and when we put in requirements that make it more difficult to export our vehicles, or make it more difficult to import, we start to cause the industry to take a second look at why they would invest in Canada, why they would build in Canada. The requirements are more stringent than they are in the United States. We recognize that we produce in Canada, I think, anywhere from two to three for every one produced in the U.S., depending on which company we're talking about.

    So I wonder if we're doing any kind of comparison study, if we've taken a look at any studies in the past, or whether there is going to be any movement on that.

+-

    The Chair: In twenty seconds.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: If I can speak for my colleague Marc Grégoire, with regard to safety, I think we do try to harmonize wherever we can, except where it can be demonstrated that a different standard in Canada would have important safety benefits.

    With regard to fuel economy, we have in the past basically tracked the standards that have been set by the U.S. administration under their legislation.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mrs. Desjarlais, five minutes.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I'll get my questions in first, and then you can choose how you answer them.

    First off, on the derailment or the crash of a train in B.C. last year or very early this year--I think it was last year--that resulted in a couple of deaths, there was criticism that the bridges had not been inspected properly, or had been inspected and work was not done. Can you tell me if Transport Canada has followed up on those inspections, as well as ensuring that all the other bridges have been inspected, and if work was to be done, whether it has been done?

    The other question is in regard to the contract that you said was just awarded by CATSA on the cards. Could you be a bit more specific as to exactly who got the contract and what the cost of the contract was? I'm not asking for the exact specifics of everything the contract is going to do, but the overall cost of the contract and whether the cost of that contract is being paid for out of the security fee, that the passengers who are travelling right now are paying for it out of that security fee.

    On the contract that you said was awarded by CATSA, where is the money coming from to pay for that contract?

º  +-(1625)  

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I'll ask Marc to answer that.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: The money comes from the CATSA budget. Last year the Minister of Transport requested that CATSA add two new programs within its budget for the screening of non-passengers and the establishment of a national identity card for workers. CATSA gets its money from appropriation, so this is paid for--

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: If you'll allow me to just sneak in there, you've just mentioned the establishment of an identity card for workers. But my understanding is the card you spoke of would be an access card for travellers.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: No. I talked earlier about contracts that CATSA has signed with security agencies in every city. Initially, they signed contracts with about 12 local agencies, but recently they reduced that to five larger agencies. I could certainly provide the names, but I don't have them at my fingertips.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I don't have the amounts either, but we will find that out from CATSA. I was asked the same question by the Kenny Senate committee a couple of weeks ago. At that time the contracts had not been signed, but the CATSA official told me they would sign those contracts at the beginning of March. We'll get back to CATSA and get you the amounts, the providers, and the exact sites.

    On the derailment at the bridge, we are looking seriously into that. We are actually doing our own review of this under the Railway Safety Act, with respect to CN practices relating to the condition of this bridge. We're also following up on CN's verification of the condition of all of its timber bridges. So we take this very seriously.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: My question was whether Transport Canada had inspected those other bridges to ensure that they were safe.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Ourselves? We are in the process of revising...but I can't affirm that we have inspected all of the timber bridges ourselves to this date.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: In light of the fairly strong suggestion that there was an issue with the safety of the bridge and that CN had possibly not made repairs, would it not have seemed beneficial for the safety of the travelling public to ensure that the other bridges--I could be wrong that there are over 500--made of wood trellis.... Are you telling me that since that accident those other bridges have not been inspected?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I'm telling you they've not been inspected by Transport Canada. But we've been talking with CN and have asked them to inspect all of those bridges. CN takes that very seriously, as their top priority is safety. So they ought to inspect their own bridges.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Hubbard, five minutes.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I was following along the same line, in terms of not only the bridges, but some of the other derailments. For example, in less than two months, the line between Montreal and Halifax has had derailments or problems three times. Once was with a bridge in Montmagny, and more recently there was a derailment of about 20 cars down in the area of Mont-Joli.

    Normally--I expect this is what happens--you'd ask a railway company to certify or inspect their bridges and rails over a certain period of time, with annual or biennial inspections. They must have some way of notifying Transport Canada that they monitored that line and certify that according to their own inspectors the line is in good shape. I'd like you to put on the record what you do there.

    Second, I'm a bit surprised by the answer you gave to Bev. You must have your own inspectors who would go back and do spot checks.

º  +-(1630)  

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes, we do. But she asked whether we have inspected all of the bridges ourselves, and I answered no.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: But I think your answer didn't really clarify the situation, in terms of your....

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: If I may, on the broader issue of safety, you are right that there have been a number of derailments, perhaps more than at other times. It's true that we had a fairly severe winter, but with the help of Ms. Wood, who's here, we organized a meeting at the very senior level at Canadian National to review all the safety issues we had. We came out of that meeting with a very detailed plan of what we needed to deal with to convince ourselves it was just a coincidence that there was such a high frequency of accidents. We've been very satisfied with the work to date.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: So you do inspections of reports that railway companies give you to see that you affirm. I guess that's what I'm trying to bring out.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: We look at those reports. We do audits of companies, where we go with a full team to inspect everything in a company. We do spot checks of equipment and operations. We have inspectors throughout the country who do those spot checks. We have railway inspectors, for instance, who will walk the rail, inspect the condition of the rails. Safety is our number one priority, so of course we do that. But we cannot be everywhere.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: I'm not being critical, I'm just trying to get you to put on the record what you actually are doing.

    You know we've been very fortunate with these derailments that they've been mainly freight trains and not passenger trains, because we might have had a lot of very serious injuries.

    I'm not sure that all the companies.... You know, we didn't have a terrible winter; there must be other factors, like speed, long trains--we see a lot of three-engine trains that are hauling long freights. Is their rail line being maintained to the same degree that it was?

    Some of what I'm talking about are the short lines. Are they maintaining their track as well as our two major operators did in the past?

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hubbard.

    Mr. Gouk, for a four-minute round.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Moving to rail, first I do want to deal with the VIA Rail question that I suggested. The previous minister described himself with a self-professed passenger rail net, which is probably two words too many. He pushed very hard for VIA Rail to get back on the southern route, Calgary to Vancouver. Is there anything happening in the department right now in any way, shape, or form with regard to VIA Rail going on that southern route?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: The short answer is no, and I'm very familiar with that file.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Okay, what's the long answer? Is it different?

    I have just a few quick questions.

    Going back to the CN rail bridge thing, I have a little concern about the response to Ms. Desjarlais's question on whether you had done anything with regard to it. Your response was no, the CN takes bridge safety very seriously. I have to assume they did so before that bridge collapsed, but it collapsed nonetheless. So what's changed since that bridge collapsed, either with CN or yourselves?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I think we explained that in the question before. We are more present, especially now that CN is on strike. We are increasing the number of inspections we do, unannounced inspections, throughout the country, but we cannot inspect every mile of rail or every bridge ourselves.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: The question was, what bridges? That's always a concern for some people. Here was an example that said these concerns were valid, because the bridge collapsed.

    Now, as Charles said, fortunately it wasn't a passenger train that happened to be going across the bridge at the time--obviously a weight difference, but still fortunate.

    So, yes, you can't be everywhere at one time, but if a rail is weak or a tie is loose, that's one thing. This was a bridge that collapsed. So what is different now, since that bridge collapsed, in terms of the kinds of specific inspections Transport Canada is doing or policy that has been developed in coordination with Transport by CN Rail?

º  +-(1635)  

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: On the specifics, I would submit that we do that in writing or perhaps give a more complete answer when the minister comes back in two weeks, if that is appropriate for you. We could give you details on the number of inspections and regular meetings we've had with CN to address this issue.

    I have asked my DG of rail safety, for instance, to work very closely with all the rail companies, especially with the year we've had with derailments. This needs to be addressed. The deputy and I met with senior management of companies to make sure that safety was their number one concern and that they would address it.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: If I may add, because it was an accident, there's a TSB investigation. Obviously they will make a recommendation, and we always act on those recommendations. So unless we feel there's an immediate risk--and our view is there is no immediate risk--we will certainly act on the recommendation of the TSB.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: When we find out that a railway is not safe for a certain speed, we give a notice, an order to the railway, the company, to reduce the speed. Sometimes we request that a portion of the railway be closed.

    So we act either on the findings of our own inspectors or on the findings of the company itself.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Just as a heads-up for the next round, it will be airport rents and ACAP.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Gouk, would you like a written report on what happened since with the bridges, or would you like to deal with it when the minister is here?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: We'll see what happens when the minister comes, but I'm interested specifically on what's changed.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Whelan, for four minutes.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Just to follow up on my last question, it's my understanding from my conversations with the automotive industry that indeed there are some challenges between Canada and the United States with standards. I understand we base our issues on safety, but I think somehow we have to look at those standards together so that it's not a requirement, for example, for headlights to be placed one direction versus another. There's a huge cost in that, and we're losing opportunities and competitiveness.

    Certainly we don't want to jeopardize safety, but I think together we all have the same goal in mind, both in Canada and the United States, in North America. Hopefully we can try to resolve some of these issues.

    You did mention the issue of ATVs, and when we talk about advanced technology vehicles we also have alternative-fuel vehicles. I understand--and maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong--there is some funding that's available right now for some demonstration projects. Is that through Transport Canada or is it through a different fund?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: There are certain funds available, you're correct. In general, it's not through Transport Canada, but with regard to fuels in particular, the government in its climate change action plan did allocate $100 million for demonstrations of ethanol technology, new ethanol plants. The government has announced contributions to, I think, about seven facilities to date. They haven't allocated all of the money, but they have allocated a good portion of it.

    There is also another one with regard to demonstration of natural gas technology in fleets, and that one will be run by Natural Resources Canada.

    I'm sorry. There's another one under way with regard to biodiesel, which is another alternative fuel option.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan: So none of them are under the direct authority of Transport Canada?

    I want to follow up on the whole issue of where Transport Canada fits in, and I'm trying to understand this with the automotive sector.

    Perhaps I'm a bit rusty on this, but my understanding is that Transport Canada does have some research dollars available, or did in the past, and when we talk about the whole safety issue, we know that, for example, the largest cause of death and injury in children is automobile accidents. When we've had companies come forward offering to do research, we've turned them down. Is that because Transport Canada no longer has funding available?

    The last letter I saw from a previous minister suggested that Transport Canada was going to do its own research on that, yet I know we still rank about 18th in the world, so we haven't progressed much in improving that statistic. I know there are automobile companies that are doing a lot of research in Canada. I just think there are good partners out there that we're not taking advantage of, and I'm quite concerned. We talk a lot about health among Canadians, yet the largest cause of death and injury in children is automobile accidents--not any disease, not cancer, not any of that. We seem to be ignoring what's been offered to us.

º  +-(1640)  

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I spoke earlier about how proud I am of achievements under program review, but I honestly believe that when it comes to research and development, we probably went too far.

    We reduced our budgets considerably. We kept a small unit in Montreal. We didn't want to close it altogether, but we agreed that with the few dollars we had we would invest them in safety, because that's our number one priority.

    With the direction the government is going now with a strong emphasis on innovation, we strongly believe we need to beef up that section. We started with some internal decisions within my authority recently where we are restructuring within the department, because there is R and D being done in several places in the department. We're trying to bring this together in one place, and frankly, we're trying to be a bit opportunist in the sense that there may be funding available elsewhere. But if we come up with good ideas--I always think there's a market for good ideas--and we can get funding where it's available, we can start to reverse this trend that was quite unfortunate.

[Translation]

+-

    Le président: Thank you, Mr. Ranger.

    You have four minutes, Mr. Lamframboise.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: The Supplementary Estimates refer to $44 million in compensation for lost airport lease revenues. To what can this be attributed?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: The revenues are derived primarily from two sources. First of all, as you know—and this is important—lease revenues go directly to the department. When air traffic is down, revenues are down as well. That's something we have to contend with.

    Furthermore, the government has agreed to defer 10 per cent of the leases and the money can be repaid over 10 years. This eases the burden on the airports, but it means the department must absorb a loss of revenue. Deferred lease revenues are paid to the department.

    As for losses incurred as a result of declining air traffic, we have had to absorb these costs. Today, we're seeking authorization to reallocate money from other areas of the department to meet our budget needs. This explains the transfer of funds between real property and operations.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Have you had to you assume any other costs? Are these higher than the figures listed here?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes. The shortfall owing to the decline in air traffic was in the neighbourhood of $22 million. We managed to cover this out with our internal budget, but in order to do so, we had to transfer $15.5 million from real property to operations. Basically, we're seeking authorizing for this accounting practice.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: And so you have. Are you still considering the possibility of lowering leases?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes. As you know, we've been assessing the situation for some time now. Various options are being weighed.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Are all airport leases calculated in the same manner?

+-

    M. Louis Ranger: The approach taken is the same. However, it's a known fact that when a contract is negotiated, some compromises have to be made. The formula vary from one airport to the next, which explains why in the case of airport where calculations are done on a per passenger basis, leasing charges are higher.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: As in the case of the Montreal ADM.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: ADM is one of the airports with the lowest lease charges.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Based on the number of passengers handled?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Correct.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Karygiannis, four minutes.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: I'll pass. I'll give more time to Mr. Gouk.

+-

    The Chair: No. No bartering today.

    Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Recognizing Transport Canada's sincere acknowledgment that their first priority is safety, I know that you must have a record somewhere of what the weight capacities are of all those bridges that the trains are travelling on. There must be some specifics in place. I'd be interested in seeing that information be made available.

    As well, I would be curious to know--I assume you have this on record too--what the weights are of some of those trains that are now travelling with 130 cars on them. If I could just get that information, I'd appreciate it.

    Now, my understanding is that the preliminary Transportation Safety Board report on that bridge collapse was that this work needed to be done and there was no record of that work being done. My understanding is that this was in the preliminary Transportation Safety Board report.

    Recognizing that, I'm coming back to you, asking what process you have in place to ensure that when work is to be done, it's followed up on and inspected by Transport Canada.

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: On the first request you made, we certainly will give you what we have, but it likely will be third-party information.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Third-party as in...

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: As in CN.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: So it's not Transport Canada who would be setting the limits as to what those bridges--

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Oh, is that what your question is on? If it's standards, then yes, we will provide that to you, but as to the actual weight of the train and so on--

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: No, the weight of the train is fine, but the weight capacity of the bridge is information that comes from Transport Canada.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I'm not sure about that. We'll have to confirm that.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: You're in charge of the safety of the transportation industry in Canada, and you can't tell me if you have the weight capacities that those bridges should be taking?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: It's the responsibility of the operators of those bridges, but we'll try to get the information for you.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Perhaps I can clarify. We may well have that information on record, but I would think that this would be third-party information provided by Canadian National, in this instance.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: But as the safety regulator, would you not set the limits for how much weight those bridges could take, just as you set the guidelines on how a road must be to take certain wear and tear? You don't do the same for bridges?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: If you're talking about the standards, we definitely will provide these to you.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Whelan.

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan: I have four minutes, so perhaps what I'll do is ask my questions, and if you can't answer them in that timeframe, you can send me the answers.

    I'd like to follow up on my comments about research. I understand that there were changes in the way government operated, but I would hate to see us ignore the partners who are out there. The government has made a number of private-public partnerships over time, and I think that Transport Canada--for instance, for the research area specifically--should be looking at the partners out there and the offers that have been made without going to the expense of setting up another department or another area, or hiring more people, for that perspective.

    I just raise that because I think it's important. My question was not whether or not there was going to be a reinvestment.

    My other question would be about the environmental assessment process that takes place under the act that governs federal transportation. Is there a way to follow those types of processes as they're under way, and if so, where and how can one do that? I'm thinking particularly of the binational study that's ongoing in southwestern Ontario. I understand that some of those companies or processes have begun their EA process, and refused to wait for the binational study. Some may have put them on hold. I'd just like to get an update on how and where I can find that information so that I can follow this.

    With regard to the binational study, I understand there is a process going on right now with regard to open houses and discussions. I would also like, as a member of Parliament, to be able to be involved in a study that affects my area. Currently, all of the meetings have been held when the House has been in session. The next open house is budget day, so I won't be able to attend that one either.

    So from that perspective, I would like to be able to participate in that process as the member of Parliament who represents the area. I'm wondering about not only advance notice of meetings but also whether there can be some consultation so that as public representatives we can also have access to those meetings that are taking place.

    My third or fourth question--I've forgotten where I'm at--has to do with the Toronto airport. As someone who must travel through this airport on a regular basis, twice a week, I find the situation very frustrating. Having travelled around the world over the past two years, I find it extremely frustrating that the only place in which I have to change terminals to the extent I do is Toronto. To get from Windsor to Ottawa, I must change terminals.

    I understand that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, or whatever it's called, may be responsible for the management, but there must be some passenger issues and safety guidelines that come into play so that passengers do not have to... not “suffer”, because I wouldn't call it that, but “go through” what I went through on Sunday to get where I was supposed to go. I know the weather conditions were bad, but when gates are filled up and they ship you to another terminal, force you off at a spot, and load you like cargo, and you have to wait for a bus to ship you back to the terminal so you can get on another bus to go back to the terminal you already landed at, because they're at the wrong part of the airport, and then you miss your flight in the middle of that and spend much more time in the lovely Toronto airport...

    I understand that they manage the administration, but there must be some rules and regulations on how passengers are treated through this whole process. And it's not any disrespect to the airline. The weather conditions weren't good, and I'm used to that, but I'm just trying to figure this out in my mind. I hear that with the new airport, that's not going to change. I'm still going to change terminals. After being told when this first started two years ago, “No, no, with a new airport, everything's going to be fine”, now I hear that it's not going to change. I'm going to continue to feel like a second-class passenger, or a cargo passenger, or whatever else you want to call it, as I do this hurdle to get to Ottawa every other week. I mean, it's fine, but I do think there needs to be some type of consideration for passengers.

    For instance, there's no consideration for disabled passengers who go into terminal one. It's an old facility and an old building. I think it's very humiliating for someone who is disabled to have to get on the airplane, because you have to go down the stairs with this chair thing. There is no escalator system.

    I just think there are a lot of safety issues that are not being dealt with. I don't know who's responsible for them, but it's a concern I have.

º  +-(1650)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Whelan.

    Now for the last round, Mr. Gouk, two minutes.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: First of all, on the airport rent deferment, I want to make it clear that I don't hold any blame to you. That was probably one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard a minister come up with.

    You lost your revenue coming in. The airlines got absolutely nothing out of it because the airports still had to show it as an expenditure. They simply put the money aside and are sitting waiting to repay it. There will be a little bit of interest on the money. They said thank you very much, but it did the industry absolutely no good. Concerning the money that was deferred, when money is paid in airport rents, does that go to Transport, or does that go into the consolidated revenues and you simply operate your budget?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: When the amount is deferred they don't have to pay, so the money doesn't come in. We still are caught with a gap, and we're being reimbursed for that lost revenue.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Would you get revenues directly from that, or do you get revenues strictly from government and that revenue goes to the consolidated revenue?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: The money comes directly from airports to Transport.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Then there is a sort of dedicated fund in existence within the government structure.

    The other thing, because we haven't time for anything else, goes back to the bridge weight question that Ms. Desjarlais asked. The weight factors for these bridges, is it full load for the train, or is there any consideration for wheel-bearing point load weight? Which method is used for determining the restrictions on a bridge?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I'm sorry, we're going to have to come back to you with a response.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Do you understand what I'm asking for?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Absolutely, yes.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Is it the weight of the train that's on the bridge, or is it the point load of the wheel itself?

+-

    The Chair: We would appreciate a report on that through the clerk, please, for all members.

    Mr. Tonks.

+-

    Mr. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    On the Quebec-Windsor corridor, is there a strategic plan that projects the commercial and passenger use for say the next ten years and the key infrastructure improvements at Windsor tunnel and bridge bimodal collecting and distribution areas throughout the corridor, and just the step-by-step infrastructure improvements that need to take place? Has the private-public partnership type of funding approach been factored into that? Is there a strategic plan that chronologically looks at the pressure points and then starts an implementation plan with respect to accommodating that corridor?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I would mislead you if I said we had a very strategic plan. We do have much better data than when we used to do roadside surveys. We're much more sophisticated about all types of vehicles. I'm sure you're aware that last fall VIA Rail came up with a proposal to have a higher-speed rail. In that context, there was considerable work done in terms of doing projections on the passenger side of things. Also, they had looked at the freight side in trying to make better use of what we call the rail plant between Quebec and Windsor. There is some interesting work that has been done, but as I said, I would mislead you if I said we had a ten-year plan as to where the bottlenecks are.

    Certainly the provinces are doing very serious work, because they come forward with requests for funding proposals on various road segments. We certainly know where the bottlenecks are, but it's not as sophisticated as your question implies.

º  -(1655)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    My final question concerns the Canadian Transportation Agency and its ability to resolve noise pollution problems. I believe certain parts of Bill C-26 address this issue. It's apparent the bill will not be adopted. Why was special legislation not brought in? This is done on a regular basis. Many complaints have been filed and you have no power to take action. The Agency cannot force companies to resolve the problem. I feel your request is reasonable. Why was special legislation not tabled?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Bill C-26 is an omnibus bill that attempted to resolve a wide range of problems. It looked to be the most effective tool we had at the time the proposal was made. The government will need to make a decision in so far as the next step is concerned. Clearly, some shortcomings will have to be rectified.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Would it not be possible to bring in legislation on short notice? Time is running out.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    For the record, I should mention that Ms. Kristine Burr, the assistant deputy minister from Montreal, joined us about an hour ago.

    You had a comment you wanted to make on the other issue. I'll grant you a minute.

+-

    Ms. Kristine Burr (Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy Group, Department of Transport): Merci, Monsieur Bonin.

    I just wanted to respond to Mr. Tonks' question about whether there had been much long-range planning done on the Windsor part of the Windsor-Quebec corridor. The first phase of the binational panel study did attempt to do demand forecasts about ten years out, and further out as well. We'd be happy to get you a copy of that report if it would be helpful.

+-

    Mr. Alan Tonks: I appreciate that.

-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Thank you very much, everyone else.

    I will report to the House that we dealt with the estimates. We had 18 interventions, and every one of them was on the estimates. We don't have a quorum, so I won't table them, and they will be treated as having been dealt with.

    A voice: Or at the next meeting.

    The Chair: We could do that on Thursday, if we have a quorum then. We could pass the motion then.

    Thank you very much. The meeting is adjourned.