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TRAN Committee Report

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Mr. Larry Miller
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Miller:

Pursuant to Section 109 of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, please accept this as the Government of Canada’s Response to the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, “Innovative Transportation Technologies”.

In February 2012, the Committee undertook to examine innovation in the transportation sector, focusing on: 

  • new transportation technologies that are commercially viable;
  • barriers to commercialization and adoption of new transportation technologies; and
  • government’s role in enabling advances in transportation research and technology.

This Government recognizes the importance of innovation as a key driver of growth and enhanced competitiveness in the transportation sector.  The sector contributes significant benefits to Canada’s gross domestic product and employment.  Transportation is essential to Canada’s success in global commerce and trade in goods and services, and as such is integral to Canada’s economy.  Innovation has a strong role to play in this globally competitive sector, to capitalize on opportunities and to help address challenges such as energy use, emissions, efficiency and safety objectives.  That is why the federal government is contributing to transportation innovation, research and technology adoption.

The Government of Canada is committed to maximizing the effectiveness of federal programs that foster business innovation, investment and competitiveness.  Economic Action Plan 2012 made significant progress in implementing the recommendations made by the Expert Review Panel on Research and Development in its October 2011 report, Innovation: A Call to Action.  Economic Action Plan 2013 continues to respond to the Expert Panel’s advice.  This includes:  refocusing the National Research Council to concentrate on business-led, industry-relevant research; supporting the commercialization of research by small and medium-sized enterprises; strengthening research partnerships between post-secondary institutions and industry; continuing support for the development and demonstration of new, clean technologies that create efficiencies for businesses and contribute to sustainable economic development; and strengthening the impact of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program to provide greater predictability and enhance enforcement to benefit both large and small businesses involved in research and development.

This approach provides a solid foundation on which Canada’s globally competitive businesses can build by making investments in innovation required to create high-value jobs and long-term economic growth.

I appreciate the issues and observations that industry stakeholders have raised and that underpin the Committee’s recommendations.  It is important to recognize that many of these stakeholders identified the public sector as a key partner in private sector development and adoption of innovation within the transportation sector.  It is important that we ensure that industry has the tools and support to enable the next generation of transportation innovation in Canada.  To this end, federal support focuses on business-relevant, problem-driven research and technology activities that increase private sector investments in Canadian research, support training of skilled researchers and accelerate the timeline involved in technology commercialization and adoption. 

With respect to the on-road vehicle, rail, aerospace and alternative fuel industries, the federal government is actively engaged in collaborative activities that are driven by industry needs, involve active industrial participation and significantly leverage industry-partner contributions to federal investment.  Collaborative research and development activities of benefit to the automotive industry – including AUTO21, Automotive Partnerships Canada and the Automotive Innovation Fund – support strategic research projects by automotive companies focusing on safety, emissions-reducing and fuel-saving technologies, and next generation manufacturing.  Similarly, the federal government works in collaboration with Canada’s freight and passenger railways through the Railway Research Advisory Board to improve safety practices through the use of technology.  With respect to the aerospace sector, Economic Action Plan 2013 confirmed stable funding for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative and announced the creation of an Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program, responding to the recommendation from the 2012 Aerospace Review to support the commercialization of new aerospace products.

The Committee’s Report makes a number of recommendations pertaining to regulatory issues such as performance-based regulation and regulatory harmonization to facilitate the adoption of new transportation technologies.  This Government notes the well-established and active regulatory efforts underway jointly with industry and government stakeholders, including many of those identified in the Report.  Since 2008, the federal government has focused on transforming the regulation of transportation safety by adopting safety management systems.  This approach illustrates the federal government’s support for more flexible alternatives to traditional, prescriptive regulation, where appropriate.  In addition, the Government is committed to the implementation of regulatory reforms stemming from the Red Tape Reduction Commission to reduce administrative burden on large and small businesses, and from the Canada‑U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to better harmonize and streamline regulations.  The RCC Joint Action Plan for Transportation focuses regulatory reform efforts on road, rail, air and marine issues.  Enhanced regulatory cooperation through the RCC will have wide-ranging benefits, including improving the competitiveness of businesses, facilitating cross-border trade and fostering a joint approach to new and emerging transportation technologies. 

The Government is committed to reducing transport-related emissions, improving the safety and efficiency of the transportation system and also advancing the adoption of clean technologies.  Recently implemented greenhouse gas emissions regulations for new passenger cars and trucks, and heavy duty trucks, will significantly improve the efficiency of new vehicles sold in Canada.  To meet these new standards, vehicle manufacturers and importers will increase the penetration of fuel saving technologies in new vehicles sold in Canada, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, among other innovations.   Further, the federal ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles Program is conducting in-depth performance testing on these new and emerging vehicle technologies to ensure that vehicle regulators have the information necessary to proactively develop safety and environmental regulations.  The program’s results also support the work of industry to develop the codes and standards required to commercialize and integrate new innovations in Canada, in a safe and timely manner. 

In closing, I wish to thank the Committee for its work on this Report and express my appreciation to all who appeared before the Committee to share their views.  The findings are consistent with broader federal initiatives already underway and will continue to inform government planning.  The Government actively assesses the effectiveness of the federal approach to promote initiatives to spur innovation, research and technology adoption in the transportation sector, ensuring that it supports industry efforts to respond to challenges and opportunities.


The Honourable Denis Lebel, P.C., M.P.