I call the meeting to order.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you all very much for coming in for an eight o'clock start this morning. There are so many of you here, so we really appreciate it. I'm sure you didn't appreciate the call for eight o'clock, but thank you all very much for making it here this morning.
We gather here this morning to study a number of votes from the supplementary estimates (A), 2018-19: namely, votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a and 20a under Department of Transport; vote 1a under Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; and vote 1a under Canadian Transportation Agency.
I'm delighted to welcome the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, along with officials from Transport Canada. We have Michael Keenan, deputy minister, who has been here often to visit us, and André Lapointe, assistant deputy minister for corporate services and chief financial officer, as well as Lawrence Hanson, assistant deputy minister for policy.
From the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, I would like to welcome Neil Parry, vice-president of service delivery, and Nancy Fitchett, acting vice-president of corporate affairs and chief financial officer.
From the Canadian Transportation Agency, I'd like to welcome Liz Barker, vice-chair, and Manon Fillion, chief corporate officer.
We also have representatives from three other departments.
From the Department of Western Economic Diversification, we have Barbara Motzney, assistant deputy minister, policy and strategic direction. From the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, we have Sheilagh Murphy, assistant deputy minister, lands and economic development. From the Department of Indigenous Services Canada, we have Scott Doidge, director general, non-insured health benefits directorate, first nations and Inuit health branch.
Welcome, everyone. Thank you very much for coming.
On vote 1a under the Department of Transport, Minister Garneau, you have five minutes, please.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the invitation to meet with the committee. As you know, I am joined by several people today, as the chair mentioned.
I'm pleased to be here to talk about some of the important work being done in the federal transportation portfolio, which includes Transport Canada, Crown corporations, agencies and administrative tribunals. Funding for these federal organizations helps to make Canada's transportation system safer, more secure, more efficient and more environmentally responsible. I, and the organizations in the federal transportation portfolio, remain committed to sound fiscal management and solid stewardship of government resources, while delivering results for Canadian taxpayers.
Transport Canada's supplementary estimates (A) for 2018-19 total $32 million. This figure includes funding for a variety of programs. There is $10.5 million in new funding. Most of this new funding will be used to transition to the Government of Canada's holistic and transformative system for impact assessment and regulatory decision-making.
New and incremental resources will allow Transport Canada to meet its responsibilities, which have been expanded under the new impact assessment and regulatory review system. This includes a transformative approach to working with indigenous peoples to advance reconciliation, recognize and respect indigenous rights and jurisdiction, foster collaboration and ensure that indigenous knowledge is considered.
This system includes modifications that would create the Canadian navigable waters act, which is currently before Parliament as part of Bill . The changes would ensure that the public right to navigate is protected in Canada's navigable waters and would restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards.
These supplementary estimates include a reprofiling of funds totalling $21.6 million. This reprofiling includes funding for safety-related capital infrastructure at local and regional airports, for a variety of rail safety projects under our rail safety improvement program and for maintenance on ferries on the east coast.
Transfers from Transport Canada to other federal departments in the supplementary estimates total less than $1 million, and there is $840,000 listed for statutory employee benefit plan costs related to the aforementioned projects.
I am very proud of Transport Canada's ongoing work.
I'll take a few moments to highlight a specific priority, which is investment in our country's transportation corridors, particularly our trade corridors. “Trade Corridors to Global Markets” is one of the five themes of transportation 2030, our government's strategic plan for the future of transportation in Canada.
We can have the best products in the world, but if we can't get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers. We are working with stakeholders to address bottlenecks, vulnerabilities and congestion along our trade corridors, and the trade and transportation corridors initiative is a significant part of this effort.
We announced the trade and transportation corridors initiative in July 2017, including the national trade corridors fund, which is a cornerstone of this initiative. The national trade corridors fund is designed to help infrastructure owners and users invest in our roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, port facilities and trade corridors. Through this fund, our government is investing $2 billion over a span of 11 years. We have already announced funding for projects, including railway corridors, airport runways, port facilities, bridges, highways and more. These are critical transportation assets that support the movement of goods and people in Canada. The national trade corridors fund has been accelerated, as you know, to enable more projects to address bottlenecks to trade diversification.
Our trade corridors are important for moving domestic trade to international markets and for helping Canadian businesses to complete, grow and create more jobs for the country's middle class. Canada is a trading nation, and one in six Canadian jobs depends on international commerce. For our economy to succeed, we have to ensure that our products, our services and our citizens have access to key global markets. This is an important reason why I am proud of the work Transport Canada is doing throughout the trade and transportation corridors initiative and the national trade corridors fund.
But Transport Canada is not the only organization in the federal transportation portfolio. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA, is also an important part of the Canadian transportation landscape.
CATSA is seeking to reprofile $36 million of capital funds in supplementary estimates (A) this year. The majority of this capital reprofiling—approximately $29 million—is for postponed equipment purchase and integration work for the new hold baggage screening system. This is part of CATSA'S capital life-cycle management plan to align with revised airport project plans.
My mandate has not changed since being named Minister of Transport three years ago. I continue to ensure that Canada's transportation system supports economic growth and job creation. I continue to work to ensure that our transportation system is safe and reliable, and facilitates trade and the movement of people and goods. I continue to work to ensure that our roads, ports and airports are integrated and sustainable, and allow Canadians and businesses to more easily engage globally.
The financial resources sought through these supplementary estimates would help the organizations in my portfolio as we continue to ensure that our transportation system serves Canadians' needs now and for years to come.
Thank you. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to thank you, Minister Garneau, for joining us today for 90 minutes. We're very pleased to be able to ask many questions. We look forward to your answers. I also want to welcome the departmental officials you've brought with you. There's quite a team here today. I do appreciate the fact that they've taken the time to join us this morning.
I know that we are studying the supplementary estimates and government spending, but I would like to ask some questions around a bill that we studied recently. It was referred to us by the finance committee. It was part of the budget implementation act, Bill .
There were a couple of divisions in the budget implementation act that I think come directly from Transport Canada. They were buried within this budget implementation act between pages 589 and 649, in divisions 22 and 23. They contain substantial changes to the Canada Shipping Act and the Marine Liability Act.
One of the witnesses appearing before the committee for the Chamber of Shipping noted that clause 692 of this bill appears to be another mechanism with which to implement a moratorium on specific commodities through regulation and interim order, not legislation as the government has already done through Bill . The witness noted that this contradicts what should be the government's objective in providing a predictable supply chain.
Quite honestly, Minister, there is no question in my mind that the inclusion of this clause in Bill will have a further chilling effect on Canada's oil and gas industry. My question for you this morning is, can you assure Canadians that this will not be yet another measure to undermine Canada's oil and gas sector?
I thank my colleague for the question.
Of course, the parts in Bill that she is referring to have to do with modifications that we will be making to the Canada Shipping Act of 2001 and the Marine Liability Act. These were referenced specifically in the budgets of 2017 and 2018 in the context of the oceans protection plan, which is a very important government initiative.
Canada relies on safe and clean coasts and waters for trade, economic growth and quality of life. We also recognize that our oceans hold a special place in the traditions and culture of Canadians, notably indigenous communities. We are taking decisive, concrete action to ensure that our oceans will continue to be enjoyed by all Canadians today and for generations to come.
To support safe and environmentally responsible shipping, divisions 22 and 23 of Bill propose legislative amendments to enhance marine environmental protection and strengthen marine safety. That is the purpose of those two.
I'd be pleased, Mr. Hardie, to comment on that. In fact, my deputy minister is involved with WESTAC as well, as a government representative.
As you hint, it is an organization that is strongly focused on the fluidity of transportation on the west coast. Of course, the port of Vancouver, as we all know, is by far the largest port in Canada. There is significant concern about bottlenecks in the Lower Mainland and all the way into the inland port of Ashcroft. To ensure that we are moving goods as efficiently as possible to this very strategic port, WESTAC fulfills an important function in that respect.
Certainly, the dialogue about where the bottlenecks are is crucial to our decision-making process when we award funding—through the national trade corridors fund—to particular projects, where the purpose, I might repeat, is to reduce bottlenecks or eliminate them. The input from WESTAC is an extremely important input.
I agree with what you've just expressed. We do need to not just zero in on specific projects.
There are a lot of specific projects that are recognized as bottlenecks, some of which we addressed in our first awarding of funding under the national trade corridors fund. We announced them during the course of the past few months.
But you're right. We should look at the bigger picture. I believe that when our department judges the different applications for funding for the different bottlenecks that are in the Lower Mainland, each time we do look at the big picture with the idea of optimizing, because that's the most important criterion: How much will this help to make the transportation more fluid?
As you know, the port of Vancouver and the railways—there are three class I railways that come into it, as well as a very large amount of trucking in a very busy area where there are a lot of people going about their lives and driving their cars—really have to be looked at in a way that we can optimize for the taxpayers' money, because there is more demand than there is money. I think that in itself forces us to try to optimize towards what will provide the best long-term solution in terms of that transport fluidity.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to the minister and all the folks from the various departments for being here.
I am going to turn the conversation a little bit. I come from Saskatchewan; obviously, access to affordable transportation for rural and remote communities and people's ability to travel are concerns for me. I have raised these a number of times—in particular, the safe transportation for indigenous women and the support we provide for public transportation outside of large urban centres. People may not necessarily have heard what I've said, but I see the bus service in western Canada as our subway. I feel it deserves support and leadership from the federal government.
It's been almost two years since the Saskatchewan Transportation Company closed and 253 communities in Saskatchewan lost service. Folks listening today should understand that this means more than just having an inexpensive way to get to the city to do some shopping. We're talking about students' ability to go to post-secondary education, people's ability to be employed, the movement of medical supplies between urban centres and smaller centres, and of course people accessing health care. Then, of course, the other shoe dropped. We lost Greyhound service in northern Ontario and the rest of western Canada.
I have a couple of questions to get an update on what I feel is the federal government's role in this and the parameters around it. I understand jurisdiction, but it's also my feeling that any level of government can lead on an issue to bring people together and help provide a service to communities while co-operating with other levels of government. I just put that out there to encourage you to think about what role the federal government has.
Minister, concerning Greyhound, we have heard that anywhere between 87% and 90% of the routes have been covered. I'm wondering if you could let us know where the routes are that currently are not being covered and what the federal government's plan is to deal with that. In particular, I'd be interested in hearing where those routes are and if one province is really being left out in the cold, so to speak.
Thank you for your question.
Since July, when Greyhound announced that they were pulling out of the west and a little part of northern Ontario, our ministry did get together with the provinces. You're right that, even though transportation by coach has been on the decrease for a very long time, there are vulnerable populations that depend on it, such as people who have no other choice financially and people in remote regions. There has been a coordination between the federal and the provincial. When I say federal, we've also brought in Indigenous Services Canada and CIRNAC, as well as ISED, so that we could look at this challenge that is in front of us.
As you point out, there was a take-up on 87% of the routes that were dropped by Greyhound, and that's a good thing because they feel they can make a go of it. However, you're right that there are also some that haven't been. We can provide you with the details of the actual trajectories we're talking about that haven't, but we have a plan there as well. If you look at what's been lost by Greyhound leaving, mostly they're in Alberta and British Columbia. We have worked with those two provinces, so that if, at some point, they go out with a request for proposals to find a line through a competitive process, we would be there to assist them financially. That is the plan with respect to that.
On indigenous and remote communities, which is through ISC, we have put in place a plan to work with indigenous communities that want to also set up a commercial capability themselves, so we feel that process is under way as well.
That's only a short-term solution. We need a long-term solution, so part of what we announced a few weeks ago also includes, within two years, coming up with a more national...we're talking about all 10 provinces and three territories.
Did you want my comments on it?
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. David de Burgh Graham: I'd like your comments on it.
Hon. Marc Garneau: Well, I thought it was extraordinary. Beyond even space flight with humans, I think the ability to land a rover or a vehicle on Mars is the most technically demanding challenge that any spacefaring nation faces. Only the United States has ever been able to land and have an operational rover or experiment on the surface of Mars.
Now, it's early days; they've landed, but they still have to check out all the systems. I think it is a testimony to the brilliance of NASA, particularly the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which runs all of these things. I'm very excited and will be watching very carefully what scientific results—they're going to look underground—come out of it.
I wish space were under Transport, but I haven't been successful yet with my colleague .
Thank you for being here this morning.
I'll preface my question by stating that, as Mr. Hardie recognized, when we took a trip to Niagara as well as Vancouver, we learned a great deal about the changes happening within world trade, the transport of global trade and the products contained within. We learned that our trade corridors need to be updated.
Let's face it, at the end of the day, we found out quickly how content and complacent this nation has been for the past many generations. To some extent, we are now sitting on archaic transportation assets. There's a need to be very strategic and become more of an enabler, utilizing those assets. As you mentioned, Minister, this will strengthen our nation's overall global performance. I congratulate you. After decades of contentment and complacency, with the economy suffering as a result, the efforts and the direction you're taking are much welcomed, especially in Niagara, which is one of the nation's strategic trade corridors.
With that, Minister, I have a question. Taking into consideration transport, infrastructure, labour, global affairs, environment, international trade, finance, economic development, fisheries and intergovernmental affairs and relations, how are you and Transport Canada utilizing a whole-of-government approach to invest, integrate, optimize, and update our fluidity when it comes to mobility and global trade?
Thank you, Mr. Badawey.
If I may, I will commend you for the work you're doing in the Niagara area with respect to trade corridors. That is an important entry point, particularly for trade between Canada and the United States.
I would answer your question by saying that the recent fall economic statement gives a strong hint of where we're looking at trade with respect to a whole-of-government approach. There were of course measures in our economic statement that were focused on trying to make our Canadian enterprises more competitive. The accelerated depreciation on capital investments was a good example that we believe will create jobs. Of course, if you create jobs and you make more products, you have to move those products. The significant part, although it may not have been mentioned too much, was the fact that the government took some of the funding for out-years on the national trade corridors fund and moved it forward so that we would have access to that funding.
As you know, we've had one competition. We awarded $800 million to 39 projects. There is such a strong demand for this, because there's a recognition that it is crucial for the economy to move our goods efficiently, that we welcome the fact that money for later years has been moved forward so that we can continue going out and having more projects under the national trade corridors fund, which will improve the movement of goods and will be good for the economy.
I think the government has clearly recognized the crucial function of transportation in getting our goods to market. If we don't, our clients will go elsewhere.
Transportation is a highly technical area. There are a lot of examples of where transportation is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
An example would be the fact that we're exploring truck platooning as a possible future method of transporting a great deal of merchandise by truck. Of course, truck platooning is where a platoon of several trucks are following each other, but there is a coordination between the trucks that's all done via technology so that they are all following each other. This is something that is being done throughout the world at the moment. Many western countries are developing this capability.
We rely on science and technology to implement this kind of system. Having been in a platoon of trucks in a demonstration at a Transport Canada facility, I must say that it is a very impressive capability. It's also fixed in such a way that the separation between trucks minimizes the aerodynamic drag on the trucks behind the first one, so you can get fuel economy as well.
Canada is working on that kind of development, not to mention autonomous vehicles, which is another area, or drones, which is also a very strongly emerging field.
In all of those cases, we need to make use of the best available technological capability, as well as the science that will help us deal with these new disruptive technologies.
Thank you, Minister, for being here and for being here for 90 minutes.
However, I only get six, so I'd like to ask some quick questions and hopefully we can use committee-of-the-whole rules, where the answers don't exceed the length of the questions.
I want to ask you about transportation 2030. You stated, “We can have the best products in the world, but if we can't get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers.”
When we were in Vancouver.... The port of Vancouver has something like two billion dollars' worth of construction under way today to help get products to customers. However, the CEO of the port of Vancouver said that if Bill had been law two years ago, not one dollar of that investment would be made today.
How can you make the statements that you made about transportation 2030 and still rationalize a bill like Bill being pushed through by the Liberal government?
As for the tail end of your comment, unlike your party unfortunately, we believe that pollution implies costs and that we can't ignore it. It's not free, as your party seems to believe.
Yes, on airports, better is always possible. There's no question. With the increase in the amount of travel by air in this country, there is more and more pressure on our airports. I was very glad to be at Toronto airport recently, which won the prize for the best large airport customer service in North America. However, with more and more passengers, there are more pressures on CATSA, the security organization responsible for ensuring that when you go to the airport—
I'll preface my answer by saying that many areas of transport are shared jurisdictions between provinces, in some cases municipalities, and the federal government. Now that more people are walking and biking and there are even bike paths in busy cities, the issue of vulnerable road users that you refer to, pedestrians and cyclists, has brought to light the fact that there have been fatalities and serious injuries, particularly, as you say, from heavy vehicles. In my riding, two people have lost their lives as a result of that.
About a year ago, I decided to work with the provinces to see if we could address this growing problem. As you said, there was consultation. There was a tour of several cities, as well as online input from Canadians, and that led to a report that was published in late summer. That report identified over 50 measures that could be implemented to improve the situation if different levels of government, including the federal, chose to implement them. Some would have a greater effect, and some would have perhaps a lesser effect, but the actual assessment of each measure was not done. It was mainly a listing of all the things that could be done at the three levels of government.
That's a very important document, and we will be following up when I meet with my provincial and territorial counterparts in January to take the next step and make decisions about which measures we should all consider putting in place to make roads safer for Canadians. I'm looking at some federal measures as well, and we will have more to say once we've had that meeting.
Thank you for your question.
I have seen the letter from Premier Notley that was sent to the Prime Minister, and I recognize the situation Alberta is in. The request was for additional train capacity. As you know, oil by train is approaching 300,000 barrels a day, and there was demand for an additional capability of 120,000 barrels. We're looking at that, but the situation is the following.
It is something that can be worked out with the railways. Most of the tanker cars are owned either by the oil companies or by shippers; they are not primarily owned by the railways. The railways provide the locomotives to move things. It is something that is a possibility if a deal is done on a commercial basis with the railways.
At the same time, as I mentioned a little earlier, we want to make sure that we move our grain, and other products as well. It's a balancing act that needs to be accomplished. I am definitely aware of Alberta's need and desire to move more oil until we can have more pipeline capacity.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would ask you, Minister, if you could, to table with this committee more information about the mandate of the working group that will look at transportation in western Canada. Greyhound has closed, which you referred to. I'm wondering what kind of representation there will be, and I would encourage you to have regional representation. I'm wondering about the timeline and about the intended outcome for that working group. I would like to encourage that working group to look at service and safety standards when it comes to bus transportation.
I would like to raise with you, Minister, the fact that I have heard from people in my province about some of the bus services that are up and operating in western Canada dropping people on the side of a highway. That is not safe. I know you would agree with that.
I'm wondering as well if you could let us know what indigenous communities have come forward with proposals to offer bus service to their communities or surrounding communities.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Transport Canada is requesting close to $10.4 million in funding in these estimates. That's a combination of votes 1a, 5a and 15a, and it includes “[c]ontributions to support the participation of Indigenous groups in the navigation protection system and to establish Indigenous advisory groups”.
Minister, your government is already facing a lawsuit from the Lax Kw'alaams Indian Band as a result of a lack of consultation prior to the introduction of Bill . As is widely known, but swept under the carpet, we heard again in committee last Tuesday from witnesses that American environmental groups funnel money to Canadian organizations to oppose resource development and the expansion of pipeline capacity in Canada. These same groups probably had much to do with your government's decision to introduce Bill C-48 in the first place, as there are no economic or environmental reasons to do so.
In the estimates, as I've said, your department is asking for the amount of $10.4 million, and I'm wondering if you can tell us what measures will be taken to ensure that these advisory groups will not be populated or influenced by American-funded special interests.
Thank you for your question.
I can tell you that these consultations are consultations with Canadian organizations and with Canadian indigenous groups. As you know, and as you mentioned in the context of Bill , there are certain coastal first nations that don't agree with the government's decision on the moratorium, but you also know that there are coastal nations in British Columbia who agree 100% with the decision that has been taken. Recently, in fact, they've been providing testimony to the Senate committee that is looking at Bill C-48, where this bill currently resides.
It's an enormously complex situation, but we feel that the input from indigenous groups is extremely important. Does it mean that it is unanimous? No. It's very difficult when we're talking about a very large number of different coastal nations or indigenous groups in any project, including the TMX, to get unanimous consent, but we are committed to continuing to consult in a meaningful way with first nations and, where we can, to try to address their concerns.
Well, it has to do with this magic well.... No, we'll just move on.
I have a couple of issues: trucking and VIA Rail.
Truck drivers, the training, the fitness for operating and the oversight of trucking companies, especially the long-haul ones, would fall into your realm of interest. Obviously, concerns have been raised after a number of high-profile incidents, but on a day-to-day basis, with the growth in trade, truck movements, just-in-time delivery and a lot of other things, what are the trends? What are you seeing? What are we doing about it?
We're doing a lot about it. We announced the implementation of electronic stability control, which is extremely important. It has to be put into trucks because it helps to minimize the possibility of a rollover. That is an important piece of technology.
We've also implemented regulations that will force the implementation of electronic logging devices. This is to ensure that we accurately log how many hours a driver has actually driven, because there have been proven allegations in the past that drivers suffer from fatigue when they exceed the limit on how many hours they can drive. This leads to the possibility of accidents. That's another area where we are making changes.
Another one that recently came up, unfortunately in the tragic context of Humboldt—and this was in a story on CBC—was that only one province in Canada actually has minimum entry-level training requirements before a trucker takes their test. That is Ontario. You have to have 100 hours of training before you take your test. We think that this is something we need to implement in all of the provinces. It is a provincial jurisdiction, but it is an item that I have signalled to the provinces we need to look at. We will be discussing this in January. Those are the initiatives there.
On the trade side, we also recognize that when a truck leaves from Halifax to go to Vancouver, there are a host of different regulations as it moves though the different provinces, which have to do with dead weight on the roads themselves, with the potential use of wide-base tires. These are irritants or impediments in terms of maximizing our trade. That is something that we want to work on with the provinces to improve the internal trade within our country.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for joining us this morning, Minister.
The last time I saw you was in my riding of Trois-Rivières. You were there for a forum organized by the Union des municipalités du Québec, or UMQ, to speak to experts on rail transport development. No offence, but I must say I was a bit disappointed by your speech. You focused entirely on rail safety, which is an important issue, to be sure, but we would've liked to hear your vision for developing the rail system. For instance, we would've liked to hear more about the expansion of passenger rail services and possible accommodations involving the Quebec government and its transportation electrification efforts. You made no mention of that.
If you don't mind, then, I'm going to ask you about a wish the UMQ representatives expressed at the very end of your speech. Is your government going to follow through on the VIA Rail high-frequency train project soon, or does it plan to make it an election issue in the upcoming campaign?
I want to state that we look forward to seeing the come here on December 6. I am sure that discussion can be continued then with .
Second, I want to take this opportunity to thank the committee, especially our Liberal colleagues, as well as Mr. Jeneroux, Mr. Liepert and Mr. Aubin of the Conservative Party and NDP, for coming down to Niagara and recognizing the Niagara-Hamilton trade corridor and the assets that are attached to the same. We are within a day's drive of over 44% of North America's annual income—New York, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh; and, in the Ohio area, Cleveland and Toledo; as well as Detroit, Chicago, Indiana, and of course back into Ontario with the GTA, and Montreal.
With that, and with how robust it has been, continues to be, and will be, especially with the investments we're looking at making within that trade corridor, I want to ask the minister, with all the work that's being done with all the partners throughout Niagara-Hamilton, and some of the investments that are being made, including the one he announced the other day in Hamilton, what his expectations for us are as we work within that team down in Niagara-Hamilton with respect to strengthening our Niagara-Hamilton trade corridor.
Thank you for your question, Mr. Badawey.
I think there is strong potential in the Niagara Peninsula. We're talking about a very large population density in that area in Canada. There is a great deal of trade done, not only by trucks crossing the border, but also using the St. Lawrence Seaway, which is something we feel is under-exploited at the moment. There's tremendous potential in that area. I think there is growth potential with respect to port activity, seaway activity and trade corridors on land.
I hope we can continue to work, with your implication and those of your colleagues, to identify where we can spend money wisely to grow that capability. At the same time, we're always taking into account that we have to look at all the other factors, like the environment.
There is potential there that has not been exploited. We were delighted to make that announcement at the port of Hamilton, which I think is good news for the port of Hamilton. I congratulate them on their forward-looking vision, in terms of growth.
I wanted to conclude by tying a bow around this Liberal environmental plan.
In your words, we exempt the small airlines from a carbon tax because their profit margins are slim. We will put a carbon tax on the large airlines. We will also put a carbon tax on small businesses, even though their profits are slim, but we will exempt 90% of large emitters because, in the words of the parliamentary secretary, they would leave Canada if we put a carbon tax on because it would be a job killer. Then we use Stephen Harper's emissions targets.
That's the Liberal environmental plan as I can see it. That doesn't scare me very much. What does scare me is this: I would like to know if you or your department did an impact assessment on what a carbon tax would do to the transportation, and the business community relying on transportation, as part of the discussion leading up to the carbon tax.
If you did, would you table it with this committee? If you did not, will you admit that you just rolled over and played dead to the environment minister, who's running energy, who's running transportation and who's running this government today?
Pursuant to Standing Order 81(5), the committee will now dispose of the supplementary estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 under Transport Canada. These are vote 1a under Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, vote 1a under Canadian Transportation Agency, and votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a, and 20a under Department of Transport.
Do I have unanimous consent to deal with all the votes in one motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
CANADIAN AIR TRANSPORT SECURITY AUTHORITY
Vote 1a—Payments to the Authority for operating and capital expenditures..........$36,038,397
(Vote 1a agreed to on division)
CANADIAN TRANSPORTATION AGENCY
Vote 1a—Program expenditures..........$1,671,892
(Vote 1a agreed to on division)
Vote 1a—Operating expenditures..........$10,927,693
Vote 5a—Capital expenditures..........$1,438,265
Vote 10a—Grants and contributions—Efficient transportation system..........$6,049,065
Vote 15a—Grants and contributions—Green and innovative transportation system..........$3,131,670
Vote 20a—Grants and contributions—Safe and secure transportation system..........$10,549,935
(Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a and 20a agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall I report these votes to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you all very much.
Thank you to the departmental officials for being here.
We will now suspend for a few minutes so we can have our other witnesses come to the table.
I'll call the meeting back to order.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are doing a study on assessing the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of major Canadian airports.
Welcome to the witnesses. Thank you for being here. At least the weather co-operated enough to get you here. Whether you'll get home or not, who knows, but at least you got here.
From Halton region, we have Jeff Knoll, councillor from the town of Oakville and the regional municipality of Halton.
From the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, we have Hillary Marshall, vice-president of stakeholder relations and communications; Michael Belanger, director of aviation programs and compliance; and Robyn Connelly, director of community relations.
From the Toronto Aviation Noise Group, we have Renee Jacoby, the founding chair, and Sandra Best, the current chair.
Mr. Knoll, we'll start with you. Please limit your comments to five minutes, because the committee always has lots of questions. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you at this standing committee today. My name is Jeff Knoll, and I appear as a long-standing member of the town of Oakville and regional councils, representing the people of ward 5. I also serve as the Halton appointee on the GTAA's Community Environment and Noise Advisory Committee, known as CENAC.
Through my work on that committee, I am highly engaged on the issue of aircraft noise and the resulting impacts on the residents of Halton. As you may know, Halton region comprises the city of Burlington and the towns of Halton Hills, Oakville and Milton. We are a growing community with a population of over 548,000 people, located a mere 15 kilometres to the west of Toronto Pearson Airport.
We acknowledge Pearson's role as an economic engine and the international gateway that links Canadians to the world stage. Each day, thousands of Halton residents travel to Pearson to go to work and to travel for business and pleasure.
However, as an elected municipal official whose constituency is deeply affected by aircraft noise, I am here before you to contend that we have not achieved the proper balance between the ongoing operations of Pearson, its future growth plans and the resulting impacts on Halton residents.
I further contend that aircraft noise is highly detrimental to the well-being of Halton residents. I hear this consistently from residents in my ward and throughout the region.
Recently, as I knocked on doors and spoke to my constituents during this fall's municipal election, we often had to pause our conversations as aircraft shrieked overhead. No other words were necessary at that point, because one of the key issues in my ward was flying right above us.
Some might say that these residents should have considered this when choosing to live in a community under a flight path. In the case of north Oakville, it was not on a flight path until merely six years ago. The changes to the downwind leg, the incessant low and slow overflights, and the resulting noise and nuisance were imposed on these established neighbourhoods as a result of Nav Canada's 2012 flight path changes—changes, I might add, that were made with no consultation and virtually no notice.
I should note that the noise complaints that elected officials are receiving are coming from all across the Halton community. Recently, I was invited to speak at an aircraft noise meeting in Milton. We watched incredulously as one aircraft after another flew over and shook the little community centre to make a final noisy descent into the airport, as if to punctuate the very purpose of the gathering.
Aircraft noise in Halton is disrupting the ability of our residents to go outside and use their backyards, to enjoy our parks and our hiking trails, to talk with their neighbours, to get a full night's sleep. In short, aircraft noise is compromising our residents' quality of life.
I must acknowledge that there have been some positive engagements on this issue over the past few years, including three major studies by the GTAA and Nav Canada. However, while appreciative of this engagement, residents are not satisfied with the pace of implementation of the proposed mitigating measures coming out of these studies. Residents want and need relief today, especially as the airport looks to become a super hub to serve a projected 85 million passengers in 2037, up from 47 million today.
My time today is very limited, so I will submit additional written comments and suggestions to your committee, but I want to raise one last issue before I conclude.
The GTAA is engaged with regional airports in southern Ontario with the objective of solidifying Pearson's role as the main international hub, with regional airports providing complementary passenger and cargo services. While a potentially positive goal, it does raise the question of whether the proper jurisdictional partners, accountability structure, and incentives are in place to ensure that the GTAA adequately brings aircraft noise into the equation along with Pearson's economic interests.
We need the engagement of all levels of government, potentially with Transport Canada playing the lead role, to help in the long-term planning and routing among airports in southern Ontario, a process that needs to focus on a triple bottom line of social responsibility, economic value and environmental impact.
Furthermore, I would like to suggest that it is time for the government to consider a second major airport in the GTA, potentially making use of the Pickering lands that were assembled for this very purpose over 50 years ago. Such an initiative would spread the aircraft and vehicular traffic, as well as the economic development benefits, to the eastern GTA.
Madam Chair, as elected officials we are constantly challenged to find the proper balance between sometimes inherently opposite interests. In the case of Toronto Pearson, Canada's largest airport and the surrounding communities, we're in a situation where we're not achieving the balance between the economic imperatives at Pearson and the impacts of aircraft noise on our community. If we can't achieve that balance, we're at a real risk of seeing the continued and permanent erosion of the quality of life in Halton and across Canada, a prospect that does not serve the interests of governments at any level.
Thank you for your time.
Madam Chair and committee members, good morning.
I'm Hillary Marshall, vice-president of stakeholder relations and communications for the GTAA. With me is Robyn Connelly, the director of community relations—her office manages noise programs—and Mike Belanger, director of aviation programs and compliance.
Thanks for the opportunity to present today and for the work the committee is undertaking to understand the impact of noise. The GTAA shares this goal.
Toronto Pearson is working towards a bold vision: to be the best airport in the world. Today, we're the fifth most connected airport in the world, and we play a vital role in connecting Canadian cities to each other and the world. One in five Canadians uses Toronto Pearson for air travel today. Because of our connectivity, we believe that being the best airport in the world starts closer to home, working hand in hand with our community and in lockstep with our aviation partners and industry experts.
Today, I'd like to tell you about a few of the initiatives that we've developed in collaboration with our community and industry partners.
Every five years, we develop a noise management action plan, which lays out how we will address noise over a five-year cycle. In our previous noise management action plan, we accomplished the following. We removed the 10-nautical-mile boundary that limited where we would accept noise complaints from; this initiative in particular was pushed forward by Councillor Knoll of Oakville, whom you just heard from, and he also pushed to expand the committee membership to include the regions of York, Durham and Halton. We also undertook a review of the locations of our system of noise monitoring terminals and added eight more for a total of 25.
Our 2018-22 noise management action plan is even more ambitious. It has 10 commitments that will make Toronto Pearson a leader in aviation noise management. We created this plan following an international best practices study of 26 comparator airports around the world. The study was conducted for us by Helios, whom you will hear from at a later date, I understand. Additionally, we engaged more than 3,000 residents to help shape the plan by giving us their input through workshops, and we assembled a resident-led reference panel specifically to provide input on noise and airport growth. This plan has been well received by the community and resident groups, and we're now taking action to implement the plan. As part of our implementation, we're continuing to update our community and resident partners, as well as our elected officials.
A key initiative of our plan is the quieter fleet incentive program, which targets noise from aircraft. The A320 family of aircraft has a high-pitched whine related to air intake. This can be eliminated with a simple retrofit. Airlines around the world, such as Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways and easyJet, have already made this change. We've written and engaged with our carriers to ask for their support and to advise them that we are moving ahead with an incentive program in 2020. We continue to work with our airline partners to make this happen as soon as possible.
In 2015, we started working with NavCan to develop what has become known as the “Six Ideas”, specifically designed to reduce noise in our adjacent communities. A description of these six ideas has been provided to you, but I'd like to take a moment to highlight a few of them.
Ideas 1 and 2 were implemented on November 8 by Nav Canada. These are new nighttime flight paths for approaching and departing aircraft. Idea 5 involves alternating east and west runway use on weekends to provide some predictable respite for communities on the final approach or initial departure. This program was tested this past summer. We're examining the results, and we look forward to making those results public shortly.
Following the guidelines of the airspace change communications and consultation protocol, our community partners were involved at every stage of this three-year study. In the last year alone, we reached out to 2.9 million residents via print ads, had 250,000 online views and connected with 160,000 people by phone. About 1,000 people participated directly in surveys. We also met with elected officials throughout the process to ensure that they had information in order to respond to community questions and concerns.
We're seeing positive impacts and also a positive response from the community. In addition to working with our community and industry partners, we have also engaged with experts in the field of noise management and annoyance to guide our work. We're working with the University of Windsor to understand noise annoyance. The committee heard earlier from Professor Novak and Ph.D. student Julia Jovanovic. We are supporting their research to better understand how the community experiences noise effects and how we can work better to mitigate that. We also engaged Helios to be our technical consultant on the delivery of our five-year noise management action plan. Its role is to help us ensure that we're finding responsible and innovative solutions based on international best practices.
In closing, Toronto Pearson is continually looking for ways to manage its noise and annoyance. We do this by balancing our commitment to our neighbours with the pursuit of our vision of making Toronto Pearson the best airport in the world. In 2017, we served more than 47 million passengers and directly employed nearly 50,000 people at our airport. We have the second-largest employment zone in the country, and the airport facilitates more than 6% of Ontario's GDP.
Toronto Pearson's growth is important to future jobs and economic development. We know that it cannot be done without the help of our neighbours and partners. We're working hard to find a way that we can all grow and prosper together.
Thanks again for the opportunity to represent the airport. I look forward to your questions.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee.
I'm Sandra Best. I'm chair of the Toronto Aviation Noise Group, TANG, established in 2012 in response to Nav Canada's airspace redesign implemented at Toronto Pearson in February of that year.
I am joined today by my colleague, founding co-chair Renee Jacoby.
We are a facts-based, multi-community residents group committed to finding fair, safe and equitable solutions.
I live in High Park, Toronto, and my colleague lives in midtown Toronto, so you're probably asking yourselves why we are addressing your committee.
Well, we are here to dispel the myth that aviation noise is limited to the communities in the vicinity of airports. Imagine, if you will, that you wake up one morning in your relatively quiet neighbourhood, as far as 20 kilometres from the airport, to the torturous sound of low-altitude airplanes deploying their flaps and screeching their brakes directly overhead—it's not “annoyance”.
You call the airport and learn from the noise management office that you now live under what we at TANG affectionately term a “super highway in the sky”, and you can't register a noise complaint because you live outside the radius for reporting. Even with improvements made to date, residents are fatigued, and many have simply given up on using the process.
Imagine the shock you feel when you find out that there was little or no consultation and your elected representatives knew nothing about it: from no aircraft one day to more than 88,000 flights per year in 2017 on our runway alone, which does not include either arrivals crossing en route to other runways or departures. The data in our briefing materials speak for themselves: high flight volumes, high noise monitor readings and disproportionate runway utilization.
You are further shocked when you become aware of the deregulation in 1996 of our air navigation services to Nav Canada, a private company. There was no legislated protocol to challenge the decision made in 2012, and being asked to attend ineffective meetings of the Community Engagement and Noise Advisory Committee, or CENAC, to solve problems at the local level yielded no meaningful change.
What has been achieved to date?
There was the voluntary communications and consultation protocol in June 2015, which we believe must be amended and legislated.
There was the Helios report, the independent Toronto air space review. We commend Nav Canada for commissioning it, as it has built bridges with stakeholders and created dialogue and discussion. We support much of the work carried out by Helios, and we collaborated with them throughout the process. However, we were disappointed that the GTAA, in an attempt to appear more consultative, formed a widely panned reference review panel and deferred better runway utilization to them, among other things.
Also recommended was the restructuring of CENAC, and we understand that the GTAA is about to unveil their new look next month. We haven't been privy to the deliberations involved, but we are cautiously optimistic about the results.
When TANG first engaged with both the GTAA and Nav Canada, public relations were atrocious. Concerns were summarily dismissed and information difficult to obtain. It was very clear that airlines were the customers and that citizens living under aviation routes were an afterthought. We have seen positive changes within Nav Canada in the last two years and more willingness to work with community groups. In particular, we commend Blake Cushnie for his commitment to the process.
However, these changes did not come about voluntarily but as a result of years of hard work and lobbying by members of the general public. Therefore, we continue to believe that consistent, active and objective government oversight of Nav Canada is critical.
There is still much to be done. Pearson projections estimate total movements in excess of 600,000 by 2037, which means that arrivals on our runway alone would increase to a staggering 120,000 per year. Clearly, this is untenable.
Our recommendations are in your briefing materials. We ask that you take these into consideration. In particular, we ask for acceleration of the retrofit of the Airbus A320s and the adoption of the Helios recommendations with regard to night flights.
We believe that Toronto is one of the great livable cities of the world, and we support its economic development. However, as Canadians, we pride ourselves on our belief in justice and fairness, and it is neither just nor fair to ask some communities to bear the burden of concentrated aviation noise while absolving others. Solutions simply must be found.
We invite your questions, and we look forward to the results and recommendations of the study and the 's response.
Thank you again for this opportunity. It's deeply appreciated.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here. In particular, I want to thank my former colleague, Jeff Knoll. We served together on council.
I know you've been engaged in this issue for many, many years—well, since 2012, when the flight paths were changed—and have seen some positive steps over the last few years.
There have been multiple studies and technical reviews done by Nav Canada, the GTAA, Helios consulting. I had arranged for them to do one of the consultations in Oakville North—Burlington. Community members have been engaged, in particular David Inch and Richard Slatter, from my riding—your ward.
I'm wondering, in all of that, what role the federal government should be playing. We're talking about arm's-length agencies here. How do you see us becoming engaged to ensure that some of the...? There are pilot studies that are being done right now.
I'm wondering if you could comment a little further on that.
I'd be happy to. Thank you for the question, Ms. Damoff. I appreciate my member of Parliament asking me a question.
There are a couple of things here. First of all, I acknowledged in my presentation that there have been these studies. There has been some good work and great recommendations coming out of them. As my friends from TANG indicated earlier, there are a number of initiatives left on the cutting room floor—to use a film term—that need to be embraced, specifically the night flight restrictions and the restructuring of the noise advisory committee, which, of course, is apparently in process, and I understand that it's about to be announced.
To get directly to your question of what the government could be directly involved in, I think it would be in potentially taking back some of the responsibility from Nav Canada in terms of addressing these issues. Nav Canada is an independent agency. I understand the formation of an independent organization to deal with difficult issues and decisions. Certainly the issues around safety are paramount and need to be kept at arm's length. Safety should never be a political or neighbourhood decision. Certainly, issues around quality of life and the impact of the operations of any federally regulated service or organization need to be taken into account in decision-making. I would urge your committee to consider changing the terms of reference for Nav Canada so that there can be more direct involvement by the government and the people's representative in some of those decisions.
While we have some terrific ideas on the back burner and things that are working, they're not moving fast enough. There are not enough teeth to make them happen quickly enough. GTAA is certainly doing their level best, but there needs to be more involvement by both Nav Canada and Transport Canada.
I understand you asked a question earlier today about Air Canada, and that's a great example. There was a big flurry about the announcement and press release, and everybody was very happy, but the implementation of the retrofit with the noise-reducing vortex generators is happening at a molasses-like rate. Getting involved and basically having Nav Canada take a more direct role in considering community impacts needs to happen.
The last thing, of course—I mentioned it in my comments and I want to re-emphasize it, because I don't want to see this ignored—is thinking beyond. Those of us who are elected sometimes have to think in terms of what we can accomplish in our term. We need to think of a multi-term solution to this, which is potentially a second airport. Most major jurisdictions around the world have multiple airports in their jurisdictions. The federal government, in its wisdom of the day, 50 years ago, assembled lands for that purpose. It's time to dust them off and start moving in that direction.
Once again, I'll go back to my previous responses.
First of all, I think the answer to that is absolutely yes. I agree, and I said this in my statement. I fully acknowledge, respect and appreciate the economic contributions made by Pearson and the GTAA organization; however, there is a disconnect between the ambitions and the desires of the board of the GTAA to serve more customers and the impacts on the ground.
I do believe that the federal government, as the people's representatives with this in their jurisdiction, needs to be taking a direct role in this. As I stated, it is having a deleterious impact on the quality of life of surrounding communities. Once upon a time, the airport was built in an area where there was nobody around it. It was built in the middle of a farmer's field, essentially, in Malton. Those times have changed.
The impacts of what takes place at the airport need to be considered in the context of the people who live there in an adjacent community or, like my friends from TANG, in midtown Toronto.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to each of the witnesses for being here this morning.
My first question is for Ms. Best and Ms. Jacoby, as well as Mr. Knoll.
Since beginning our study, we have heard from witnesses who suffer the consequences of aircraft noise, and I have absolutely no doubt as to how disruptive it is for them. However, no one has been able to show me a noise level airports and citizens' groups could agree on. The only standard I have found thus far is an average noise limit of 55 decibels, as recognized by the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. We all know, though, that aircraft noise is well in excess of 55 decibels.
Do airport authorities and citizens' groups at least agree on the instruments used to measure the noise so that the data gathered by each side is even accepted for discussion? Again, wouldn't it be up to Transport Canada to be more transparent and provide access to all the data that would allow for a conversation based on the same information?
I think that's a very valid question. Thank you.
I think the issue we all face at the moment is that because GTAA and NavCan are private companies, there is no freedom of information involved, and therefore we cannot see how decisions are made, so we cannot understand how they're trying to do things. In terms of the decibel levels, there has to be some clarity around that. There has to be some agreement among everyone on what that looks like.
More importantly, when we speak with pilots and when we do our research, we find there are two kinds of aircraft noise. There is the noise when you're coming down to land. There's not much you can do about that. You're coming in to land as an aircraft. But, there is a lot you can do about the downwind, which is the initial descent before you turn. I think within that, discussions about decibel levels can be had. Agreements can be made. Planes can fly more quietly and they can fly higher.
Some of that has been undertaken already, but the decibel issue itself is a massive problem worldwide, and I don't think you're going to find agreements anywhere in airports. Those are not happening.
Thank you all for being here.
Our role as MPs is to facilitate when there is a problem. Listening to TANG, I understood that there has been no consultation, so I think all these MPs are here because their constituents have been complaining. When they complain, we send them to your information sessions, etc. The concern I've heard from DMRI has been that whenever they come up with solutions, they've been disregarded. I think it is important for GTAA to actually listen to the concerns.
Sandra Best, I heard you say that the Helios recommendation is what you would like to go with.
My question to GTAA is this. What is the problem in meeting the Helios recommendation? That was commissioned by the minister and by you guys, and it's a consultative process. It took a lot of people to come to the table, to listen to you guys and to listen to the constituents, and yet you have not come up with a solution. What is preventing you from bringing that solution? I am very comfortable if you could say you're balancing the needs of the constituents with safety and with environment issues, but you need to talk to people. You need to listen to them. You need to give them the credence they are due. I think TANG also commissioned a pilot project and you have the report.
Could you give me some answers that we can take back to our constituents?
Airport operations are very complex, and making changes to our operations takes time. Our friends at TANG, as well as Councillor Knoll, mentioned that changes are slowly happening. I think that is a reflection of the complexity of the issue.
You asked a question about a series of different studies. There was one study, a Nav Canada independent airspace review, that was undertaken by Helios. That was released in September 2017. Nav Canada responded with an action plan about how they would enact the recommendations of that report. They are doing that on an ongoing basis and do updates about that at each of our CENAC public meetings. That does happen regularly.
As part of our own practice, we also commissioned Helios to do a noise management best practices benchmarking study for us, which we undertook, and which forms the cornerstone of the noise management action plan we are currently pursuing. We are very much taking the recommendations that came out of that study and exploring how to implement them. It's also important to know that we also conducted consultations around what it would look like and what our guiding principles need to be for consideration. We did that through a randomly selected residents' reference panel, which TANG also mentioned, but we also did that through a series of workshops throughout the summer of 2017 to gather that feedback and guidance.
Finally, you asked about the report from David Inch. His recommendations, as part of the report that went to Nav Canada, fundamentally form the six ideas that Hillary referenced in her remarks. Those six ideas are currently being implemented. It is frustrating that things are happening at a slow pace, but good projects are going forward.
I'm going to build on what Yasmin and Pam were saying, but I'll also ask a question directly from my constituents.
Ms. Best, thank you for being here and for illustrating the fact that concerns about airport noise are not germane only to those people who live near an airport; they're germane to people who live under a flight path. That flight path has increased dramatically over the last six years or so. Thank you for your advocacy.
I want to give you a chance to comment on a few things, because I'm sharing my time with Mr. Hardie.
The first point is about the accountability piece. We're hearing about CENAC. We have concerns about CENAC, and it's about the fact that, from your perspective, it's ineffective, as I understood from your submissions. You're not seeing meaningful change. Can you elaborate on that a little, in particular on what we've just heard about industry partnership as we move forward with CENAC? What does that mean to you?
Also, from what was just mentioned about the randomly selected citizens' reference panel, I understand there were concerns about it that were expressed by TANG at the time.
Yes, it's a big subject and there isn't enough time today to cover all the issues around CENAC, but I will talk about the reference panel that's been mentioned.
Imagine, if you will, that you've been working on these noise issues for seven years. There are many constituents right across the GTA who have spent time and effort to work on this. We work day and night. For some of us, it became a full-time job. When we start to see some kind of political action, we thank our representatives for it, because, frankly, that's what it took. Before political action, there was no movement.
We find out, however, that recommendations from the Helios report, the GTAA part of it, are going to be referred to a new panel that's going to be set up with 36 members who are going to be randomly selected across Toronto. They're going to be given four days of training and orientation. Now, they are fine people, I'm sure, with the very best of intentions, but they don't have any background information. We are asked to go and present to them for half an hour or an hour, and I think three or four other groups are asked to go as well.
Well, you sit back and you think to yourself that if they really wanted a reference panel that was going to have good recommendations and a real understanding of the issues they were tasked with commenting on, they would go to groups that have been involved in this for many years, groups that have educated themselves on the separate language, what you might call “aviation language”, and on issues of concern in airports worldwide. They would at least put members from those committees on the panel, and then they might do some random selection of other people...but four days? One of those days, I believe, involved orienting them with the airport, visiting the towers. This is not real consultation.
When the word “consultation” is thrown around, what we've found over the years is that it's not real consultation. It's consultation with predetermined answers. We've all been there. We've all been to organizations that do this. They know what they want. They consult about that particular subject matter, and then they staff the tables—as I understand they actually did—with industry experts. What are these good-hearted people going to come up with in terms of recommendations?
They send out a survey across Toronto. Again, I spoke with the group hired to facilitate and they told me directly—I have this on record—that the GTAA designed this survey themselves and this consultative group was only there to carry out and facilitate. Those questions were all moving towards predetermined answers. This was theoretically a massive consultation and a group of people who were used to come up with recommendations on runway utilization, for instance. Well, runway utilization is a complicated thing. It's not as simple as it might sound. Where are the crossover points? How will this affect other people? When you talk about “predictable noise respite”, what does that look like? That's how we ended up with alternating east and west runways on alternate weekends, and deluging people, who were already deluged, with additional traffic on those weekends.
Therefore, when we talk about consultation, we have to be clear that it's meaningful consultation, and meaningful consultation, in our estimation, has been excessively hard to come by, other than the Helios report.
Thanks very much, Madam Chair.
I want to welcome all of our witnesses here this morning. I should have done that in my first intervention.
I'm going to direct my questions to you, Ms. Marshall and Ms. Connelly.
Perhaps you've touched on this, but I just want to confirm. Other witnesses who have testified before this committee as part of our study have suggested imposing a total ban on night flights, as has been done at Frankfurt Airport, or imposing a steep surcharge for night flights.
What impact would such a policy have on your airport, and how would a ban or surcharge on night flights affect your ability to compete with other large international airports nearby, such as Buffalo?
I guess I'd start by saying that there are many types of traffic that comes in during the night. There are about 50 to 53 flights that come in at present during the nighttime hours. A small number of them are cargo flights. About 1% of the night movements would be related to cargo. There are some sun destinations, some Asian and international destinations, as well as domestic routes.
Within each of those movements, there are travellers and cargo vital to the local economy, and we need to understand the consequences of potentially removing those flights or limiting them in some way.
If you look at some of the big international hubs, Frankfurt would be one extreme, but there are many other international airports that have restricted hours, as we do—restricted movements within those hours.
We think that while we can look at the formula, at who is being served by those flights and what the economic opportunity and impact are, the greater Toronto area and the country will continue to need night flights to serve our economy. Whether those flights are coming into Toronto Pearson or another airport in the greater Toronto area, there is still going to be an impact. We're potentially just talking about moving an issue from one airport to another.
Sure. There are couple of questions there, I think.
One is how we consulted to develop our noise management action plan, and then a piece of the best practices study and the noise management action plan is to improve how we work with the surrounding community.
To produce the noise management action plan, as we mentioned, the foundational document that guided us was the Helios best practices study. As Hillary mentioned, it looked at 26 airports worldwide and came forward with a series of recommendations. From that came a series of 10 commitments, which are like vision statements, and under those vision statements are a series of actions we need to take. Some things are about doing what we already do, but doing it better, and some are to stop doing things that aren't making any impact. Of course, we will also be introducing nine new programs as part of this over the next five years.
Part of the best practices research did look at what other airports do—how they conduct their noise committees and their consultations. We certainly came up short. That was a very fair recommendation. Challenges with our committee were the representation and the process through which committee members are appointed.
One of the biggest pieces of feedback, as part of that research, was that our noise committee didn't have a meaningful action plan or work program. Now that we do have this noise management action plan, which is much more ambitious than the ones we've had in the past, we certainly do have a really solid work plan going forward.
We will be making recommendations to make sure that we have the proper elected officials and residents support and infrastructure in place to advise and guide us on how we move forward on these programs—revolutionary things like Canada's first voluntary insulation program, for example. There are big initiatives ahead.
There would probably be a number of factors on which we'd like to call ourselves the best airport in the world.
For example, in terms of passenger service, just this year we were recognized as the best large airport in North America for passenger service, as voted on by passengers. On behalf of the 300-plus employers and the 50,000 workers at Toronto Pearson, who all come together every day to get planes moving and serve passengers, I know that has been an important point of recognition.
We're making sure that we are environmentally sustainable, that we manage our stormwater, and that we introduce sustainability programs, as well as managing our operations safely.
Thank you all for being here.
Thank you particularly to TANG for their long-time engagement on this issue. Also, thanks for helping us as MPs understand this issue quite at depth and with a really fact-based approach that has helped me a lot.
There must be some amusement on the opposition side to see all the government folks here attempting to solve a problem. I've been on that side during this issue and I've been on this side during this issue, and I recognize that the reality is that we have a system of oversight that is completely out of the hands of what we're trying to do as elected officials. It was there when I was in opposition and I was attempting to get to the government, and the government is now on this side. It must be amusing for them.
I'm looking at TANG particularly. Is there a model of oversight you have envisioned that could make this more responsive so that consultation is real, elected officials have insight and impact in it, and citizens' groups actually have a say, without treading upon safety and issues that I know you care about?
There are a number of things, and I'll certainly defer to Renee on this one.
From my perspective, because these are two private companies, they are not subject to freedom of information, so we do not know in fact how decisions are made. If the government makes a decision, we know. If NavCan tells us they can't do this for safety reasons and they can't fly this way, but then two or three years later it's doable, if we had known in the beginning how that decision was made and we had insight into that....
However, they're private companies, so our level of oversight would involve some access to freedom of information that would allow our elected MPs, especially, to understand how NavCan and GTAA makes those decisions behind closed doors. That is the key.
When we find out after decisions are made, there may be consultation, but it's a fait accompli.
MP Oliphant mentioned that we were fact-based, and that is important to us. We know that aviation issues are emotional and very personal, and at some point we have to remove the emotion from that and somehow come to a solution.
I have heard in the previous hearing—and I thank MP Block—that we are of the opinion that beyond the emotion we have to have good data to find a solution. As a fact-based group, we have done that. We have our material showing you our noise terminal readings and how incredibly high they are at 20 kilometres away from the airport. The highest reading that was taken was at Spadina Road and St. Clair, for those of you who know the Toronto area. It was 81 decibels, far higher than many in the Mississauga and Oakville areas or areas close to the airport. In addition, we've done runway utilization.
I would like to point out that what we brought today is only part of a very large PowerPoint presentation that was presented on May 25 at MP Oliphant's invitation.
Just to follow up on the lack of response, that presentation was done on May 25 and we have yet to have a response from CENAC.
Madam Chair, I think it's important that I make a comment following Mr. Oliphant's comments. I am not sure if we're still televised, but I do not want anyone, in any way, to misinterpret what was said, that this side of the table is not taking this issue seriously.
I know Mr. Oliphant is not a regular member of this committee, but we did have a number of witnesses—Calgary Airport Authority and others—whom we spent plenty of time questioning.
We recognize that our panel this morning is very localized to the GTA, and there are six GTA area MPs at the table, so our intent here this morning was to allow plenty of time for GTA area MPs to question the panel, which is all localized. I want to put that on record.
I am not suggesting Mr. Oliphant said that. I just don't want an interpretation to be made that somehow we aren't taking this issue very seriously.
Mr. Oliphant, just for your information, I represent a riding in Calgary that is a 30-minute drive from the airport. Because of a new runway, Nav Canada has changed the flight path, and in fact, on our week break two weeks ago, I held a town hall meeting with Nav Canada, airport authority folks and residents. So it's a big issue in Calgary as well, in a riding that never believed the MP would ever have issues with aircraft noise.
I just want to put that on the record, Madam Chair.