Transport Canada serving Canadians
From Transport Canada
Transport Canada and its employees contribute to the safety and well-being of Canadians around the clock, whether it’s in the air, on the ground or on water. This is a regular series of articles on the services we deliver.
Concerned about your vehicle’s safety? Transport Canada can investigate your safety concerns
When something goes wrong with your car, you likely tell your mechanic or dealership, but you may also want to tell Transport Canada— and here’s why.
In early 2015, Transport Canada received a defect complaint from the owner of a Kia Soul. The owner complained about receiving burns from the heated driver’s seat. Transport Canada’s defect investigations team looked into it and verified there was a safety problem. The department then notified Kia, which in turn issued a defect notice and offered to correct the problem.
“Some defect investigations can be long and difficult. They include gathering and analyzing data as well as conducting tests to determine if a safety defect exists,” said Karine Sirois, Defect Investigator for Transport Canada. “In the case of the Kia Soul, we confirmed there was a problem and identified its root cause. If that owner hadn’t notified Transport Canada, it’s possible the defect could have gone unnoticed, and others injured.”
Transport Canada plays an important role in recalls. Last year, 662 recalls affected nearly 5.5 million vehicles, tires, and child car seats in Canada; 1.1 million of these were influenced directly by Transport Canada’s defect investigations team.
Transport Canada also plays a role in getting the word out about recalls. While manufacturers are responsible for notifying owners of safety defects affecting their products, we spread the word by posting recalls online. This year alone, Transport Canada has posted 84 recalls and vehicle safety messages on Facebook and Twitter. Re-tweeting these messages has reached nearly 3.5 million accounts!
The department also maintains the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database, where Canadians can see if any recalls affect their vehicles. The detailed database goes back to 1975, and covers many makes and models.
While Transport Canada is responsible for regulating the safety of new vehicles, child seats, and tires, it is the owners’ responsibility to act on a recall and have the repair work done.
“If there is a recall on something you own, get the recall work done as soon as possible,” says Louis-Philippe Lussier, Chief of Defects Investigations and Recalls at Transport Canada. “Never ignore a recall notice. We often see cases where someone has a safety scare because they didn’t bring their car to the dealership to get the recall work done.”
We recommend checking the Transport Canada Defect Investigations and Recalls web page to see what recalls might affect your vehicle, tires or child car seats. Anyone who experiences a vehicle safety issue should tell Transport Canada.
“No one likes having a safety issue with something they own. If you tell us your story, it could help others from experiencing that same problem,” says Mr. Lussier. “Recalls prevent injuries and save lives, so if you’ve experienced something you think may be unsafe, let us know so we can investigate it.”
To report a safety defect to Transport Canada, you may fill in our online defect complaint form, or speak with a defect investigator by calling 1-800-333-0510.
Transport Canada helps Ukraine establish maritime administration
Canada’s newest export to Ukraine is its maritime expertise.
Since Canada is a leader in developing and applying many marine conventions, protocols and policies, Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure sought Canada’s help to reform its civilian maritime sector.
Transport Canada chose Toni Becherrawi, a senior marine inspector with the department, to help the Ukrainian government accomplish two objectives: develop a maritime administration that meets international standards and prepare its administration for the mandatory audit by the International Maritime Organization. This United Nations organization sets out international maritime standards and governs the maritime sector globally.
Ukraine’s new maritime administration is modelled after Canada’s – one with high standards designed to provide the country with a safe and efficient marine transportation system worthy of public confidence.
Mr. Becherrawi made his first 10-day trip to Ukraine last year to observe the maritime sector. He reported on the state of Ukraine’s civilian maritime sector, including an outline of what he believed the Ukrainian government needed to do to elevate its marine standards. He also offered possible solutions to many of the challenges Ukraine faced.
“It is a tremendously huge and great challenge,” he said.
His roadmap received a positive response. Mr. Becherrawi offered the Ukraine government a solution to most of the challenges they faced with the marine administration. But to Mr. Becherrawi, he was just doing his job.
“It was exciting. I was not expecting that,” Mr. Becherrawi said. “It made me proud. I was able to fly our flag a little bit higher. It was really, really exciting.”
In addition to the roadmap, Mr. Becherrawi also helped establish a project management system that included a team on the ground. He helped develop an action plan and will advise Ukraine on the implementation of the International Maritime Organization mandatory instruments.
It is expected that the newly established management system will help Ukraine during its first mandatory International Maritime Organization audit next year.
Ukrainian government officials and Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine signed a formal partnership agreement in July to further advance Mr. Becherrawi’s work. The occasion marked a significant milestone in Canada’s partnership with Ukraine.
“We always like to show that kind face,” Mr. Becherrawi said. “We are willing to help.”
Mr. Becherrawi, who is working on his PhD in marine emissions, joined Transport Canada as marine inspector in 2009. Before this, he had a 17-year career in Germany working as a seafarer, a marine engineer, surveyor and a technical superintendent managing a fleet of ships.
Meet the Transport Canada Inspectors: Ensuring dangerous goods move safely in Atlantic Canada
One by one, trucks rumble up to the weigh scales in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It is the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance truck blitz at the Nova Scotia — New Brunswick border. This event allows federal and provincial partners to get up close and personal with drivers and their rigs.
Provincial commercial vehicle enforcement officers, with help from inspectors Wally Chivers and Cluny Nichols of Transport Canada’s Atlantic Region Transportation of Dangerous Goods team, will thoroughly inspect trucks carrying “dangerous goods”.
“We are looking at all aspects of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (Regulations). This includes making sure shippers have properly identified, contained and shipped their dangerous goods; and drivers can prove they are properly trained,” said Wally Chivers, a 26-year veteran of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods team. “We are checking for compliance with the Regulations in those areas. More than that, though, it is a great opportunity to meet and develop relationships with drivers and the companies they represent. We have noted that the better those relationships are, the safer the loads will be.”
According to the Regulations, trucks carrying dangerous goods must be clearly marked with signs that identify the specific products they carry. Drivers must have verifiable training certificates to transport dangerous goods. Products must be shipped in containers that meet specific safety standards.
“Matching documentation to loads and training requirements, and checking means of containment is important,” said Cluny Nichols. “But so is talking to the driver and hearing where they’re coming from, where they’re going, the types of products they’re carrying, and how their day is going.”
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance safety blitz is also a great opportunity for federal and provincial partner departments to get a better idea of how their respective teams function. Colleagues from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, representatives from several Nova Scotia government departments, and safety officers from transportation and hazardous response companies work side by side at the scales, conducting compliance inspections and monitoring the safe movement of all types of goods during this particular event.
While inspectors take enforcement action as required, they agree their most important role is educating and working with industry to help drivers understand how Transport Canada’s standards and regulations keep Canada’s roads safer. Wally has been to dangerous goods spill sites over the course of his career, and says his team’s efforts in promoting the importance of complying with the Regulations — with a focus on safety and preventing accidents — has made a positive impact on the transportation of dangerous goods.
Sept-Îles Lake: A pilot project for safer, more environmentally-friendly recreational boating
Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety is responsible for the regulatory framework governing recreational boating. The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is a key activity for the Office of Boating Safety that promotes and increases awareness among boaters of boating safety and safety issues in the context of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is provided free of charge and is very popular with recreational boaters and participating municipalities. The Program is offered in partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat Service and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, which covers the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers.
Statistical analysis of boating incidents in recent years shows a greater vulnerability on inland waterways compared to bigger waterways, such as the St. Lawrence River. Because of this, the team at the Office of Boating Safety, in Transport Canada’s Quebec Region, under the direction of Sophie Noël, felt there was a need to expand their partnerships in order to extend the Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program to inland waterways.
Following significant engagement and consultation with select municipalities in the Greater Quebec City area, the municipalities of Saint-Raymond (Sept-Îles Lake); Fossambault-sur-le-Lac; Lac Saint-Joseph; and Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier —with the participation of the Jacques-Cartier regional county municipality (Lake Saint-Joseph) — agreed to work with Transport Canada to offer the Program in their areas. The Canadian Red Cross also decided to incorporate the Program into its regular activities related to waterways in the Mauricie and Lac-Saint-Jean regions.
Transport Canada-trained students to carry out boater awareness activities, which include performing courtesy inspections, explaining the regulatory requirements relative to boating safety, and providing information on specific characteristics of the waterways that recreational boaters use or plan to use. The students also promote the importance and utility of nautical charts, and answer boaters’ questions.
In 2016, more than 2,000 boats were inspected in the Quebec Region and Transport Canada student inspectors met with between 5,000 and 6,000 recreational boaters. These numbers are expected to increase in 2017 as a result of various new initiatives implemented this year.
The Office of Boating Safety, Quebec Region, is pleased to have new partners who, like Transport Canada, are committed to continually improving safety and protecting lives, health, property and the marine environment through education and increased awareness.
Fighting fire with fire
It’s a cold February day near Quebec City as firefighters are hard at work battling a blaze, and Transport Canada is on the job. Orange flames leap into the air around a black rail tanker car as grim first responders point their hoses at the fire.
But, this isn’t a scene from a disaster movie, it’s real-life training organized by Transport Canada for firefighters who may one day have to deal with a real accident in their hometowns.
Rail incidents involving flammable liquids can deteriorate quickly. An effective response needs an entire team of highly-trained first responders and experts. That’s why TC helped organize two full-scale training exercises to help firefighters get the best preparation for the worst situations.
The first one, sporting the fiery code name “Vulcan”, took place last year in British Columbia. The second, “Athéna”, was held at the Institut maritime du Québec in Lévis in February 2017, and involved fire departments from small communities around the area.
To design and deliver the training, specialists from CANUTEC, Transport Canada’s Transport Emergency Centre, and from the department’s Emergency Response Assistance Plan program, worked with experts from the rail and petroleum industry and other related fields.
CANUTEC is a national advisory service that offers 24/7 advice and support to responders handling dangerous goods emergencies. The centre is staffed by scientists specializing in chemistry or related fields and trained in emergency response. Every year, CANUTEC deals with approximately 1,000 emergency situations and handles over 25,000 telephone calls.
Vulcan and Athéna included online training, classroom activities, practical scenarios and field simulations. Participants learned about the risks involved with flammable liquids, potential physical hazards on a derailment site, and what steps to follow when they are called to an incident. They were also taught about industry best practices and the different tactics and strategies they can use.
A key component was promoting teamwork and making sure everyone understood their role. When this many players are involved, coordination is a must for timely, safe incident resolution.
For Vulcan, a derailment site was available. With Athéna, organizers had to innovate. A virtual prototype was developed to simulate a derailment involving flammable liquids. The prototype provided a complete, realistic view of a site, including smoke and fire. An outdoor prop at the Institut was also modified to deliver a more realistic experience.
Participants’ knowledge was tested before and after the exercise. Feedback will be essential for determining how helpful and effective the exercise was. The eventual goal is to develop a national training program for first responders.
Just like putting out a fire, success wouldn’t be possible without partnership and teamwork. Transport Canada worked closely with Defence Research and Development Canada, and is grateful to the following organizations for providing staff or equipment for Exercise Athéna:
- Canadian Pacific
- Canadian National
- École nationale des pompiers du Québec
- Emergency Response Assistance Canada (ERAC)
- Genesee & Wyoming (G&W)
- Institut maritime du Québec (French only)
- International Safety Research
- Railway Association of Canada
- Suncor Energy
- Williams Fire and Hazard Control
Transport Canada is on duty 24 hours a day, making a real contribution and difference in the lives of Canadians.
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