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Results: 1 - 15 of 124
Kevin Brosseau
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Kevin Brosseau
2020-06-22 12:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the committee for inviting us here today.
I'd like to begin by recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis that is significantly impacting all aspects of the Canadian transportation industry—travellers, shippers and our economy. During these times, Transport Canada's highest priority is the safety and security of Canadians and the transportation system. This means protecting passenger and crew health and safety as well as ensuring the continued flow of the food and supplies that Canadians need to remain healthy.
That is why, since the earliest stages of the pandemic, Transport Canada has worked hard to introduce a range of layered measures, guidance and requirements to ensure that transportation operations remain safe for workers and passengers. The department's work is informed by the latest science and data as well as the guidance of public health officials and agencies. The Minister of Transport has also exercised his authority to enact measures under several pieces of legislation, including the Canada Marine Act, the Aeronautics Act and the Canada Shipping Act, in the face of this extraordinary situation.
I would like to outline some of the actions taken to date.
The close confines of cruise ships were identified early on as high-risk for spread of the disease. On March 13 the minister announced that the Government of Canada intended to postpone the start of the cruise ship season until at least the end of October. In addition, he also prohibited all Canadian Arctic stops for the entire season.
Even as the government restricted non-essential travel, we worked to help keep the air and marine sectors moving safely and to ensure that supply chains were not disrupted. That is why the government announced, on March 16 and 17, general extensions for some marine personnel certificates and aviation medical certificates.
On March 17 the minister also issued an interim order requiring Canadian air operators to conduct a health check of all air passengers travelling to Canada from international locations. Operators must now deny boarding to any traveller with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of citizenship. That same day, the minister waived the requirement for ferry operators to make passengers leave their vehicles while on board during the crisis. In the interest of promoting physical distancing, passengers are now allowed to remain in their cars as long as operators put extra safety precautions in place.
Since March 18, all international flights have been directed to only four Canadians airports— Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver—to consolidate available resources for checking international passengers.
On March 19 the Minister of Transport issued an exemption for marine crews entering Canada, deeming them essential. This exemption ensures that food, medicine and other essential products continue to arrive safely at our ports.
On March 21 the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada was working with Canadian airlines and foreign governments to provide access to commercial flights for thousands of Canadian travellers who wanted to return home and were faced with challenging circumstances abroad. We also worked with Canadian airlines to ensure that stranded Canadians were offered a reasonable commercial price for return tickets home.
In late March the Minister of Transport took a further step to contain the spread of the virus by requiring all air operators and intercity passenger rail companies to conduct a health check of travellers. They must perform this check on travellers before they board a flight or intercity train in Canada and deny boarding to those with visible signs of the illness.
In early April Transport Canada introduced guidelines to help keep commercial vehicle drivers safe as they carry out their essential work. The department worked with other federal departments, industry representatives and unions to develop the guidelines. A few days later, the department issued guidance allowing commercial drivers to move freely across provincial and territorial borders.
On April 5 several mandatory requirements for commercial marine vessels carrying more than 12 passengers were introduced. Among other changes, these operators were prohibited from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation, and these measures were updated at the end of May. The minister also prohibited Canadian cruise ships from mooring, navigating or transiting in Canadian Arctic waters. Any foreign passenger vessel wishing to enter Canadian Arctic waters must first obtain permission and agree to conditions to protect marine personnel and local communities.
Under these changes, ferries and other essential passenger vessels can continue to operate, but at half their maximum capacity, or introduce other practices that align with Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
This could include keeping people in their vehicles, when feasible, or enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.
In addition, to better protect employees and passengers, Transport Canada issued guidelines to ferry operators similar to those for air and intercity rail passengers. Ferry operators must now screen passengers for signs of COVID-19 before boarding, and deny boarding to anybody showing signs of the illness.
As I mentioned, the safety and security of Canadians and the transportation system remain our top priority. That’s why, effective April 20, it was announced that all air travellers must wear a non-medical mask or face covering over their mouth and nose when going through security, when boarding and when on the plane when physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained. Air passengers on flights to or from Canadian airports must show that they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering at boarding or they will not be allowed to board the plane. In addition, we have encouraged anyone travelling by train, boat, bus or ferry to also wear face coverings whenever possible.
Furthermore, the operators of ferries and essential passenger vessels now provide public messaging to travellers about the need for a face covering during their journey. The messaging stresses the need for passengers to use them to cover their mouth and nose when they cannot maintain physical distance from others.
In May, the Minister of Transport extended the prohibition of cruise ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people until October 31, 2020. Those with no overnight accommodations, and those that carry fewer than 100 people overnight, are deferred until at least July 1 of this year.
Earlier this month, the minister announced the expansion of the requirements for the use of face coverings for workers and others involved in the transportation sector. Also, as of the end of June, air operators will be required to conduct temperature screenings at the point of departure for all passengers on international flights entering Canada. This will apply regardless of a passenger's point of origin.
By the end of July, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority will also be responsible for screening passengers’ temperatures as part of the departure procedures for domestic, transborder and international flights. It will also check the temperatures of airport and aviation personnel before they enter the restricted areas of airports, to help maintain a healthy and safe space for travellers and workers alike.
We acknowledge that the transportation system is vital for the restart of our economy and for our quality of life. It is vital for our safety and security. As the situation continues to evolve, Transport Canada is working closely with other levels of government and with senior transportation sector representatives to tailor our approach to protecting Canadians. We communicate daily with representatives from across federal, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, from the private sector and labour organizations and from indigenous communities.
On behalf of Transport Canada, I'd like to take a moment to recognize and thank workers across the transportation sector. In the face of challenges, they are keeping people and goods moving, ensuring that our country remains safe for all of us. Transport Canada employees, such as on-the-ground inspectors and many others, are so very critical for getting supplies to people and sustaining the Canadian economy. We appreciate all of their efforts as they continue to work with us and for Canadians.
My colleagues and I would be happy to answer any of your questions.
Lawrence Hanson
View Lawrence Hanson Profile
Lawrence Hanson
2020-06-22 12:25
With regard to the voucher policies in the United States and Europe, both the United States Department of Transportation and the European Commission had indicated that airlines would be absolutely required to provide refunds. I will say that our understanding, to date at least, is that this has not been fully enforced in the United States, and that although the European Commission took the position it did, a number of key European Union members are not requiring, at least to this point, their carriers to actually provide refunds.
Wendy Nixon
View Wendy Nixon Profile
Wendy Nixon
2020-06-22 12:34
The number of active cases is actually tracked by the Public Health Agency as part of the tracking that CBSA does at border crossings, so as people arrive and depart, we do get notified. It's not a significant number in recent weeks because of the travel volumes being so diminished, but they are the ones who track that. I'd be happy to follow up afterward with some additional information on the number of cases.
Thank you.
Nicholas Robinson
View Nicholas Robinson Profile
Nicholas Robinson
2020-06-22 12:58
Thank you.
Mr. Chair, we've spoken a lot about the measures that Transport Canada has taken and put in place, but we've also worked directly with industry on the many measures they also have put in place.
We see an industry that has had already significantly high standards with regard to grooming or cleaning and disinfection of the aircraft. They have gone much higher and put in additional measures with regard to grooming and disinfection of aircraft in between segments. They've looked at the filtration on aircraft. Many larger, more advanced commercial aircraft that you see right now have HEPA filters on them. They've used that and improved ways to filter the air in that aircraft more rapidly to further prevent the spread of the virus.
We see airports and air operators putting mechanisms in place to respect that recommendation for physical distancing, to improve their operations and their procedures. So, as you travel to Sydney airport, you see different mechanisms in place. You might see screens in front of your regular check-in operators, more encouragement to check your own bags.
The industry has gone well above any regulations that we have also put in place. We now have an industry that is much healthier than the regular activities you would do day in and day out where those measures aren't mandatory. You don't see mandatory face coverings in a lot of the businesses that you're moving into, but in the air industry you do.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm going to start off by calling the meeting to order.
I welcome you to meeting number seven of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities.
Members of the committee are meeting today because a meeting was requested by four members of the committee, pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), to discuss their request to undertake a study of ministers' spending priorities.
Today's meeting is taking place in person, and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So that you are aware, I will tell you that the webcast will show the person speaking rather than the entire committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Occupational health and safety have requested that we limit our movement in the room throughout the meeting. Individuals should always respect social distancing rules and remain two metres away from one another. Should you need to move around the room, please follow the arrows on the floor.
You will note that, to minimize health risks, limited personnel have been permitted to attend today's meeting. Staff have received a phone number where they can listen in to the proceedings in real time.
You will note, as well, that no paper documents have been distributed. All documents have been distributed electronically to all members. Should you require a copy of a document, please advise the clerk of the committee immediately by emailing the committee at TRAN@parl.gc.ca.
With that, I'll go to Mr. Doherty.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'd like to move a motion immediately that the committee immediately undertake a study on the spending priorities of Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada, and that the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Infrastructure each appear for one hour, separately, in the context of this study today.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
Are there any questions or comments on that motion?
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Thank you.
We have Minister Garneau with us.
Welcome, Minister. You have five minutes.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Good morning, Mr. Chair.
We're pleased to be here with you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to present supplementary estimates (A) for Transport Canada and the other agencies and Crown corporations that make up the transportation portfolio.
I am pleased to be accompanied, virtually of course, by the deputy minister of transport, Michael Keenan, and the assistant deputy minister of corporate services and chief financial officer, Ryan Pilgrim.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would like to preface my remarks today by noting the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the transportation sector here in Canada and, indeed, around the world.
On behalf of all Canadians, I want to thank the transportation workers who help ensure the steady flow of essential goods and services during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes truck drivers, flight and train crews, air traffic controllers, dockworkers and many more.
Transport Canada strives to be transparent. This is why the department links each grant and contribution vote to its purpose. The supplementary estimates (A) that are now before committee members include a summary of incremental financial requirements, as well as an overview of major funding requests and horizontal initiatives.
Transport Canada continues to foster a modern, leading-edge transportation system that will support Canada's growth for years to come. Canada must be ready for new technologies such as connected and automated vehicles. When new technologies can help us promote cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation, we must be ready to integrate them.
To this end, the supplementary estimates (A) include $47.3 million to extend the incentive for the zero-emissions vehicle program. Originally announced in budget 2019, this program will help achieve key targets for new light-duty vehicles in Canada, with objectives of 10% by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
Two items relate to VIA Rail. Our national passenger rail carrier aims to provide a safe, secure, efficient, reliable, and environmentally sustainable service. In addition to service through the Quebec-City-to-Windsor corridor, and long-haul service between Toronto and Vancouver, and between Montreal and Halifax, VIA Rail also serves many regional and remote communities.
For some of these communities, VIA Rail is the only year-round transportation option.
The supplementary estimates (A) request $264.6 million to ensure that VIA Rail continues to operate reliably and to maintain its capital assets adequately.
The second item for VIA Rail relates to proposed high-frequency rail service in the Quebec-City-to-Windsor corridor. The supplementary estimates (A) include $14.7 million for research and preparatory work related to the proposal. Of this amount, VIA Rail requests $12.8 million and Transport Canada requests $1.8 million. This work is important, to consider how the high-frequency network would complement and operate in tandem with other rail services in the corridor.
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, is seeking $309.4 million to help ensure that air travellers and workers at airports are effectively screened. This funding would support increased use of full-body scanners as well as other initiatives.
In budget 2019, the Government of Canada announced its intention to introduce legislation that would enable Transport Canada to sell the assets and liabilities of CATSA to an independent, not-for-profit entity. To this end, the supplementary estimates include $2.8 million to support negotiations for this transition.
The final item I will highlight is a request for $84.9 million for Marine Atlantic. A Crown corporation, Marine Atlantic operates ferry services on two routes between the province of Nova Scotia and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
I believe the items I have outlined today demonstrate the direction that the Government of Canada is pursuing to keep transportation in this country safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible.
I value input from committee members, and I look forward to continuing our work, to strengthen our transportation system and build a strong future for Canada.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for being here. I'll ask that you please keep your answers as succinct as possible.
Minister, are you familiar with Order Paper question 359? You signed off on it on April 11.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
I asked if you would be increasing a VIA Rail subsidy and you said no, yet today you're asking for $277 million. Can you explain why?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes. The way it works is that we provide funding to VIA Rail at the beginning of the year and then provide additional funding as the year goes on. That's a normal process in government, as it was under previous governments as well.
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