OTTAWA — The Honourable Rob Merrifield, Minister of State
(Transport), today announced that the Government of Canada will
introduce legislation to improve railway safety in Canada.
“Our government recognizes the importance of a safe and secure
national rail transportation system, not only to communities across the
country but also to Canada’s economic well-being,” said
The proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act will
encourage rail companies to create and maintain a culture of safety and
penalize rule breakers by enabling the Government of Canada to:
||crack down on rule breakers with
tough new monetary penalties and increased judicial penalties;
||strengthen safety requirements for
||create whistleblower protection
for employees who raise safety concerns; and
||require each railway to have an
executive legally responsible for safety.
The Railway Safety Act, which came into force in 1989, gives
Transport Canada the responsibility to oversee railway safety in Canada.
In addition to strengthening Transport Canada’s regulatory oversight and
enforcement capacities, the proposed amendments are consistent with the
legislative frameworks of other transportation modes.
The new amendments will be backed by Canada’s Economic Action Plan,
which has committed $44 million over five years to enable the government
to pursue a robust national rail safety program based on detailed
inspections, safety management system audits and enforcement action in
cases of non-compliance.
THE RAILWAY SAFETY ACT
The Railway Safety Act was implemented in 1989. It sets the
regulatory framework for addressing rail safety, security and some of
the environmental impacts of rail operations in Canada. While the
Railway Safety Act was amended in 1999, the Canadian rail industry has
changed significantly. Rail operations have become increasingly complex,
and rail traffic is growing rapidly.
In February 2007, the Minister of Transport launched a full review of
the operation and efficiency of the Railway Safety Act through an
independent advisory panel. The findings indicated that the Railway
Safety Act is fundamentally sound and that there have been positive
efforts to improve rail safety, but more needs to be done. The advisory
panel’s final report of March 2008 included 56 recommendations for
improving rail safety, some of which require legislative changes to the
Railway Safety Act.
The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities also
studied rail safety and issued its own report in May 2008. It includes
14 additional recommendations, many building on the recommendations from
the Railway Safety Act review.
The Government of Canada agrees with the findings of both reports and is
implementing the recommendations and amending the Railway Safety Act to
further improve rail safety in Canada.
Transport Canada has established a framework to respond to both the
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and
Railway Safety Act review recommendations that do not involve
legislative amendments. This framework includes the Advisory Council on
Railway Safety, and the Transport Canada-industry-union steering
committee and working groups, which have developed action plans to
implement the recommendations.