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

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



     I call the meeting to order. This is the fifth meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are studying the mandate of the Minister of Transport.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), we are dealing with the main estimates 2016-17: vote 1 under Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; vote 1 under Canadian Transportation Agency; vote 1 under Marine Atlantic Inc.; votes 1, 5 and 10 under Office of Infrastructure of Canada; vote 1 under the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited; vote 1 under the Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.; votes 1, 5, 10, 15 and 20 under Transport; vote 1 under VIA Rail Canada Inc.; and vote 1 under Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, referred to the committee on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.
    The chair calls vote 1 under Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
    Minister Garneau, welcome. Congratulations on your new mandate. It's a very challenging one. I'm sure you have a wonderful committee that is more than prepared to work with you and your officials.
     I wish to acknowledge that we also have with us Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.
    Minister Garneau.
     Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Congratulations to you on your appointment as chair.
    Thank you to the committee for inviting me here today to say a few words and to answer your questions.
    I'm delighted to be accompanied by my deputy minister, Jean-François Tremblay. He will be the deputy minister until Sunday night, and then he will be transitioning, but he is my deputy minister today. Here as well are associate deputy minister Helena Borges, chief financial officer André Lapointe, and Laureen Kinney, who is the senior ADM for security and safety.


    It is my pleasure to accept the committee's invitation to address my mandate letter, to present our main estimates, and to update the committee on several matters relating to transportation in Canada.


    This is my first opportunity to appear before this committee since becoming Minister of Transport, and I do appreciate the committee's input on transportation issues.
    I would like to begin by discussing my mandate letter from the Prime Minister. Really, it is the top level document that guides me.
    In it he directed me to address several matters, three of which I would like to focus on today. First is the importance of improving the safety of our rail transportation system. Second is my initial response to the report of the Canada Transportation Act review. Third is the need to address marine safety, including oil tanker traffic off the north coast of British Columbia.
    Allow me to expand and I'll begin with rail safety.
    The first point I want to make is that safety will always be my priority in rail transportation. I'm certain that any minister of transport in any government would say exactly the same thing.


    As a Quebecer, the accident in Lac-Mégantic in 2013 was for me, one of the worst events in Canadian transportation. I was recently there to meet the mayor and help open a new downtown reconstruction office.
    In response to this tragedy, Transport Canada continues to strengthen regulation and enforcement of the safe operations of railways, specifically in transporting dangerous goods. This includes initiatives to improve transparency and share more information on the production, storage and transportation of dangerous goods in Canada.
    In doing this work, I am especially focused on how communities and the public can be more engaged, informed and part of the decision making. I expect to be able, at a later date, to tell you more about the specific steps the government plans to take.


    On the Canada Transportation Act review, I make no secret of the fact that I believe very strongly in the need for transportation to contribute to our economy.


    One important way that the government can demonstrate its support for this commitment is through our response to the Canada Transportation Act Review.
    Under the leadership of the Honourable David Emerson, the review looked 20 to 30 years down the road and suggested how government policy and initiatives across the transportation sector might most effectively help our transportation system to fuel Canada’s competitiveness in international trade.


     You are probably aware that I received the report of the CTA review in December and I tabled it in Parliament on February 25, well ahead of the April 12 deadline. I did that because even though we are still studying this document, I wanted to get it out there so that interested groups would have the opportunity to look at it as early as possible. I wanted Canadians to see that report, even though our own analysis is ongoing.
    We will follow this tabling with a substantial effort to hear from stakeholders across Canada about the review's findings. This will then allow us to propose initiatives to strengthen the transportation system and its contributions to our economy.
    In particular, I intend, with the support of my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, to address issues regarding the Canadian grain transportation system. These actions will aim to achieve real change so that transportation in Canada can both capitalize on opportunities and meet the evolving needs of all Canadians.



    These measures will also complement action we are taking to strengthen our use of research and analysis to build evidence-based transportation policy—policy that will help us to address growing pressures to broaden our trade relations, accelerate and expand open data initiatives, communicate our investments in infrastructure, take action on climate change, and finally, renew transportation partnerships with the United States and Mexico, with which we trade a great deal.


    Let me talk about collaboration and transparency. Our approach to the CTA review demonstrates our commitment to strengthening collaboration and transparency in the federal government. As you know, responsibility for Canada's transportation system is shared between different jurisdictions. That's why we need to listen to and work with provincial and territorial governments, the private sector, and indigenous groups and communities to strengthen that system.
    I had the pleasure of meeting with the 10 premiers and three ministers in the territorial governments responsible for transportation a little while back. They are now looking at the CTA review.


    This is why, for example, in January I travelled to British Columbia to meet with indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. It was an opportunity to hear their perspectives about how government investments in transportation can support the economy while working to reduce their impact on the environment.


    Achieving the right balance is important to me. While I see the transport portfolio very much as an economic portfolio, I realize that the transportation sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in this country and we must explore ways to reduce its impact on our planet.
     I would like to talk about marine safety and oil tankers. I intend to work with my colleagues the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the Minister of Global Affairs to improve marine safety in our coastal waters.
     In working with these ministers as well as with other members of cabinet, this will include taking measures to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia's north coast, something to which the government is committed. It's clearly spelled out in my mandate letter.
    Let me turn now to the main estimates.
    Madam Chair, I would be happy to elaborate on these commitments in the question and answer period, but before closing, allow me to note two budgetary matters concerning Transport Canada.


    The main estimates provides a listing of the resources required by the department for the upcoming fiscal year, at a point in time. It does not include funding that may be received within the fiscal year, most often related to items announced in the government’s budget.
    Funding for budget items received by the department , if any, would be accessed through the supplementary estimates process, which, as you know, normally occurs three times each year, subsequent to the main estimates.


    These could include funding for new programs or renewed funding of existing programs.


     Our main estimates for 2016-17 total approximately $1.3 billion, which is a decrease of 21.6% from spending plans approved in the 2015-16 main estimates. Sunset funding for programs such as the ports asset transfer program, funding for programs that are winding down, such as the gateways and border crossings fund, and funding for the Detroit River international crossing project, which has since been transferred to Infrastructure Canada, are no longer included, or included at a lesser amount in this year's main estimates, and help to explain the decrease.
    Finally, I'd like to say a word on grants and contributions changes. I should also note these estimates reflect changes that Transport Canada made to the vote structure for grants and contributions. I'd like to take a moment to explain this.


    As you may know, parliamentary control of grants and contributions in federal bodies has been categorized by the type of expenditures—such as operating costs, capital, or grants and contributions—rather than by the program purposes of these expenditures.
    In 2012, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates recommended that the Treasury Board Secretariat move from this current model to one based on program activity. Under this approach, the grants and contributions vote of organizations, such as Transport Canada, would be organized by programs, rather than by the type of expenditure. This is key. As such, expenditures would be categorized more by their aims than by how they fit into the structure of a federal body. For parliamentarians, this would provide more informed control over federal expenditures.
    Based on this recommendation, Transport Canada has moved to put this new model into practice as a pilot to see how it functions for both parliamentarians and the department. As a result, we hope this kind of categorization will give you a better understanding of Transport Canada’s work.


    Madam Chair, I believe the matters I have outlined today demonstrate the direction that Transport Canada is pursuing to keep transportation in this country safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible.


    I value input from this committee and I look forward to working with you to strengthen our transportation system and build a strong future for Canada.


    That concludes my opening remarks, and I would now welcome your questions.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Garneau.
    I appreciate that you're under 13 minutes out of your two-hour block of time. You have given the committee time for lots of interesting questions. Thank you very much.
    We'll start with Ms. Block, for six minutes.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    Madam Chair, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, Ms. Raitt. I will ask a couple of questions and then turn it over to her.
    I want to welcome you, Minister, and your departmental officials. We appreciate your joining us today. Since this is your first visit to our committee in your role as minister, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you publicly on your appointment to this important portfolio.
    Minister, one of the key files listed in your transition binder is the Ports Toronto's proposed Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport runway expansion. It's on page 171. The transition binder notes the airport is presently not certified under the “Aerodrome Standards and Recommended Practices”, TP 312, fifth edition, that were adopted in September 2015. Given the nature of the airport, adopting these standards is impossible.
    My questions are these: What exemptions are you willing to allow Ports Toronto to have so they can meet these new regulatory standards? What information was withheld under access to information at the bottom of the page? Will the main runway need to be expanded to satisfy the new aerodrome standards and recommended practices your own department recommends?


     Thank you very much, Ms. Block, for your question, and thank you for your congratulations as well.
    I will defer to my colleague, the ADM for safety and security, who will answer the question.
    There are obviously technicalities below that, but very simply, the standards that have been established under the versions of the TP312 document have gone in a series of updates over the decades. Each time those updates are established, obviously they affect the construction and operation of major components of an airport, including runways, etc.
    The typical practice, and the practice that has been put in place in the most recent revision, version five, has been to allow for grandfathering and continuing of previous exemptions and previous standards under version four until such time as significant changes are made.
    Over to me, or do you want to follow up?
    Mrs. Kelly Block: Go ahead.
    Hon. Lisa Raitt: Okay.
    Minister, how are you today?
    Hon. Marc Garneau: [Inaudible—Editor]
    Hon. Lisa Raitt: Minister, first of all, looking at the main estimates over the spend that's projected for this year, it looks like there's about a $400-million cut in Transport Canada's budget. Knowing how the department works, that's significant.
    I want to narrow it down to a very specific program, because I have great concerns. It's the ferry services contribution. You're cutting 50% of the ferry services contribution program: $18 million. There are three ferry services here: Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Saint John-Digby, and Wood Islands-Caribou. Which one of these ferry services is being shut down?
    As I mentioned in my opening speech, this is one of the programs that is sunsetting currently. There could be some changes in the budget—we'll have to see that—but at the moment that is a program that is sunsetting.
    Minister, what you're saying is that the ferry service between Souris, P.E.I., and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, between Saint John, New Brunswick, and Digby, Nova Scotia, and between Wood Islands, Nova Scotia, and Caribou, P.E.I., are actually in jeopardy of not having money to be served because of these main estimates.
    On that question, I will defer to my deputy minister.
    As the minister mentioned in his speech at the beginning, the practice in main estimates is not to include whatever may come out of the budget. We don't know what will be in the budget. Like all sunsetting programs, you just have to take it as it is at the moment. This is pending the decision in the budget, so let's wait and see what will be in the budget on this one.
    I have one final question, Mr. Chair.
    How many rail inspectors do you currently employ at Transport Canada?
    In terms of oversight at this moment, we have 1,472.
    But how many of those are actual inspectors?
    In terms of rail inspectors, there are 137 as of the end of the third quarter, so December 31. Of course, that evolves and moves by one or two here and there.
    I would assume we remember how many we had last year. I think we had about 105 rail inspectors at the end of April last year. Is that correct?
    I'd have to look at the exact numbers, but it was something like that.
    So we increased the number of rail inspectors this year by about 30%. Congratulations.
    That's it. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Badawey.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Mr. Minister, thank you for being at today's meeting. It's great to see you. Congratulations as well on your new portfolio.
    Mr. Minister, I had time over the past week to read the volumes produced for us with respect to the Canada Transportation Act review. Quite frankly, I was somewhat excited by some of the comments I saw within the review.
    I want to mention two particular areas that I found worked in tandem with a lot of the information we had brought out within my own jurisdiction, my own riding, but also throughout southwestern Ontario, that quite frankly can contribute to the overall economy throughout the entire country. That is found on page 6 in the first part of volume 1:
The fact that connectedness to the world economy provides life-giving oxygen to the Canadian economy has two critical implications. First, the role of transportation and logistics—the efficient movement of people and goods—has become increasingly critical to international competitiveness. In fact, transportation logistics and supply chain efficiency is now seen by various research organizations as more important to global competitiveness than duties and tariff rates.
I think this is something we've learned throughout the years, dealing with both transportation and the economy and seeing the connectedness between both.
    My question, Mr. Minister, is with respect to your comment in your opening remarks that you will follow the tabling with a substantial effort to hear from stakeholders across the country, across Canada, about the review's findings. Can you tell the committee exactly, a bit more specifically, what your intention is now to move forward with respect to the Canada Transportation Act review?


     Thank you, Mr. Badawey, for the question. I was also struck by that quotation you cited in the early part of the report.
    As I said in my opening speech, the transport ministry is viewed by me as an economic portfolio. I believe, and I've said this often, that the economy of our country depends on three big things: one, the products and services we have to offer to the world; two, the treaties we have with other countries that enable us to exchange these products and services; and three, how well set-up our trade infrastructure and trade corridors are in efficiently getting our products and services to other countries. I definitely regard the trade-related infrastructure part of transportation as a critical component.
    For example, we know our railway system ships about 280-billion dollars' worth of goods annually, at least in 2014. That's a very large amount. Can we make it more efficient? The port of Vancouver handles 140 million tonnes of goods. Can we make it more efficient? Can we make other ports more efficient? How efficient is our intermodal transport? How many bottlenecks do we have in the country that are unnecessarily slowing down the efficient movement of trade-related goods that we want to sell to other countries, especially in many cases across the border into the United States where we do a great deal of trade?
    For me this is an extremely important element of my mandate. It is the economic side of the transport ministry. I mentioned in my opening remarks that we are going to consult during the spring and summer with key stakeholders to see how they react to the recommendations. There are some 60 recommendations in the Emerson report.
    Transport is not just a federal jurisdiction. We work with provinces and territories. I am interested in hearing what they have to say, because the more we are in sync on transport issues in this country, the better it is for all of us.
    I've already begun some consultations by meeting with the Secretary of Transportation in the United States as well as the Secretary for Homeland Security, because both security and transport are essential aspects of trade between Canada and the United States, and we do a great deal of trade with the U.S. by road, ship, and rail.
    There will be a consultation process. In the fall what we anticipate to do is to decide the recommendations we will go forward with, those we will not go forward with, and those we may partially go forward with. Before we get to that point, we want to have this consultation process throughout the spring and summer.
    Thank you, Minister.
    Do you also intend to collaborate with others, such as the Minister of Infrastructure, to look at investing in strategic locations, as you mentioned earlier, intermodal, multimodal locations, throughout the country? Do you see that as being part of your collaboration?
    Absolutely. In fact, we speak on a regular basis. In the election, our government talked about social infrastructure, green infrastructure, and public transit infrastructure, but there's also trade-related infrastructure. The Minister of Infrastructure certainly recognizes the important dimension of transportation infrastructure.


    Thank you, Minister.
    Ms. Duncan.
    Thank you for being here, Mr. Minister. I appreciate your being here for two hours, as your colleague was earlier this week, and we had a great discussion with him.
    I have been outspoken on rail safety. I'm delighted that the committee has agreed to take a look at it.
     I have to say that I was pretty stunned to read the paper today to find out that Treasury Board is sending in a financial officer because of the mishandling or inadequate handling of financing for rail safety. I'm concerned that when I look in the main estimates the dollars for rail safety are being cut back again. This is a much bigger issue than the yo-yoing of funding for rail safety.
     I met today with the fire chiefs. They are deeply concerned about the downloading to them of the costs and the need to train emergency and immediate responders. The mayor in my city is having to spend two of the three allotments to him for infrastructure on dealing with the impact of rail traffic in our city.
    It's time that we had the federal government step up to the plate and start regulating and addressing the rail industry.
    To that effect, I wonder if you could speak to whether or not you think it's time to finally move away from the self-regulation of this sector to the use of audits. When I came in as the chief of enforcement, we cleaned house. The field inspectors were delighted that they were finally treated as inspectors: trained, designated full-time inspectors, full-time investigators.
    Will you consider doing a full enforcement compliance surveillance audit of this sector, and come forward with a clear strategy on ensuring that we have proper surveillance and enforcement of this sector, and well-funded, well-trained full-time inspectors and investigators?
    I thank you for your question, and I know that you are deeply committed to rail safety, as am I. I can assure you that it will remain my top priority.
    Indeed, rail safety is very clearly spelled out in my mandate letter. After what happened in Lac-Mégantic I think it became clear to many people in this country that yes, rail carries dangerous goods and some of them go through people's backyards, and suddenly people became very concerned about the safety of the rail systems.
    There is no question that the previous government put in place some measures, largely in response to Lac-Mégantic, such as how to immobilize a train in a safe manner, although I see we still have some work to do. There's the upgrading of tanker cars that carry dangerous materials. There are different measures that are more constraining with respect to liability and compensation to put more responsibility onto the railroads. Also there are changes in the rules. Yes, an important component of that is to ensure that we are adequately inspecting and ensuring that our rail companies are travelling this country safely and on safe rail systems.
    Has enough been done? No. There is still more work to do. In the four short months that I've been in this portfolio, I have seen, for example, that in 2015 there were 737 train derailments. Most people do not hear about them. Many of those train derailments don't necessarily involve the train falling over on its side. Sometimes it just comes off the track and sometimes it's fairly minor and sometimes no dangerous goods are involved.
    I think we can do better and you have brought up questions in question period about belt packs remotely controlling trains, the issue of fatigue, which we have brought up as well, and of course the recent example of a railcar in Regina travelling four kilometres through the town.
    We're looking at all these things. In short, the answer to you is that we can do better. I believe we need to do better. It is a priority for me, and we are looking at different ways of doing it.
    Thank you for your suggestion.


    Thank you, Mr. Minister. I'm not hearing an indication of a major shift, and you can be sure I'll pursue it. I know what rules and regulations are. I know what self-audit is, and it has to end in this sector.
    I only have a few minutes left, I think. This is a huge portfolio. I wish I had more time but I do feel obligated to raise some concerns of the agriculture community.
    I have met with organization after organization that are deeply concerned about the recommendations in the Emerson report. They would like a commitment from you that you are going to extend the deadlines under Bill C-30 which sunset in August 2016.
    They are very deeply concerned about calls to end the MRE without additional protections in there for our grain producers. They also are very concerned about the proposed changes to interswitching. I know that's between you and the agriculture minister.
    I would appreciate clarification on what kinds of measures are going to be taken to make sure that our agriculture producers can participate in the trade opportunities.
     Getting back to the scenario, as a result of putting out the review...that's why I want to get the review out really quickly, so that people could comment. The comments that have been made to you have in fact been made to me and to the Minister of Agriculture.
    We have not made a decision on whether or not to extend Bill C-30. It is certainly a bill that addresses some of the points that you're talking about, the MRE, the interswitching, those kinds of issues. We are studying this at the moment.
    Remember that we've only had this report for a short time and we want to take the best possible approach to making sure that grain moves efficiently—it's an important resource—but in the larger picture, that we're also moving potash efficiently, that we're moving pulses, that we're moving coal, that we're moving all products including containers—
    Mr. Minister, sorry to interrupt.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Sikand.
    Thank you for being here, Minister.
    I'm looking at an article—I'm not sure you saw this—in the Globe and Mail. The headline is, “Treasury Board to oversee Transport Canada's budget decisions”.
    Accordingly, the government has placed Transport Canada under special oversight for repeatedly missing internal financial targets. I know there were some concerns with staffing. I can appreciate that you've inherited quite a precarious situation here. I just wanted to know how you're going to address it.
    Thank you for your question. Yes, it's pretty well explained in the Globe and Mail article.
    There's a difficult financial situation that is in my ballpark now that I'm the minister. I can tell you that I met with the President of the Treasury Board quite some time ago to discuss this, and I told him he had my 100% support, that we needed to address the issues that were raised.
    It is important that our ministries are seen to be managing their finances as well as can be expected from a ministry of the government. I intend to work very co-operatively with Treasury Board in the coming year. My team is totally on board with that. We are addressing this issue and we want to make sure that at some point the person overseeing us from Treasury Board says it's fine, that everything is okay, and goes back to Treasury Board.
    We have to demonstrate that we have our house in order. This is something that came largely from last year, but it's now something that I've inherited and I'm going to take care of it.
    Thank you for that.
    I will just shift topics here to an issue more local to me. You've obviously heard of the Missing Link project.
    The Canadian Urban Transit Association has stated that there is actually a shortfall of $18 billion for transit projects planned through 2020. I was just wondering what eligibility criteria would you suggest for public transit project funding for something like the Missing Link.
    Public transit funding comes under our colleague, Minister Sohi's responsibility. Mine is more in the area of infrastructure related to transporting goods across the country. I hope you had the chance to ask him that question a couple of days ago, or whenever he appeared. That is clearly within his mandate, the public transit side. As you will not be surprised to know, there are quite a few interesting public transit projects that are looking for government money. We'll see how things develop, notably coming up in the next budget.


    I did ask him, but I thought I'd ask you too.
    You have two and a half minutes if you like, or would you like to share with your colleagues?
    Mr. Gagan Sikand: Thank you, I'm good.
    Thank you, Madam Chair, and Minister and your crew.
    In the old days, the Department of Transport regulated the use of the radio spectrum and the performance of transmitting facilities. Is that still the case in your ministry?
    It's Industry Canada.
    Okay, you just dodged a big one. That's fine. We'll move on.
    I'm looking at the Transportation Safety Board active rail recommendations. There are a dozen of them. They are going back to 1991. The best mark that you're getting so far is satisfactory intent, but that's like, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There are some significant things here that do relate to safety, that do relate to the monitoring of safety management systems, etc.
    Do you see in your mandate letter an indication that addressing these dozen or so issues will be a priority for your ministry?
     They are a priority in the sense that when the Transportation Safety Board comes to us after investigating any form of accident, they make recommendations. Sometimes those recommendations are to Transport Canada.
    We then have to make a decision, looking at the big picture, as to whether we are going to implement their recommendation immediately and as written, or whether we need some time to study it—some of these issues are extremely complex—or whether we will not. That is something we have to decide on and ultimately that we remain accountable to.
    The status of the recommendations is public, and if we decide, then it is up to us to explain why we may not have implemented. The reasons are usually very complex; they're not straightforward.
    Are these published?
    That information is available, yes.
    We can talk about some specific examples. I don't want to do that in this forum, but it is more complicated than meets the eye sometimes.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Fraser, you have six minutes.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    Through you, I'd also like to thank the honourable minister for taking a full two hours to be with us today. Minister, I think the level of access we have and the opportunity to question you is fantastic.
    I'm from Nova Scotia, where everybody wants to know about roads. I noticed that in your mandate letter there is a requirement to promote different forms of transportation, including our road network, to ensure the efficient movement of goods. Can you describe to me either your work with the province that has taken place to date or your plan to work with the provinces to identify the key priorities they have to enhance the road networks across Canada?
    In our initial meeting with all 10 transport ministers, including Minister Geoff MacLellan from Nova Scotia, they had the opportunity to tell us about some of the things that are important.
    Where it fits ideally with us is with respect to transportation infrastructure; that's the area in which we're there to help. There are jurisdictions that are provincial, and some that are federal, and in some cases they overlap, but our ultimate aim, wherever it meshes with the provinces, is to help to move people and goods as efficiently as possible. That touches on roads, rails, ports, and airports. That's really where the mandate of Transport Canada lies.
    There may be specific issues that are a priority for the province, and they let us know, and we certainly take those into consideration.


    Thanks very much.
    I'd like to shift gears briefly towards marine safety.
    The review of the Canada Transportation Act suggested that we need to, I think it was “strengthen and reform”, or language similar to that, the Canadian Coast Guard.
    I've seen at least one shocking infrastructure project involving the Coast Guard, in Port Bickerton, Nova Scotia, where the project actually impeded the safety and the ability of the Coast Guard to do its work by clogging up the local wharf to the point that people can't even fuel up in the water. They actually have to take the boat aground to fuel up.
    What measures are you going to take to enhance the safety and security of Canadians through promoting our Coast Guard's infrastructure?
    Technically speaking, the Coast Guard comes under the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Hunter Tootoo. It is part of his mandate.
    On the broader question of marine safety, there is an involvement from Transport Canada's point of view. Certainly if there is a problem associated with navigation, it is our responsibility. If rules are being broken by ships in the way they comport themselves at sea or in harbour, that is a Transport Canada matter.
    Insofar as the state of the Coast Guard is concerned, I noted the remarks made by the CTA review. I've certainly noted them, but it is something that Minister Tootoo is responsible for at this point, so I would prefer to defer to him on your question.
     Certainly, Minister. Thank you.
    Changing gears again, I'd like to focus on efficiency in our rail infrastructure. I note that the review discussed the grain transportation system. Earlier, in passing, I think you mentioned the phase-out of the DOT-111 tanker cars as well.
    In part of your review of railway efficiency during your mandate, do you intend to consider the need for the increased manufacture of different kinds of railcars? Could you describe to me the process of the manufacture of railcars themselves?
    I'm not an expert on the manufacturing process. Certain companies make tanker cars, and they have to conform to certain safety standards. We have talked a lot about the DOT-111s, which were the tanker cars involved in Lac-Mégantic. As a follow-up after that, the previous government worked with the United States. This is a critical part of the equation here, because many of our tanker cars go across the border and we have to harmonize our safety regulations. “DOT” means Department of Transport. It's an American safety regulation.
    There's going to be a phase-out of the DOT-111s to what we call the TC-117. There's another kind of car, the 1232, but that's also going to be phased out. It's going to happen, depending on the kind of material that is carried, between now and 2025. You can't do it overnight; there are literally tens of thousands of these cars, but there will be a phase-out program so that the newer cars, which are much more solid in terms of being able to withstand a derailment, have a much lower risk of puncturing and exploding.
    Madam Chair, do I have any time left?
    You have five seconds.
    I'll take that opportunity to say thank you very much
    Thank you.
    Mr. Berthold.


    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you very much, Minister Garneau, for appearing here today. I am pleased to see you.
    First of all, I want to point out something that was pretty remarkable in the follow-up to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. You offered your full co-operation, and I sense that you have a genuine desire to resolve this matter, but the public has certain expectations that must be met.
    As you know, the people of Lac-Mégantic have very high expectations. Those expectations were created by the Prime Minister himself during the election campaign. In fact, he promised to build a bypass around Lac-Mégantic.
    I think another serious problem has to do with credibility. Many people have come out and declared themselves to be experts on the matter. Some political parties have been very harsh and critical of Transport Canada over the past year. Today, the public is still worried. The people are still afraid of trains. We are not getting any answers. A little earlier, you mentioned that you are concerned about rail safety, but unfortunately, no one can give any timeframes.
    How can you reassure the public regarding the current safety of rail transportation in Lac-Mégantic? Is there anything you can do to reassure people about rail safety? What can we do to help experts win back some of the credibility they have lost?
    My second question will be brief. Has any funding been set aside in the upcoming budget to complete the bypass project?


    You asked a number of questions there. I appreciate your commitment, since you represent the people of Lac-Mégantic. You and I have already had discussions on this issue.
    The rail line that passes through Lac-Mégantic is inspected regularly. We know that this is very important, as it is throughout Canada. I know it takes a little time for people to be reassured after suffering a tragedy like the one that occurred in July 2013. It was literally a traumatic event.
    New regulatory measures have been introduced since that time. As I mentioned, measures are being taken to make trains safer when they are left overnight, like in Nantes, for instance, which is 11 km from Lac-Mégantic.
    We are also paying closer attention to situations involving hazardous materials. The kind of tanker cars that are used is going to change.
    Minister Garneau, do you think informing the public directly on-site would be possible? As it stands, messages are coming in from all over the place. I think people need to hear your message directly from the people who are familiar with these issues.
    Regarding your invitation to go in person, as I said when I was there in January to take part in the opening of the downtown reconstruction office, I plan on returning in the spring. I am certainly available to take part in an event or a round table where I could answer people's questions and do what you are suggesting, that is, talk about the measures that have been taken and let people know that we are being extremely vigilant.
    As for the issue of a rail bypass for Lac-Mégantic, as you know, a study is under way and it will take some time for it to be completed. We want to see the results of that study before making any definitive statements, because there will be significant implications in terms of the costs and so many other things. We want to wait and see what happens with that. However, I am available to meet with people, which is why I went in January to meet with the mayor and everyone who took part in the event. That was the second time I have been there.
    If I understand correctly, then, if there are financial needs over the next year, your department will be there.
    In terms of financial needs, can you please clarify exactly what you are asking?
    I think what the people want most is to be reassured. A progress report is expected in May regarding the study for the bypass. If resources are needed to move forward on this file quickly, it is our understanding that they will be available for the people of Lac-Mégantic.
    We need to look at the report before making any decisions. That is appropriate, since due diligence is required.
    Thank you.
    I will let Ms. Watts take it from here.


     You have less than a minute.
     Okay, in that minute, I'll go to the second round.
    The emergency response task force was set up in July 2014, and some recommendations have been undertaken. Is it your intent to continue to implement these recommendations?
    As you point out, there were 33 initially. Twelve have been looked at, and there may be as many as 40 before the work of the task force is over. We will be continuing even after the last meeting of the task force this month.
    We do intend to continue looking at them, because we believe they performed an extremely important and valuable service by providing us with these recommendations.


    Right, and that's because it's around the transportation of dangerous goods. Will you continue to report every quarter?
    A short answer, Minister Garneau.
     We hadn't thought about specifically reporting every quarter, but I can assure you we're continuing to work on the recommendations. It takes a certain amount of time to look at all of them, but we'll end up looking at all 40 of them.
    Thank you very much, Minister Garneau.
    Mr. Hardie, for six minutes.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    We've gone through an era of deregulation, and another euphemism is light touch regulation. It would appear that's damaged public confidence in a lot of bodies in their oversight of things that are important, or dangerous, or both.
    I have to go back to the question of my colleague, Ms. Duncan, a little earlier when she was asking whether or not Transport Canada will get into the business of direct involvement in inspecting railways rather than auditing SMS reports.
    We are inspecting them. That's part of our responsibility—
    Out on the lines looking at the trains?
    I've even had the chance to go out and do some. It was a demonstration for me in the Taschereau yard, but yes we are doing it.
    I think that probably needs a little profile because this lack of public confidence not only harms the government, it also harms the railways themselves, because the public perceives they're not necessarily doing it as they should. They should have the evidence that this is going on and also what comes of it.
    There's another group that is also inspecting the manufacture of railcars, and all of the shipping conveyances, and they do apparently actively inspect for compliance. Do they issue reports as to what they find, and what's your level of satisfaction with compliance with those regulations?
     Let me pass it to my deputy minister, Mr. Tremblay.
    I will try to answer your first question, and my colleague will jump in on the dangerous goods aspect.
    On the first one, let's be clear about that. We do inspect the railways. We do inspections. That's why we have inspectors. We do audits of their practice to see if they have integrated safety practice. We do investigate when an accident happens, as does the TSB, Transport Safety Board, and we do take enforcement measures that can go with, of course, AMPs, administrative monetary penalties for example, or we can go also, of course, with criminal charges. That is something that we do, actually.
    If I may just touch on the last part of your question, I believe you were referring to the transportation of dangerous goods and the inspections that go on.
    We have a very robust program, as well, on inspecting the means of containment, whether they're designed, built, and then operated correctly. While dangerous goods are under the form of transportation appropriate, whether it be marine, rail—in surface, it tends to be the highway areas; it's done by the provinces—but yes, there's a very good program.
    You do raise a good point. If there is this perception that the companies check themselves, then perhaps we need to get the word out a little bit more that Transport Canada has a very important inspection responsibility. In fact, if things are not acceptable, we take measures.
    With respect to the Emerson report, I've had a chance to at least go through the recommendations. I've flagged a couple of things, and I know that, of course, the examination of that is to come.
    Again looking at recent history, we had a regime that really felt that the government in power could do just about anything it wanted to get things done and yet didn't get things like pipelines built and didn't get a lot of other things built because the public opposition ran up against it. I recognized some things in the Emerson report about acquiring corridors or promoting 24-hour operation of certain facilities, and I didn't see anything in there that recommended there be a robust public and community consultation so that you don't run into the same kinds of issues that our predecessors did on some of the major projects they tried to advance. That's more of a comment, but there should be an intent, I think, to include that, even if the Emerson report didn't.


    Well, thank you for that comment, and I would agree with you. Certainly people sometimes express themselves quite strongly with respect to issues dealing with airports, dealing with ports, or dealing with railways that pass near their neighbourhood. People are very vocal so that, when something new is being envisaged, I agree with you that there should be a consultation process because sometimes there's going to be an impact on the population in the neighbourhood. I think it's common sense for that to occur and it's certainly something that those who run our infrastructure should take into account.
    There have been similar comments—
    Briefly, very briefly.
    Very briefly? Actually, no. I'll end here. Thank you.
    Thank you very much.
    Ms. Watts.
    Thank you very much.
    Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.
    I want to talk about rail safety. You talked about inspections and dangerous goods. I'm wondering if there is going to be a study undertaken, if that is part of the mandate, in terms of looking at rail lines along the foreshore. With the changing weather patterns and heavy rains, especially in my part of the world in British Columbia and South Surrey—White Rock, there has been significant erosion on the foreshore. As I said, we've talked about the dangerous goods and how that's increased, but also, with blocking access, emergency vehicles can't get to a community. I'm wondering if part of your mandate would include looking at that criteria and how improvements can be made, because these are significant, and I'm sure mine is not the only riding that's dealing with these issues. They're certainly considerable and in a high residential area. I mean, 28 people have been killed or injured along that line. The erosion, dangerous goods, and increase in the length of trains have all been quite significant.
    Is there a plan to have a look at it? I'm sure, as I said, that it's replicated in other places around the country.
     I appreciate your input, and I've certainly taken note of it. There's no question that our railroads go through some very remote parts of the country and in some cases go very close to the shoreline. We've all seen it ourselves.
    You bring up a very valid point, which is discussed quite a bit in the Emerson report, and that is about the effects of climate change on our infrastructure. The fact that there is a chapter on this I think points to the fact that there is no question that we have to make our rail systems and other transportation systems more resilient in the face of climate change, in this case probably because of flooding and washing away of railbeds and things such as that.
    It is something we'll look at in the context of the report, because it's a wake-up call that the resiliency of our transportation system is under threat.
    Also, as you point out, in some cases some of these places are quite difficult to access, and if something does happen, and we've all seen occasionally when derailments have occurred and the cars have fallen into lakes or rivers, it's not an easy thing to get to them.
    That infrastructure has been there for a long time. Finding an alternative can be very challenging, but it is something we will look at in a broad way as part of the Emerson report.


    I would also say that this particular line not only goes around the foreshore but also through the flood plain along the edge of a bay. If we're looking at water rising two metres and all of those conditions, I can only anticipate what is going to happen down the road.
    If that's a recommendation that were to be extrapolated from the report and highlighted, I think many communities across Canada would appreciate it.
    You have three quarters of a minute left.
    Go ahead, Monsieur Berthold.


    Mr. Garneau, I would like to come back to the issue of Lac-Mégantic, because earlier, we talked about the issue of financial needs only very briefly. As I'm sure you've read in the newspapers, people want this project to move forward quickly.
    If, in May, the preliminary results of the study prove to be more positive and immediate action is needed in order to make a decision, will the upcoming budget include funding for these people, or will they have to wait until next year for this to move forward?


    Mr. Berthold, your time is up.
    Mr. Garneau, if you could, give us a short answer to a longer question than anticipated.
    Thank you.


    The short answer is that we will have to read the preliminary report in May before making any decisions.


    Mr. Boulerice, you have five minutes, no, three minutes.


    Minister Garneau, thank you for being here this afternoon. I'll try to be brief, since three minutes go quickly.
    As the Minister of Transport, you are responsible for enforcing the Air Canada Public Participation Act. When Air Canada was privatized in 1988, the agreement stipulated that all maintenance for Air Canada's entire fleet would done in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal.
    In 2012, Aveos shut down its operations and Air Canada relocated the maintenance of its aircraft, often to countries in the south. Some 2,600 Aveos workers lost their jobs. That means 2,600 families were affected by this. People fought it in court and won their case in Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal. In 2012, the leader of the Liberal Party protested with the Aveos workers on Parliament Hill and called on the Conservatives to enforce the law.
    Our current fear is that the new Liberal government is going to amend the legislation to remove Air Canada's obligation to keep those jobs and maintenance activities in the three cities mentioned. Those fears were fuelled yesterday when your government added a bill to the order paper to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
    For those 2,600 families, can you guarantee us here today that your government will maintain Air Canada's obligation to keep the maintenance work and operations in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal, in order to protect those 2,600 jobs and keep those activities in Canada?
    Mr. Boulerice, as you know, the situation has changed since 2012. We are now in a situation where Air Canada plans on purchasing 45 C Series aircraft, and possibly even 75. The manufacturing of those planes will create jobs. Air Canada will help establish a centre of excellence, because that aircraft has brand new technology that doesn't exist anywhere else. Furthermore, the company committed to maintaining the C Series planes that it plans to buy for at least the next 20 years. This is going to create jobs in Quebec. These were not the circumstances in 2012, when Aveos shut down.
    Air Canada is also currently in talks with the Government of Manitoba, but I am not involved in those discussions. As for Ontario, Bombardier already has a very strong presence there.
    If I understand correctly, Minister Garneau, you are saying that your government is going to make those job losses legal, although yesterday they were still illegal.


    The Government of Quebec decided to drop its lawsuit against Air Canada in light of the new circumstances. I have been saying since February 17 that this opens the door to amending the Air Canada Public Participation Act in order to clarify the section on maintenance.


     Thank you, Minister Garneau.
    Ms. Block, for six minutes.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    Minister, nearly every response that you have given concerning the Toronto Island expansion and Bombardier's C Series has been to praise Air Canada's letter of intent to purchase the plane. Air Canada announced that it had signed a letter of intent to purchase the C Series aircraft on February 17, 2016. We're nearly three months after your tweet that unilaterally ended Toronto City Council's process to determine the future of the Billy Bishop airport. Therefore, Air Canada's signing a letter of intent to purchase the C Series is not justification for your decision. It was already made.
    Furthermore, Air Canada signed a letter of intent with a two-year negotiation window. No money has changed hands, and none will for several years. Neither Bombardier nor Air Canada has announced the price they have agreed on for the C Series aircraft, but it is believed to be under $30 million per unit, which is far below the break-even point for Bombardier. Assuming Air Canada's letter of intent leads to orders at the end of the two-year negotiating window, planes are scheduled to be delivered beginning in early 2020, after deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are completed and assuming no delays take place during production.
    I should also note that the Quebec government has already acquired a 49% share of the C Series program for $1 billion.
     If it is the intention, as you signalled today, of this Liberal government to purchase the remaining portion of this program, are you concerned with the implications of having effectively nationalized Bombardier and the C Series? Do you actually believe that you should be promoting a private business decision made by Air Canada as the justification for why you unilaterally shut down the City of Toronto's process to determine whether or not to allow the expansion of the city airport?
    Well, I think there's a little misunderstanding or confusion in what I understood from your question.
    The reason we decided not to reopen the tripartite agreement, as I think I've said many times in the past month, is that we feel the current tripartite agreement achieves the proper balance between the commercial interests of the area and the community interests. Those community interests are important, and primarily they have to do with the waterfront and the people who live there, because there are many people who live there.
    Billy Bishop is a thriving airport. It's doing very well. We think the right balance has been achieved. That's the reason we said and why I announced that we would not reopen the tripartite agreement.
     With respect to your question about a state-owned Bombardier, let's not get ahead of the gun. Let's just see what is happening at the moment. I've said to people, and Minister Bains has made it very clear, that he is looking at the requests that came from Bombardier. I would ask you to refer your questions to him with respect to that. A decision has not been made. We're looking at it very diligently, and when we have something to say, we will say it.
     I want to switch topics.
    I would like to talk about energy east. A pipeline like energy east would transport the equivalent of nearly 1,600 railcars of crude oil per day, travelling from Saskatchewan and Alberta to eastern Canada. As the Minister of Transport, do you have a role in cabinet of arguing that removing 1,600 railcars of oil per day is good for Canada's transportation network as a whole?


    I have a role in cabinet like that of every other cabinet minister sitting around the table when we discuss what we're going to go ahead with in terms of decisions that the government makes. I have a chance to give my input, as does everybody else. I'm not here to share confidential cabinet discussions.
    I think my colleagues, however, are well aware of the energy east issue. I can assure you of that. They're also very much aware of the fact that dangerous goods, including crude oil, are transported on our rail system across the country. I try to keep them well informed on that. It is something that the private sector that wants to move oil sometimes makes the decision to do. It's more expensive than a pipeline, but in some cases they decide that that's the way they're going to do it.
    A lot of this crosses the border as well. The clientele is not just in Canada, it's in the United States.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Iacono.


    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you for being here with your team this afternoon, Minister Garneau.


    The 2016-17 main estimates propose an allocation to VIA Rail to meet the corporation's estimated budget expenditures, which include $239.5 million to cover an operating deficit. The CTA review recommends that the federal government consider the elimination of federal subsidies for the Toronto to Vancouver service and support the ongoing feasibility study of a project to build dedicated track between Montreal and Toronto.


    What is VIA Rail’s current level of cost-recovery from its operations across Canada?
    Is VIA Rail’s revenue from passenger fares expected to cover a greater proportion of its costs in the future?
    I have been asked that question several times and I am certainly aware of what appears in the report and of Mr. Emerson's recommendations. As I'm sure you know, every year the federal government gives Via Rail about $370 million to maintain its profitability. Some lines are more profitable than others. Passengers are more concentrated in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor, which is why Via Rail just made us a proposal.
    Other lines elsewhere in the country cost the federal government more per passenger, and we need to hand over some money to Via Rail. If you look at the number of passengers between Toronto and Vancouver, for example, and the cost of that service, the ticket price definitely does not cover the cost of the transportation itself. This is the current policy and the one that has been in place for many years. Mr. Emerson made some recommendations in that regard. We are going to have a closer look at all of his recommendations, and all the others. I cannot say right now what our decision will be. We recognize the importance of passenger rail service. We also recognize that there are some places where it is used a lot more, and other places where it is used less, and this costs the Canadian government and taxpayers a lot of money.
    We have to make a decision with all that information and all those considerations in mind, and we will examine the Emerson report on this matter.
    Does the federal government plan to eliminate the subsidies for the Toronto to Vancouver service?
    I don't have an answer for you right now, except to say that there are other people in this room who take the train between Ottawa and Montreal, and it costs the federal government $44 every time a passenger gets on that train. It costs the government money. It is a question of philosophy. Is this something we provide because it's an important service, or should it be profitable? Like any government, that is the kind of thing we have to consider.



     What plans, if any, does the federal government have to support VIA Rail's proposal to build a dedicated track for higher frequency and higher speed between Montreal and Toronto? Is that a possibility?
    We're looking at it. VIA Rail has come forward with a proposal. High frequency means more trains per day. That's where the frequency part of it comes in. They would also go faster, because they would have their own dedicated rail line and they wouldn't have to stop to let a freight train go by because they were on somebody else's line. They say their projections show that eventually it could go from 2.5 million to seven million passengers. That sounds pretty good. That means taking people who at the moment drive or in some cases fly. We have to look at that very seriously. Is that something based on a solid assessment that is credible?
    The second thing is they believe they can line up two-thirds of the money—it's a $3-billion proposal—from the private sector. Is the private sector on board? We need to look at that as well, because they're looking for one-third from the federal government. We want to look at whether the private sector is solidly on board. It's important for us when we're talking about the taxpayers' money to do our due diligence. It's an attractive proposal on the face of it, but we need to do our due diligence to make sure there's a solid business case as well.
    Certainly, in terms of cutting down on pollution, I love the train myself, and I'll make no secret of that fact. I love going by train, but that's a personal thing. We're talking about the Canadian taxpayers' money.
    Thank you very much.
    Ms. Duncan, you have six minutes.
    There are so many issues to raise. Emerson dealt with a lot of issues, but one of the topics, Mr. Minister, the report dealt with was northern infrastructure. I had the pleasure of working in Yukon—
    You mean the northern type of infrastructure? Okay, I get it.
    That's right. A very important part of the report covers everything from northern isolated airports to marine transport in the Arctic, and so on.
    In reviewing the Emerson report overall, I see two conflicting recommendations, and I'm curious to know in what direction you plan to go with your government.
    On one hand is a recommendation for an emphasis on two or three long-term nation-building projects, but on the other hand, the Emerson report is saying what we need to do is to maintain and improve northern transport for the benefit of local communities and the well-being of the north, including federal procurement of northern carriers and so forth.
    I'm curious to know in which direction you are going. Are we going to repeat this idea that southerners propose big projects for the north and, gosh, it'll be really good if things trickle down, or this time around, are we actually going to have the northerners decide on the transportation needs of their communities and also have opportunities to participate in the economy?
    Well, in typical Canadian fashion, we'll probably do both.
    It did strike me when I read this report how much focus there was on the north. Considering the mandate that was given by the previous government, I thought the committee really did put a lot of focus on the north. There's no question it is an important area that has probably suffered from not being addressed very much in the past. Of course, there are special challenges associated with it, but given the fact that the planet is changing, including Canada, I think it behooves us to look at the north very seriously. Of course, the consultation process with the people who live up there is critical. I think Mr. Emerson and his team, in fairness, did consult with them, but we now have to decide which particular thrusts we want to focus on to help northerners, again, in the interests of making our transportation infrastructure as efficient as possible, both for people and for goods.
    I think it's going to change a great deal. If you have the ship option many more months of the year, that changes a lot of things. If you have not just gravel runways but other kinds of runways, that can also change the face of things if there's a growing pressure for more people to want to go up there either for work or to live there. These are things we have to look at, because we are talking about a 20-year to 30-year horizon. Frankly, I think it's important for us, and I thank Mr. Emerson for putting quite a bit of emphasis on the north.


     I have a few more seconds, and I want to talk to you about bitumen loading terminals. A number of 24-hour bitumen loading terminals are being proposed for Alberta. One is already in operation. For some remarkable reason, the rail industry is the only one that's been almost totally exempted from federal environmental assessment.
    There was an environmental assessment called for the latest one, in Hardisty, and the company, as I understand it, yanked their proposal because there was going to be an assessment. What engagement do you have in this? I presume you would be the lead agency if an environmental assessment were to be called.
    We would not be the lead.
    Are these the transloading places? Yes, some of them are not very active at the moment because of the price of oil.
     It would be the Minister of Environment who would be responsible for the environmental assessment.
    We would support them with expertise.
    We would be supportive. I mean, we have a support role. That's what I'm saying.
    How about my broader question? Do you believe that the rail industry, because of the nature of their cargo now, should be subject to an environmental impact assessment?
    In the sense that all modes of transportation should be looked at closely because of the environmental footprint that we have and the contribution to greenhouse gases in general, yes, no question.
    That's very encouraging. I look forward to pursuing that with you.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Sikand.
    I have the privilege of representing the riding that I grew up in. When I was growing up, a student was killed at a railway crossing.
     I see that the Transportation Safety Board has identified rail crossings as among the rail issues that pose the greatest risk to Canadians.
    Sir, my question for you is, what plans, if any, do you have to address this and to reduce accidents at railway crossings?
    Yes, railway crossings have accounted for almost half of our fatalities, so railway crossings are important. We have put out new railway crossing regulations with respect to that and they address specifically the issue of safety.
    However, if a location where there is a railway crossing.... Federally, there are about 14,000 of them, and there are 9,000 private ones. There's a huge number of them. That doesn't include every provincial one and other ones. There is a huge number of railway crossings, and each of them of course has to be safe, and there are regulations with respect to how the safety measures need to be put in place.
    If a municipality is concerned about a railway crossing, those who own the road and those who own the railway are each responsible for working together to ensure the railway crossing is safe. If they have a disagreement about it, they can call Transport Canada, and we'll come and look at it. We'll look at whether it complies with the regulations. There is even, dare I say it, a rail crossing improvement program in the federal government that provides some funding, up to 50%, to improve railway crossing safety in case the judgment is that it's not safe enough.
    There is considerable attention in Transport Canada with respect to the issue of grade crossings. There are a lot of them in the country, and some of them have caused fatalities—you're quite right about it—more than people think.
    The particular one I'm talking about never used to have the barriers. It does now, so that would fall within the province and the municipality, yes?
    Okay, thank you.


    Mr. Badawey.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    My first question is for clarification.
     Earlier, the comment was made by Ms. Raitt, ironically, with respect to the budget being cut by $400 million. I do note, Mr. Minister, that you did inherit a very difficult financial situation from the previous government. However, cuts worth $400 million were made. When did that actually begin?
     In fact, over the last four years the previous government, the Conservatives, cut $473 million from Transport Canada, and $171 million of that was for CATSA. That is the organization, as you know, that checks security at the airports. That is something that we as a new government have inherited, and it has presented us with certain challenges. I want to make the point that, despite that, I will do absolutely everything in my ministry to make sure that safety and security remain the top priorities, because we need to convince Canadians that their system is secure and safe, and we need to take the measures to do it.
    It is something we have to live with from the previous government, and it did have an impact.
    Thank you.
    Moving over to another issue, it is a border community in my part of the world, and probably in many parts of the world that we all live in, throughout the country. You most recently visited Washington, D.C., and I am sure from that began a positive dialogue with our U.S. partners.
    Having said that, what steps, Mr. Minister, are being taken to expedite the transportation of both people and goods between Canada and the United States?
    It's a good question. If we are talking about people, then we are talking about the borders or flying across, and to a much lesser extent about ships.
    A lot of people fly to the United States on a daily basis, back and forth, so pre-clearance, which is something that was started under the previous government in discussions with the United States, is an ongoing issue. Pre-clearance, as you know, allows airports.... There are eight airports in Canada that have pre-clearance, but there are a couple more that have asked for it. Billy Bishop, and in Quebec City, Jean Lesage, have asked for pre-clearance. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for them and I think ultimately makes for a smoother flow of passenger traffic. Those are things we are discussing with the United States.
    I was very pleasantly surprised at the degree of harmonization that we have with the Department of Transportation in the United States with respect to the transportation of goods. I think that in some cases we still have some work to do to harmonize regulations because if a truck or a train crosses and comes into a different set of rules on each side, then that presents difficulties. We want things to be as smooth and fluid as possible, but I think we have achieved some pretty remarkable things over the.... I'll give the previous government credit as well. It is in our mutual interest to have that. There are still some things that we can improve with respect to that.
    We are always concerned about the border becoming thicker. It would be nice if we could keep the cargo moving. As you know, over $2 billion cross between Canada and the United States on a daily basis, mostly by train or truck. As they said on TV last night, Canada is the largest destination for 35 states in the United States. We are their main importer. The more efficient we can make that, the better. That is why I met not only with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, but also with Homeland Security, because they are responsible for the border services and for issues like pre-clearance. We are trying to make it as smooth and fluid as possible whilst addressing Americans' number one concern, security. I think we are making progress.
    If I may, Madam Chair....
    I'm sorry, your time is up.
    If we are going to start another round, I need to bring to your attention that we started 15 minutes late due to the vote. Is it the desire of the committee to continue, to make up the 15 minutes and do another round? I am noting that we have allocated half an hour or so to do some committee business once the minister has left and we have dealt with our main estimates.
    What is the desire of the committee? Do you want to continue for an extra 15 minutes and make up the time where we started late? It means we'll start another round.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: If that is the desire of the committee, then that is what we'll do.
    Mr. Hardie, go ahead.


     Did Transport Canada have any lapsed funding returned to the government in the last number of years?
    I'll turn to our CFO for that.
    Last year we did not and this year we are forecasting no lapses.
    It's important to distinguish a lapse from a carry forward. We have space for carry forward both on the operational and the capital budget, but we have had some years where we've carried forward and we had money beyond the carry forward cap and so that money lapses.
    It's just an observation, and we saw it in Veterans Affairs and in a few other areas where a significant amount of lapsed funding went forward primarily because other cutbacks cut back staff and you need staff, of course, to implement programs and obviously use the allocations that you're given.
    I have some sympathy for the railways when it comes to the issue of crossings.
    My colleague Dianne and I both share an interest in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe's route along the shoreline in South Surrey—White Rock, because there are quite a number of unauthorized level crossings along that way. That is an ongoing headache for the railroads because you never know if during the summer holidays the kids cut a path through the bush and the next thing you know they're crossing the road to get to the beach.
    There's been a lot of discussion and in fact a great deal of good work along the corridor to the Roberts Bank terminal to grade separate roads.
    Is there much science or study done on grade separations for the railroads themselves?
    I mention that specifically because one of the proposals that we see coming out of South Surrey—White Rock is for a tunnel to allow the train to have a very short route, much shorter than it's taking now, and obviously mitigate some of the issues that you would if it was at grade.
    On the issue of grade separation, you're quite right that one of the things that in fact has helped the Asia-Pacific gateway to de-bottleneck.... People previously had to wait half an hour while a very long train went by, or the train had to slow down and let rush hour traffic go through. Grade crossings did represent a significant bottleneck in the Asia-Pacific gateway, particularly in the greater Vancouver area. Some significant projects were put through to provide grade separation.
    Grade separation can be important in de-bottlenecking so that nobody is stopped and everything moves smoothly, but there's another aspect of it as well that recently came to light, as you know, with the tragic event that occurred in south Ottawa where a VIA train struck a bus and there were, as I recall, six fatalities. The TSB examined it. One of the TSB recommendations to us at Transport Canada would be to look at perhaps putting together a set of guidelines that would dictate from a safety point of view when it would be appropriate to have grade separation from a safety point of view. That is something we just started recently to look at.
    Of course, grade separation implies sometimes considerable costs, but we are looking at it from a safety point of view in the sense of putting out guidelines that could be used by municipalities and others.


    Very quickly, on the issue of fatigue, I see there was a note here that one of the railways was cited for allowing engineers to work past regular hours. The airline industry keeps an eye on it. The trucking industry is a question, but that's a mixed bag of jurisdictions across the country.
    One of the things that hasn't been studied as far as I know is the long-term effects on the people who are forced to work weird hours, that later in life they have almost the impact of PTSD.
    Is there any thought to looking at that? We could be buying ourselves a lot of trouble in the years to come just because of the work rules that exist today.
     My deputy minister tells me we're looking at it, so I'll defer to him.
    The ADM can jump in on this, but we are looking at the issue of fatigue. As you said, it is a really complex phenomenon. It's not just the number of hours, but it also depends on people, depends on the full cycle. More and more studies are being done on this. There have been demands from the air industry, for example, the pilots.
    This is actually something that is one of our top priorities, because as you said, there's a mix of accidents and also economic impact. Those accidents cost a lot of money in the end, so it's better to have a system in place that ensures that fatigue does not become an issue from a safety perspective.
    Ms. Watts.
    Thank you very much.
    I have to add that I'm glad to hear you're talking about the border crossings and all of those things. In my riding, I have the second largest border crossing in the country, next to Windsor's, so it's quite significant.
    I want to go back to the main estimates and to the 2015-16 balanced budget that we put forward. Then I look at the main estimates here. I'll just go through a few items.
    The gateways and border crossings fund has been cut by half. The Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor transportation infrastructure fund has been cut by half. The centre of excellence has been cut by more than half. We also have the environmental stewardship of transportation and the clean air from transportation programs cut by more than half the budget as well.
    Can you speak to why that would be?
    We're talking about the main estimates here, and it's simply the fact that these programs, many of which spent over multiple years, have essentially spent all their money. We can't speculate here about the future, but for example, the Asia-Pacific corridor initiative had a certain amount of money put in by the previous government, and it's used up now.
    That's quite separate from an exercise that's going to come forward in a couple of weeks, but the main estimates have to be ready by March 1, I think it is. They reflect the situation as it exists. Don't confuse it with the budget. It's just a reflection of the financial reality of the situation.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Berthold.


    Mr. Garneau, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, there are many human factors, such as signalling and operator fatigue, that can cause rail accidents. These cases are especially delicate because when we talk about human factors—as we saw in the Lac-Mégantic area—these situations are really hard to control. It is difficult to enforce the regulations and ensure that they are fully and faithfully respected. What do you plan to do to address all the human factors that can cause rail accidents?
    In the rail sector specifically, we recently decided to impose regulatory measures on CP regarding fatigue and the concept of a workday, because there is a maximum number of hours these people can work. We found that CP was not obeying the rules regarding the length of a workday. Breaking those rules can lead to fatigue problems.
    We also just conducted an exam with respect to pilots. We are also examining that situation. It also depends on a number of factors. There is the issue of setting limits on a workday, but in some cases, we are also looking at a concept called



fatigue risk management system


in order to ensure that fatigue does not cause an accident.
    In the trucking industry, in 2017, what is known as


electronic data loggers


are going to be mandatory. It is a tool to measure how long a truck driver has been driving. We recognize the importance of addressing the issue of fatigue.
    Is there a difference between how the rules are enforced for large corporations—you mentioned CP—and for smaller companies? You can't be everywhere at once. Are they harder to enforce in the case of smaller companies?
    It is different.
    Let's talk about airlines. If we compare a large airline like Air Canada and a smaller company that has a few small planes and fewer passengers, of course there are different measures.


    Laureen, can you expand a little on that?
    In most of the modes of transportation there are regulations or rules that set out the hours of operation for trucking, or the pilot hours of work for aviation, etc. Those rules apply fairly prescriptively as a set of requirements. Within each industry they apply how they work within that—


    Yes, but is it harder to ensure oversight?
    That's right. It's always a question of knowing how to ensure oversight. Things are working well, but it can be difficult, depending on the type of operation.


    If it's a small company operating at a farther distance, then it's something you have to travel more frequently to. We do look at all of those things, and we have risk-based inspections to assess which ones have the higher risks.


    What matters, above and beyond the regulations, is that the corporate culture makes is possible to identify signs of fatigue. One of the most important factors is that there are people who are aware of these regulations and look for signs of fatigue among employees, given that this fatigue can be cumulative.


    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Fraser.
    Thank you.
    I think we were planning on sharing time. I didn't know who was first, but I'm happy to take a crack at it.
    I want to come back to highway safety for a moment. It's important to my area and to the country as a whole.
     There are significant portions of the Trans-Canada Highway that are essentially single-lane highway each way. Without having a divided highway, a car accident not only can be potentially fatal, but can cause dramatic inefficiencies when the road shuts down and have a negative impact on the environment with emissions. Fuel efficiency doesn't matter a whole lot when you're idling on a highway.
    I'm wondering, in your deliberations with the provinces, if there'll be any special attention given to highway projects that might expand untwinned highways to build a divided highway.
    Not specifically, not that come to mind.
     The safety of our highways...some of it is provincial. We do work with the provinces.
     Our focus is more on the design of the car so that it is safe and the regulations with respect to...or the requirements for people to.... The safe design of the car is our primary priority, whilst the safety of the road typically is more of a provincial responsibility, although we do have safety codes where we work together.


     Building on that, I understand that a few weeks ago there was a significant recall of the Toyota RAV4s. Can you describe to me what kind of process, not necessarily specific to the RAV4 recall, Transport Canada undertakes to ensure the safety of vehicles that are on the highways?
     Yes. I'm really proud of Transport Canada on that one, because they recreated what they considered to be the circumstances of the RAV4 crash that killed the backseat passengers, not those in the front. It was quite clear that the safety belt had ruptured. The reason for it, after recreating the situation, was that it rubbed against a sharp piece of metal, which is part of the seat frame in the back, and that caused it to break.
    It is a Transport Canada team that's based in Blainville that did this whole recreation with dummies and the whole thing, and conclusively discovered the cause of it. It's led to the recall of 2.9 million RAVs. That's the kind of safety work that makes us all proud as Canadians, to see that Canada is contributing.
    There are a lot of very specialized people in Transport Canada who do this kind of stuff. There are people who certify airplanes, like the C Series. It's a very technical place. When your job is car safety, you live that all day long and you are always looking at ways to make cars safe. That's why they're the people who also say if you bring a car back from another country, they'll know whether it conforms to Canada's safety regulations. I've been in that case myself, where I bought a car in the States and brought it back to Canada. I had to get it modified to conform to Canadian regulations.
    That's an example of their doing their job and doing it well.
    I expect there are only a few minutes left for Mr. Iacono.
    Yes, very little, a minute and a half.
    You recently ordered CP to comply with work rest rules when the company violated them. Do you have any reason to believe this is happening on a wider scale? What is the situation with VIA as well as with CN? What has been done? In other words, how often have work rest rules been reviewed in order to comply with more safety around train tracks?
    I have no reason to believe that there are widespread violations. Obviously, we have to continue to inspect and to be vigilant to be sure that is the case. It does happen, but I don't think it's something that is happening on any large scale.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Iacono.
    The time is expiring.
    I don't get a third round?
    There's not enough time, Ms. Duncan.
    Well, how fair is that? It's not.
    I have to deal here with the adoption of the main estimates. I need the committee's attention, please.
     The chair will call the votes.
ç Vote 1—Payments to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for operating and capital expenditures..........$624,005,722
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$24,290,330
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Payments to Marine Atlantic Inc...........$140,122,000
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$110,040,788
ç Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$68,690,586
ç Vote 10—Contributions..........$1,612,886,500
    (Votes 1, 5, and 10 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Payments to The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited..........$31,414,312
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Payments to the Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc...........$351,919,000
    (Vote 1 agreed to)
ç Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$480,702,203
ç Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$119,226,521
ç Vote 10—Contributions—Gateways and corridors..........$258,354,429
ç Vote 15—Grants and contributions — Transportation infrastructure..........$103,219,554
ç Vote 20—Grants and contributions — Other..........$38,062,477
    (Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Payments to VIA Rail Canada Inc...........$382,830,000
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ç Vote 1—Payments to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority..........$215,989,827
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
    The Chair: Shall the chair report vote 1 under the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; vote 1 under Canadian Transportation Agency; vote 1 under Marine Atlantic; votes 1, 5, and 10 under Office of Infrastructure of Canada; vote 1 under The Federal Bridge Corporation; vote 1 under The Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges; votes 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 under Transport; vote 1 under VIA Rail Canada; and vote 1 under Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority to the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Thank you very much.
    Thank you very much, Minister Garneau and your departmental staff, for being here with us today and staying a whole two hours. That's a lot of time, I know. We really appreciate your taking that time and staying with us.


     Thank you, Madam Chair. It was a pleasure.
     We'll suspend for a couple of minutes.



    Would members please return to the table.
    Is it the wish of the committee to go in camera to deal with committee business?
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Chair: We will continue the meeting, then.
    We're here to discuss our work plan for the next little while.
    Ms. Block.
    Madam Chair. I think that you would find that we've reached unanimous consent to put forward the motion that I have in front of me, if you'll indulge me. Further to the motions already accepted by this committee, it is further moved, as subject to our duty:
That, further to the motions already adopted by the Committee on Monday, February 22, 2016, the Committee prioritize any legislation, financial commitments or regulatory changes related to transport, infrastructure and communities in Budget 2016, and ministerial announcements in its future businesses, as subject to our duty;

That the Committee begin a study on rail safety on March 21, 2016 and consider:

(A) the implementation of recommendations made in the report "Review of the Canadian Transportation Safety Regime: Transportation of Goods and Safety Management System",

(B) the section of the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) line that runs between the U.S. border through the Semiahmoo First Nation land, the City of White Rock and the City of Surrey (Crescent Beach/Ocean Park) British Columbia,

(C) potential safety issues related to use by rail companies of remote control devices to move locomotives and to assemble trains,

(D) measures taken or identified as necessary to address the outstanding concerns with fatigue management with implications for rail safety, including hearing from the Transportation Safety Board analysts on the impact of train engineer fatigue on railway safety in Canada, and

(E) And other items found to be appropriate by the Committee; and

That the Committee dedicate at least three meetings to consider the Canada Transportation Act review before Thursday, June 23, 2016.


    Is there unanimous consent?
    Mr. Badawey.
    I want clarification on the last recommendation, number three. Did I hear “that the committee dedicate three meetings” or “at least three meetings”? If we can, add “at least”.
    Where is that?
    That the committee dedicate at least three meetings.
    I thought I said “at least”.
    I was just clarifying. Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Ms. Duncan.
    Yes. I am agreeable to it, except there was one amendment that I recommended, which was agreed to but isn't here.
    That's under (D), it reads, “measures taken or identified as necessary to address outstanding concerns with fatigue management with implications for rail safety, including hearing from the Transportation Safety Board”. It was supposed to read “and other relevant parties”, because there are other relevant parties.
    Okay, yes.
    Is everybody in agreement with that?
    There's unanimous support.
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: I do have to ask the analyst, though, before we adjourn the meeting, when she would like to have the names of some witnesses, so that she could have some work ready for us at our March 21 meeting.
     I would probably defer to the clerk as to what the recommendation is for the minimum amount of time to invite witnesses and have them prepared. If the committee were to agree to start with Transport Canada, though, then we could be ready to go on the 21st, and you could have until the 17th to get your suggested witnesses together.
    Ms. Duncan.
    I'm now left confused with what we're doing. On day one, my concern about rail safety was that we not try to deal with everything all in one bundle, so I'm left not understanding how the heck we're doing this review.
     It makes sense to me if we have one day to talk about remote control devices, one day to talk about fatigue management, and maybe one on the broader review, because otherwise, we're going to have witnesses all over the place answering questions about all kinds of things, and it's not going to be a very orderly review.
    I think we can come up with discrete witnesses who are useful for each of those separate ones, but I don't want them here all at once, because we won't even have a chance to ask them the appropriate questions.
     If we can agree on how to divide up the pie, I think that would be helpful. Then we would know which witnesses we need first.
    For each one of those topics, remote control devices, fatigue, etc., there are so many witnesses who could speak to those that it would be difficult to organize meetings by subject. I would suggest organizing meetings by witnesses, and yes, asking them questions on all of the subjects before the committee.
    I do recognize that the work looks very broad with the four topics, but two of them are really only for Transport Canada: checking up on their progress on their commitments to the committee's last study, as well as the 2007 Railway Safety Act review, and that's a pretty limited topic that could be dealt with in one meeting.
    Ms. Duncan, in the work plan that was sent out this morning, in this motion of Ms. Block's, it elaborates a bit more, but the same four areas that we've all talked about, and that are in the motions from you, from Ms. Block, and from Mr. Hardie and so on, are all in that work plan that we just adopted here.
    The witnesses, as the analyst said, will come in according to various parts of the study that we're moving forward on.
    Mr. Hardie.


    In deference to Ms. Duncan, I'd need to know what kind of crossover the witnesses would bring in terms of their ability to speak to remote-controlled devices versus fatigue management, which seem to be two quite different areas. I share the concern that if we tried to handle both those issues at once, we wouldn't end up handling either of them very well.
    I think each witness is going to have a portfolio of positions on each of these. To approach the study topic by topic, you'd end up inviting witnesses back several times and having potentially 10 witnesses at the same meeting or having several meetings for the same topic, and again inviting them back several times to discuss different issues.
    Are you convinced that the same people would be able to speak to both issues? These are quite different.
    The unions will certainly have positions on each of these topics—
    Mr. Ken Hardie: Oh yes, they will.
    Ms. Allison Padova: —as will the railway companies.
    Then there's the specific topic experts. What is the safety of robotics? What are the fail-safes? There are things that we need to drill in on. We know generally where the unions are going to come from and generally where the railways are coming from. What we need are the people in between who can give us an objective view of the picture, right?
    Ms. Allison Padova: Right.
    Mr. Ken Hardie: That then leads to some kind of measurable result, which is our intent here at this committee. This is what we want to be able to do, produce something that actually moves the needle. I would be really concerned if it just got into a big blender and we ended up not really knowing what we heard or where we got.
    I think that providing guidance to each witness about the terms of reference for the study and the specific issues that the committee would like information on beforehand would allow them to prepare their remarks to address those questions and allow a lot of time for committee members to follow up on anything that they want more details about.
     I have a list. I have Ms. Block, Mr. Fraser, and then I have Ms. Duncan.
    Madam Chair, I want to support the recommendation of our analyst to start with the officials from Transport Canada. I think she makes a good case for some of the things we've asked for.
    I also think what would be helpful is if we got our lists of witnesses in to the analysts or the clerk. Then we could start to see where there's some crossover and where it might work to have folks at the same meeting or not. There are time schedules. It's going to be up to their time schedules, and we can't dictate that. I think what we can do is that after we have all the testimony we can organize whatever report we want to submit in a way that makes sense according to what we've heard and the different issues.
    I would suggest that might be a way we want to move forward for today.
    Mr. Fraser.
    I would suggest that Transport Canada would have some crossover, but for the other witnesses, I'm not so sure. I think if there's agreement we can deal with them first and then maybe sort the rest off-line after the meeting in discussions as a group, or maybe at the steering committee level. That might be a more efficient way to deal with this.
    Ms. Duncan.
    With all due respect, I'm a little puzzled that our analyst is giving us the advice. I've never seen that in eight years on how we're going to run our study. I think it's up to us to decide, having talked to various people who have asked me to bring these issues forward. I appreciate Mr. Hardie's support for what I'm saying.
    I think maybe (A) and (B) could go together. We're asking more broadly, what issues are that were identified in that 2008 study and since then. I would hope that we update since then because there are all kinds of reviews that have been done by the Transportation Safety Board, and so forth. I don't want to just talk about 2008. I think those potentially, with deference to Ms. Watts, could be combined.
    I don't even understand how you come up with three meetings if they're all jumbled together. I think that in respect for those who want to raise the thing about remote-control devices, or those who want to talk about fatigue management, I know for sure there are different union people who specialize in that. There are probably different people in the department who are dealing with those issues and different Transportation Safety Board inspectors who have looked at those issues. I think we give them clear direction and say, “On this day please send us the person in your agency or entity who has specifically dealt with this and can help us to come up with some recommendations”. It's fine if we say three days, but that's what I would see dividing up. Potentially (A) and (B) could be together or on a separate day. Then it's four days, but I don't see that, Ms. Watts, has anything to do with the remote control and fatigue, so it doesn't make sense to lump it all in together.
    I suggest we at least have one panel on fatigue and one panel on remote control, but to lump them all in together is just completely nonsensical.


    Thank you very much, Ms. Duncan.
    We've adopted the motion that's before us. Our analyst is suggesting we start with transportation, and all of us, knowing the issue, should get a list of all of the different witnesses that we want to come in to testify to the variety of ones. I will work with the analyst on how to break it down a bit so we're not talking about 16 different issues at the same meeting and so that we're blocking it down. I understand the concerns of the committee. That's my suggestion, as the chair, that we will move this along.
    Are there any other issues?
    I'd like you to start to bring them to us tonight, as soon as possible.
    For the meeting on the 21st, we'd like to have some witnesses by the 15th. You're suggesting to have the transportation department people. Get your witness names in for whatever part of the study as soon as you can.
    I'm going to move adjournment of the meeting.
    Don't we have another hour?
    Sure we could have another hour, but only if you supply the wine.
    Thank you very much. The meeting is adjourned.
Publication Explorer
Publication Explorer