Summary of stakeholder engagement – Halifax, Nova Scotia

Pilotage Act Review Roundtable – Halifax, Nova Scotia

November 16, 2017 – 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

The meeting was conducted under the Chatham House Rule. “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant may be revealed.”

Summary of Discussion

The participants presented their concerns and views on the Pilotage Act and potential areas for reform. We have grouped their comments under the following themes:

Governance

  • The Atlantic Pilotage Authority has done a lot of outreach, which was well-received and helped improve relationships between stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders believe objectives in the Pilotage Act should include:
    • Competitiveness
    • Use of technology
    • Risk management
  • The Act puts much emphasis on financial self-sufficiency, and should evolve to include a greater focus on efficiency.
  • Since the Act does not define financial self-sufficiency, each Authority has had to define what it means in their area, which includes planning for the future.
  • Stakeholders discussed pilotage salaries and work hours and comparisons. What is a reasonable cost for pilotage?
  • A suggestion to separate the service and regulatory functions of pilotage to ensure objectivity fuelled a discussion about how to achieve this. This included whether Transport Canada should have responsibility for setting national standards, with the Pilotage Authorities having the freedom to regulate in local areas.
  • Stakeholders expressed concerns about the available expertise and capacity of Transport Canada to assume more responsibility.
  • During discussions on the amalgamation of the four Pilotage Authorities, some stakeholders:
    • Questioned the need for amalgamation, noting their support for the existing model.
    • Expressed concerns that a change in governance structure would affect the good work done by pilots.
    • Expressed concerns that amalgamation could increase costs without producing significant efficiency gains.
    • Suggested placing an emphasis on harmonizing pilotage between regions and then address local issues through operational procedures and guidelines.
    • Gave support to maintaining regional representation, and voiced concerns that amalgamation may result in losing a voice for Atlantic Canada. However, a national Pilotage Authority or Board may be better placed to advocate for future changes.
    • Held the view that a national authority would:
      • Be able to standardize requirements, policies, and procedures leading to efficiencies, cost control and consistency of services and best practices.
      • Provide a national perspective with greater objectivity, while regional operation centres could provide the regional perspective.
    • Compared the amalgamation model to:
      • Many large companies that have a central office with regional offices, and one board.
      • The Coast Guard, a national organization, with regional offices.
  • During discussions about the Board of Directors’ composition:
    • Suggestions included:
      • Define the role of the Board before deciding its composition
      • Have more industry representation
      • Include shipper and port representatives, for a more commercial perspective
      • Consider inviting candidates with no ties to the Industry.
    • Some stakeholders feel the fact that most pilotage costs are salaries, creates a conflict of interest when discussing this at the Board of Directors, as pilots are part of the Board.
  • Some stakeholders are reluctant to make recommendations on governance options before Transport Canada’s contract on governance/operating options is complete. There was a suggestion that Transport Canada host a governance-specific roundtable to discuss this issue.

Safety

  • Stakeholders discussed that safety and costs need to be balanced. Pilots are not the sole custodians of safety, as all stakeholders have an interest in a safe marine shipping system.
  • There was a suggestion to introduce new technology into pilotage more quickly, and ensure the Act allows for this. There was some frustration that improvements in navigation technology have had little impact on pilot processes and procedures.
  • Certification:
    • Pilot certificate holders have good safety record, mainly because of improvements in bridge management and technology.
    • A suggestion was made to implement a national pilotage certification program, similar to what the Great Lakes region uses. Transport Canada should administer it as a way to ensure objectivity and a consistent approach. The concern this suggestion raised was that this may lead to a two-tier system if one system is administered by the Authority and the other by Transport Canada.
    • The pilotage certificate process should be skill and competency based through objective assessments.
    • There was a suggestion to expand certification so masters/mates can operate within a company’s fleet or a class of ships. However, some were concerned this could introduce competition.
  • Pilotage Risk Management Methodology (PRMM):
    • Suggestions included:
      • Transport Canada should lead the risk assessment process to make it more objective. However, this raised concerns about Transport Canada’s capacity; that this transfer may not achieve a better result; and could result in a slower process.
      • The PRMM should consider all aspects of risk – e.g., assess navigational risk, not just pilotage risk. Currently, PRMMs seem to respond to all risk by recommending more pilotage.
    • There was general support for a high level scan before initiating a full PRMM, as often there are no significant developments or changes in the area.

Labour

  • There was discussion about widening the elements an arbitrator must consider during the dispute resolution process (e.g., consider financial statements and ensure provisions are consistent with the regulatory framework).
  • Information related to pilotage corporations should be made public and subject to the Auditor General’s audit process.
  • The Authority doesn’t have a big issue with pilot recruitment, as there are applicants for open positions.
  • Stakeholders suggested hiring more short-term seasonal contract pilots to manage temporary fluctuations in traffic. The group acknowledged that there may be a limited number of applicants.

Tariffs and Economic Concerns

  • Most agree that the tariff process is lengthy and cumbersome, but changes must not remove an objection process.
  • The industry expressed a preference for more predictable cost increases, noting that other marine fees haven’t changed at the same rate as pilotage.

Enforcement

  • There was some discussion about increasing the standard ($1,000 of local currency) fines and amounts for pilot liability. The ship owners are ultimately responsible for any damages, and could be subject to increased costs as a result of pilots needing additional insurance. Overall, any changes to pilot liability would not decrease ship owners’ responsibility.
  • There was a suggestion to create a panel to address liability/fines.

Performance Indicators

  • Stakeholders suggested introducing key performance indicators to measure efficiency, and assist in comparing Pilotage Authorities performance, as each reports performance differently.
  • Examples of indicators Authorities could reported on, included:
    • call-backs (overtime)
    • thresholds for staffing actions
    • hours worked
    • bridge hours worked
    • stand-by
    • training
    • consultation
    • port-to-port times
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