Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Rail Safety and Accountability
Changes include minimum insurance requirements, levies for crude oil shippers, and enhanced oversight and information-sharing
February 20, 2015 – Ottawa, ON – Transport Canada
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today introduced legislation in the House of Commons that will enhance railway safety and make the rail industry and crude oil shippers more accountable to Canadians.
The new Safe and Accountable Rail Act proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act. Changes include a new liability and compensation regime for federally regulated railways, including minimum insurance requirements; a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers; increased information-sharing provisions; and stronger oversight powers for the Minister and Transport Canada inspectors.
The new liability and compensation regime will be consistent with those the Government has introduced for other modes of transport, such as marine tankers and oil pipelines. It is based on the “polluter pays” principle and makes railways and shippers responsible for the cost of accidents, protecting taxpayers and communities by ensuring that adequate resources are available for compensation if an accident were to occur.
Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act will broaden the powers of the Minister and inspectors to order railway companies and others to take specified measures or stop any activity deemed necessary for safe railway operations. The proposed amendments will also create new regulation-making powers requiring railway companies to share information with municipalities. These changes are part of the Government’s commitment to strengthen oversight and increase collaboration between communities and the rail industry, addressing issues raised in the Transportation Safety Board’s final report on the Lac-Megantic derailment as well as concerns of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The Minister also announced the new Railway Safety Management System (SMS) Regulations, 2015. SMS Regulations require companies to develop and implement a formal framework that integrates safety into their day-to-day operations. The new regulations will help address recommendations made in the November 2013 Auditor General’s report, and will reflect over 10 years of lessons learned in providing oversight of railway safety management systems. The new SMS Regulations will be published in Canada Gazette, Part II on February 25, 2015, and will come into effect on April 1, 2015.
- Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act provide the Minister with the authority to issue a Ministerial Order requiring a company to take corrective measures if it is believed to be implementing its SMS in a way that could compromise railway safety.
- Federal railway companies must obtain and maintain legislated minimum levels of insurance based on the type and volume of dangerous goods they carry. Minimum insurance levels will vary from $25 million for no or low quantities of dangerous goods up to a maximum of $1 billion for substantial quantities.
- Shippers of crude oil will be required to pay a levy per tonne of crude oil shipped to build up a supplementary fund to pay for damages exceeding a railway’s minimum insurance level if an accident involving crude oil occurs.
“The Government of Canada continues to make the safety and security of Canadians a top priority. This new legislation will improve railway safety and strengthen oversight while protecting taxpayers and making industry more accountable to communities.” – The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport.
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