MP REPORT: Protecting Canada’s waters

Colin Mayes touches on federal policies surrounding major waterways

Canada’s waters are some of our most important natural resources which is why Canada’s government pursues continuous improvements to our world-class tanker safety system.

This process is based on systems and regulations preventing spills, preparations and resources if a spill unfortunately happens and ensuring that if a clean-up response occurs that the cost of this is not placed on taxpayers.

Eighty per centof global oil transport is carried by tanker ships and this brings both efficiencies and risks that need to be managed as Canada’s role as a supplier of global energy grows.

This is why Canada has a robust, multi-layered regime built on the “polluter-pays” principle and spans industry, all levels of government and stakeholders. Stakeholder partners include the Canadian Coast Guard who provide surveillance and facilitate safe navigation and responses to spills.

Another stakeholder, certified response organizations, provides primary marine pollution responses funded by the shipping industry, not Canadian taxpayers.

In 2013, Transport Canada’s Tanker Safety Panel Secretariat (TSPS) published part one of a report examining Canada’s ability to prevent and, if necessary, respond to an oil spill caused by a ship. In drafting this report, TSPS consulted with stakeholders and regulators from around the world to determine what best practices have been proven to be effective.

In May 2014, the government responded to this report by announcing new actions such as: modernizing Canada’s marine navigation system; supporting leading-edge scientific research on petroleum products and a range of response measures; piloting area response planning in four prioritized areas across Canada; and strengthening the polluter pay regime by introducing legislative amendments to make an unlimited amount of compensation available from Canada’s domestic ship-source compensation fund.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is also involved in spill responses as they provide science-based advice on how to contain and disperse a spill.

Since 2006, the government has supported DFO with $49 million for its scientific research examining oil spill behaviour, effects and mitigation measures including response planning and modernized navigation and communication supports.

Our government understands the value of Canadian waters and remains committed to investing in the science, equipment and expertise needed to ensure shipping in Canada’s waters is safe and sustainable.

The TSPS report can viewed at www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tankersafetyexpertpanel/menu.htm.