Support for the people of Lac-Mégantic

In total, the Government of Canada has pledged more than $155 million to support the community of Lac-Mégantic following the tragedy of July 6, 2013.

Support for the people of Lac-Mégantic:

  • Committing $60 million to the Lac-Mégantic community in support of response and recovery efforts.
    • Of the $60 million, an initial amount of $25 million was provided to the Government of Quebec by Public Safety Canada in March 2014 in order to meet immediate response and recovery needs, including the costs associated with rescue and evacuation, security measures in the short term and the removal of hazardous materials and damaged structures.
    • The subsequent $35 million, provided by the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, will support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure and the implementation of economic development activities at the community level. This $35 million envelope is divided into three components:
      1. Component 1: $20 million for reconstruction efforts.
      2. Component 2: $10 million over 7 years in direct support to be provided to businesses and non-profit organizations (NPOs) to support economic recovery.
      3. Component 3: $5 million in assistance in the form of two investment funds that will be managed by the Société d´aide au développement de la collectivité (SADC) of Lac-Mégantic.
    • To date, more than $7 million has been approved.
  • Committing up to $95 million towards the decontamination efforts in Lac-Mégantic.
  • Providing $1.5 million to help workers in Lac-Mégantic re-enter the workforce or keep their jobs at companies that are resuming their business activities.
  • Providing expert advice to first responders in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
  • Setting up mobile outreach services to provide access to Government of Canada programs and services, including Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security for the citizens of Lac-Mégantic.
  • Announcing special measures for Canadian citizens, as well as temporary and permanent residents affected by the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic. This included extending or restoring the status of temporary residents, including those in Canada to work, study or visit, and providing free replacements of destroyed documents, such as immigration and citizenship status papers, permanent residency cards and Canadian passports. These special measures were in place until October 5.
  • Contributing scientific advice, sampling, forensic analysis, and guidance to support the response efforts, such as identifying environmental protection priorities and providing weather forecasts twice daily for the Lac-Mégantic area.

Measures to strengthen the application of the polluter-pays principle:

  • Committing to enshrine the polluter-pay system into law. Canada’s liability and compensation regime for oil spills is based on the “polluter-pays” principle, which means that the polluter is always responsible for paying for the cost of an oil spill clean up, including third party damages. This means that if a ship causes a spill, its owner is liable for losses and damages under federal legislation.
  • Taking steps to ensure railway companies are able to bear the cost of their actions by requiring shippers and railways to carry additional insurance so they are held accountable.
  • Launching a consultation and review of the adequacy of insurance coverage for the issuance of certificates of fitness required by federal railways. The purpose of this review is to solicit input on possible improvements to the current regulatory framework, as prescribed in the Railway Third Party Liability Insurance Coverage Regulations, which fall within the Agency’s current authority and mandate.

Measures to increase rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods across Canada:

  • Investigating any instances of non-compliance with regulatory requirements under the Railway Safety Act and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act.
  • Inspecting all Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) rail lines in Quebec, using track assessment vehicles and a track geometry car supplied by the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. Some deficiencies were found and Transport Canada took immediate regulatory action.
  • Announcing an emergency directive pursuant to section 33 of the Railway Safety Act to all rail operators to further enhance the safety of existing railway operations and the security of railway transportation. A section 19 order was also issued, requiring railways to develop rules in this regard for the longer term. The emergency directive requires all rail operators to file their Special Instructions (a series of internal procedures specific to the operational requirements of each operator) regarding the application of hand brakes with Transport Canada.
  • Undertaking national consultations with municipalities to discuss rail safety in urban centres.
  • Issuing a protective direction (PD) requiring any person who imports or transports crude oil to conduct classification testing, as well as a second protective direction requiring rail companies to share information with municipalities, which will further support municipal emergency planners and first responders.
  • Approved new Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) that encompass more stringent operational safety requirements for railway companies – the revised CRORs were the outcome of an earlier Emergency Directive (ED) and Ministerial Order issued under the Railway Safety Act in late July 2013;
  • Accelerated Rail and TDG safety regulatory development regarding, for example, the grade crossings regulations, Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs), and Transportation Information regulations (i.e., data);
  • In November 2013, through the Transport Minister’s General Policy Advisory Council, industry was tasked to lead working groups on classification, emergency response and means of containment. The working groups provided reports which contain short term and longer term actions the Canadian government can take to enhance public safety.
  • Regulatory changes proposed on January 11, 2014, and published in Canada Gazette, Part II, on July 2, 2014, ensure that new DOT-111 tank cars must be built to new standards with enhanced safety requirements, including thicker steel requirements and top fitting and head shield protection;
  • Collaborated with the FCM’s National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group to discuss rail and TDG safety-related concerns like improving risk assessments, emergency planning and response capability, and increasing insurance requirements for railways and shippers;
  • Purchased a 6th Track Assessment Vehicle (TAV) and scheduled replacement of five others as their life-cycles end;
  • Engaged technical and industry experts to identify additional rail and TDG-safety measures regarding, for example, the testing and classification of crude oil, DOT-111 tank cars (i.e., means of containment), and ERAPs;
  • Took decisive action to address the TSB’s recommendations. The Minister directed Transport Canada to:
    • Remove the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from service;
    • Require DOT-111 tank cars that do not meet the standard published in January 2014 in Canada Gazette, Part I, or any other future standard, to be phased out within three years;
    • Require Emergency Response Assistance Plans for even a single tank car carrying crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and ethanol;
    • Create a task force that brings municipalities, first responders, railways and shippers together to strengthen emergency response capacity across the country; and
    • Require railway companies to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and implement other key operating practices.
  • Completed stakeholder consultations regarding a comprehensive review of the liability & compensation regime for rail and developed policy options for consideration (the subject of a complementary MC);
  • Issued PD No. 33 under the TDG Act requiring Emergency Response Assistance Plans for crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and ethanol;
  • Issued PD No. 34 under the TDG Act removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from dangerous goods service;
  • Worked closely with US railway and TDG counterparts (e.g., US Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) to identify and coordinate further safety improvements in support of the integrated North American rail system; and
  • Asked the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to review safety management systems for railways and the TDG program -- the study is underway and is scheduled for completion in December 2014.
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