Minister-led Roundtable: Safer Transportation - Summary of Discussion

July 12, 2016, 9:30AM to 11:30AM | Halifax, NS

Summary of Discussion

The meeting was conducted under 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.”

Notes on Roundtable Discussion:

The Safer Transportation Roundtable was intended to seek stakeholder perspectives on opportunities in the regulatory framework, including service and fee models, risk-based approaches, adaptability to new technologies and innovation, as well as opportunities to eliminate unnecessary differences in modal oversight regimes.

Highlights of participants’ comments follow below, grouped according to four questions that were shared with participants ahead of the meeting.

  1. How could the regulatory framework and the resulting safety & security programs be improved to foster a transportation system that is more nimble and able to adapt to new risks and emerging technology?
    • Memoranda of understanding were proposed as a more flexible means to achieve safety outcomes. Other stakeholders felt that such approaches should be backed up with regulation to ensure equal treatment across modes.
    • The unique rule-setting process under the Railway Safety Act was offered as an example of a smart, flexible approach to regulation. Other perspectives suggested that this approach provided inadequate opportunity for all stakeholders to provide input, a step that is mandated under the traditional Canada Gazette-based regulatory process.
    • There is a link between the economic viability of the sector and enhanced safety. Profitable operators are able to invest in safety.
    • One option to both support evidence-based decision-making and to speed up decision-making on regulatory issues would be the increased use of risk assessments. Risk-based approaches, as opposed to prescriptive regulatory approaches, would help create a more responsive system.
    • Risk assessment can’t be done in isolation, however. It needs to involve stakeholders.
    • Safety Management Systems provide an additional layer of safety that has helped improve safety cultures in some organizations; however it works better in some organizations and transportation modes than in others.
    • Given the size differences in various transportation operations in Canada, one-size-fits-all regulatory frameworks do not work.
    • It was felt that there was a need for federal regulation of after-market parts for certain ground vehicles.
    • Drug and alcohol use is an emerging concern for many modes, but controls have already been in place for some time in the aviation sector. If marijuana use is legalized, there must be mechanisms to ensure continued safety in the transportation sector.
    • While significant progress has been seen on the safe transportation of dangerous goods, the training and certification of first responders, particularly fire services, is an area requiring continued attention. The demands of the job are resulting in recruitment and retention challenges, particularly in volunteer fire services. Federal support to municipalities to facilitate access to appropriate training and accreditation programs was proposed, perhaps through a few designated firefighting schools in Canada.
  2. What can be the role of government, industry, users and others in moving to a more nimble approach? How can we anticipate innovation better?
    • Disruptive technologies challenge regulatory frameworks. Greater collaboration between departmental officials and industry experts could enhance Transport Canada’s ability to keep up with the pace of innovation.
    • The persistence of silos, both across modal organizations within Transport Canada, as well as across Departments has been an obstacle to the efficiency of Transport Canada. More pragmatic collaboration is required, regardless of mandates.
    • The financial challenges experienced by Transport Canada pose a reputational risk to the Department and have affected the Department’s ability to maintain technical expertise and meet stakeholder expectations, particularly in areas such as regulatory change.
    • Transport Canada’s expertise and capacity in the area of aircraft certification is a critical element for Canada’s aerospace industry and needs to be protected.
    • Eroding technical expertise is hampering the ability of departmental officials to keep up with technological innovation in different transportation modes. This poses challenges with respect to evolving regulatory frameworks.
    • Budgetary challenges were also seen to threaten the ability of Transport Canada to engage stakeholders in key forums and to engage foreign countries, for example, in the development of bilateral airworthiness agreements.
    • The taxes and fees charged to the transportation industry, in particular the air industry, limit its ability to innovate.
    • There are opportunities to exploit data to deliver benefits that have not yet been explored. For example, collated data from vehicles can be used to help decrease accidents, improve commercial efficiencies and increase productivity. Other innovations in ground transportation may be able to measure operator fatigue based on eye movements.
    • We need to address how we will use such data in the future. More discussion is needed on the regulatory framework and guidelines under which they could be used.
  3. How can we foster harmonization of laws and regulations between provinces/territories/internationally in the “supply chain”?
    • Transport Canada needs to be more proactive and a leader in harmonizing global standards, particularly around safety policies and risk management and assessment.
    • There have been some notable achievements around regulatory harmonization, for example tank car standards, and there is a need to continue to strive for regulatory harmonization in all modes, within Canada, within North America, and internationally. It was also mentioned that regulatory cooperation should not be constrained to the United States and that regulatory cooperation was built into the Canada-EU CETA, for instance, allowing the opportunity for Canada to actually increase safety by taking a more flexible posture (permissive options, e.g. advanced lighting) where Canada is constrained from moving forward because of being too tightly bound to the U.S. when it could be a leader in North America with no consequence to North American regulatory alignment.
    • There was support for greater consultation with industry ahead of Canadian delegation participation in international organizations that govern transportation standards. Similarly, greater collaboration with provinces and territories and their regulatory agencies was urged, particularly around some emerging technologies, such as automated vehicles.
    • There are opportunities in the recreational boating sector for enhanced regulatory harmonization with the U.S. on life jacket standards and recreational boat construction standards.
    • Transport Canada and the federal government should occupy the regulatory space for new technologies, including automated vehicles. Greater collaboration across federal, provincial and territorial governments is needed to avoid or, in some cases, resolve a patchwork of regulatory requirements.
    • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging risk to aviation safety. Managing this risk requires a horizontal approach, involving several departments, including Justice Canada, Transport Canada (the lead) and Public Safety, as well as oversight and strong enforcement of regulations and public safety laws. The ongoing threat posed by laser pointers requires a similar approach.
    • Cyber security remains a concern for transportation safety. It needs to be addressed through harmonized frameworks at the domestic, Northern American and international levels.
    • There is ongoing work within ICAO to improve the standards and processes for the transportation of dangerous goods by aircraft. The ban on transport of lithium batteries (as cargo) in passenger carrying aircraft is one example of this work.
  4. Do we have the right mechanisms for collaboration? How can we work with you better?
    • The Regulatory Cooperation Council has had a positive impact and Transport Canada should continue to use and support it.
    • Industry has undertaken a number of voluntary collaborative processes to enhance safety outside the regulatory framework. Examples involving the rail sector include the Rail Proximity Guidelines developed with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Operation Lifesaver, and the Safety Culture Survey, which helps identify improvements needed to cultivate a robust safety culture. Examples in the chemical and first response sectors include the Responsible Care® and TRANSCAER® programs, respectively. Governments need to encourage these kinds of programs as they support common safety objectives.
    • There was support for greater consultation with industry ahead of Canadian delegation participation at international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.
    • The Transportation of Dangerous Goods directorate’s Emergency Response Task Force should be a model for other modes of integrating different sectors to achieve a common objective.
    • The Government’s focus on consultations, including the Roundtables, was seen as positive, as it generates further working groups and collaboration.
    • The establishment of a high-level transportation advisory council was suggested as another opportunity to generate greater collaboration.
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