Government of Canada introduces legislation to strengthen rail safety and accountability

Greater oversight authorities for Minister and Transport Canada inspectors

To further address issues raised by the Lac-Mégantic derailment and to respond to recommendations in the Auditor General of Canada’s fall 2013 report, the Government is proposing amendments to the Railway Safety Act to strengthen oversight, with a focus on communities, accountability, safety management systems and authorities.

Amendments will:

  • Give the Minister the power to order corrective measures if she or he believes a company is applying its safety management system in a way that compromises railway safety. This new authority would encourage companies to more effectively manage the risks that exist in railway operations.
  • Strengthen the Minister’s authority to give orders to take corrective action. The Railway Safety Act currently allows the Minister to order railway companies to take corrective actions in the case of an immediate threat to safety. Under the new legislation, the Minister could order any responsible party to take specified corrective action or to stop any activity in the interests of safe railway operations.
  • Allow Transport Canada inspectors to issue Notices as well as Notices and Orders to any person responsible for creating a threat to the safety or security of railway operations, as well as in the case of an immediate threat, to order measures to mitigate the threat.

Other changes include:

  • New regulation-making powers that can require companies to share information on railway operation safety with municipalities. This reflects the Government’s efforts to increase collaboration between communities and the rail industry, and addresses the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ recommendations.
  • Amendments that will allow the Canadian Transport Agency to order a railway company to reimburse a province or municipality for costs incurred while responding to an incident demonstrated to have been caused by the company’s operations.

February 2015

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