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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
This is a government that's willing to spend on infrastructure but hasn't necessarily done so in those areas, so that's a good ask.
The oceans protection plan's anchorages initiative is something that has been announced and it's looking at this very situation. What are your impressions of that program's effectiveness?
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Chris Straw
View Chris Straw Profile
Chris Straw
2018-10-18 10:26
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Our key focus of engagement with Transport Canada is through the anchorages initiative. I will point out that when it was announced we were surprised that the overall budget allocated for this three-year review of the entire anchorage system across the country was only $500,000. I think members of this committee would know you can't do much studying of anything for that amount. Our main concern is that the study actually takes a detailed look at the situation to not only investigate all the available options but also to figure out exactly what's going on.
With respect to the economic side, there's also the impact that they're having, and the anchorages initiative has agreed that it should be looking at the environmental, social and health impacts of these anchorages as well. Our concerns are that they're not well placed to be able to do that with the resources they have, and we're finding that they're already way behind in the timelines that have been proposed.
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View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you to all of you for being here.
Mr. Hutchinson, you mentioned the oceans protection plan in your statement, and you said it allows for a year-round presence. I believe, Ms. Weldon, you also talked about the oceans protection plan. What is new with this plan? What is it that you're capable of doing now that you weren't able to do before?
Do you want to start, Mr. Hutchinson?
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Jeffery Hutchinson
View Jeffery Hutchinson Profile
Jeffery Hutchinson
2018-09-19 16:10
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I'll turn to Deputy Commissioner Pelletier. He's the oceans protection plan lead for the Coast Guard, and for Fisheries and Oceans, as a departmental family.
To be clear, when we speak of year-round presence in the Arctic, we have a base that operates year-round in the Northwest Territories. I don't mean to suggest that we're currently able to deploy icebreakers year-round. Although, as Mario will describe in a moment, one of the key elements of OPP in the Arctic is extending the icebreaking season, both in the spring and in the autumn.
Mario.
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Mario Pelletier
View Mario Pelletier Profile
Mario Pelletier
2018-09-19 16:11
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There are a number of issues under the OPP that benefit the Arctic.
As the commissioner mentioned, the first one is the extension of the season. Last year we were out there for 35 more sea days. We intend to increase that by another 10 sea days in the next few years, basically showing up there a few weeks earlier in the spring and June and leaving a few weeks later in November. That's a major one, because more and more the resupply ships are there at the ice edge earlier, and they want to start resupplying. Obviously, they need to adjust depending on the ice conditions, but we make it our responsibility to make sure we're there to support them.
Another initiative is around the Coast Guard Auxiliary. We created a Coast Guard Auxiliary chapter in the Arctic. To give some context, throughout Canada the auxiliary has about 4,000 members, and about 1,100 units. In the Arctic right now we are at 15, we're going to be expanding with another five next year, and we have about 200 members. We're working really hard to expand that. We're going to increase the role of the auxiliary as well. Right now it's focused on search and rescue, and we provide training and everything else, but we want them to be part of the emergency response. If there's any pollution, they're on the ground, they're right in the community, so we can draw from their presence. Again, we'll provide training around that.
This year we also opened the first inshore rescue boat station in Rankin Inlet. That's a program we've had down south for many years. We hire students to deliver the search and rescue services. It's a very successful story in Rankin. We canvassed the 45 communities up north and did some risk assessment, and determined Rankin to be the best location. Also, we recruited from colleges and we had indigenous youth minding that station this summer. They just ended the operation last week.
The final one I want to touch on is the operational network. It's little known but the marine communications and traffic services centre in Iqaluit monitors the entire Arctic. This is where people report for NORDREG, ask for ice information and so on. We have dedicated, professional people at the centre who provide information and monitor the activities. We upgraded all the centres, and we have 11 communication towers throughout the Arctic that they use. Now we're upgrading the links between those towers to make sure we use state-of-the-art technology to ensure reliable communications networks, plus a business continuity plan.
These are all parts of investment for the Arctic.
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Jane Weldon
View Jane Weldon Profile
Jane Weldon
2018-09-19 16:14
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Our role, of course, is quite a bit less in terms of actual operations, but under the oceans protection plan, we did get some funding to be able to do vessel inspection in the Arctic. We have been able to dramatically increase the availability of our inspectors up north. They spend large chunks of the season up north inspecting various vessels at various facilities like Baffinland and in various ports as well. That allows us to ensure that the level of marine safety on vessels up there is kept to the same account. Historically, we had done the inspection in the south, but some vessels don't come down a lot and it's not the same thing.
Additionally, under the oceans protection plan, we've put a significant amount of funding into training. We have a contribution agreement with the institute in Iqaluit, and it has now opened up a training facility in Hay River where there wasn't previously a facility. That facility is doing training in marine with the goal of supplying more qualified mariners for various jobs in the north to increase the safety level for people who are fishing and engaging in other traditional uses of the marine environment.
Third, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, we're working with a number of Inuit groups to look at how to better supply them with marine domain awareness information. There are issues in the north about access—for example, when you're out in a boat—to satellite information or other information about who is in the Arctic and who is in the water. The goal we have there is to ensure that we have a tool, like an app, designed for their needs as opposed to the kinds of things you can get on site now that are designed for other people's needs.
I should also highlight that, outside of the oceans protection plan, we are working with corporate interests that mine in the north to look at whether there are needs for formal pilotage services, be they formal through one of the pilotage authorities or less formal but requiring certain qualifications for people to be able to land those large ships in the various ports to ensure that there is adequate safety with respect to how those vessels land. As you can imagine, a large cargo ship is not the easiest thing to “park”, as we like to jokingly say. We are now working with various companies to ensure that there are appropriate services in place so that we don't have any accidents.
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