Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 2 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 25, 1997
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was
referred Bill S-2, to amend the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation
and Safety Board Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, met
this day at 4:20 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Lise Bacon (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Senators, I wish to welcome Mr. Bob Ballantyne, President of the
Railway Association of Canada.
Mr. Bob Ballantyne, President, Railway Association of Canada: We appreciate the
opportunity to make the views of the Railway Association of Canada on Bill S-2
known to the Senate committee. The RAC is the trade association of the railway
industry. Its membership now numbers 41 railway companies. Our membership is
continuously growing. Six new railway companies have been formed which have not
yet joined the association, but we expect them to join in the next few months.
The RAC is the focus for the industry's collaborative efforts to ensure that all
railways in Canada, whether federally or provincially regulated, follow
industry-approved safety procedures and practices. On safety issues, the RAC
maintains close liaison with the Transportation Safety Board, Transport Canada,
both the Railway Safety Directorate and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods
Directorate thereof, and also with the appropriate provincial agencies with
regard to those railways that fall under provincial regulation.
The Transportation Safety Board usually makes its recommendations to the
Minister of Transport, but on several occasions it has made recommendations
directly to the RAC.
Canada's railways have conducted thorough and professional internal
investigation of accidents and have always cooperated with those government
agencies that have had responsibility for investigating rail accidents on
behalf of the public interest. We continue a high degree of cooperation with
the TSB. As part of this program of cooperation, we arrange for site visits for
TSB board members and staff, we meet on a semi-annual basis to discuss issues
of mutual concern with TSB staff, and we also meet with TSB people on an ad hoc
basis related to specific accidents and incidents.
It is in the public interest and in the interests of the carriers that accidents
and incidents be investigated with a view to improving railway safety. It is
also in the public interest and the interests of the carriers that accidents be
investigated by an agency that is independent of either the carriers or the
government departments responsible for regulatory oversight. The TSB fills such
a role and does so with skill and professionalism.
We do not always agree with the findings of the board. In this regard, the
railway companies are forceful in presenting their views where there are
disagreements with TSB conclusions. However, the independence of the TSB is
central to its role and its success.
In this submission we will limit our comments to those issues that relate to the
railway industry. We will comment specifically on clause 4(2) related to full-
and part-time board members, clause 8 which repeals the provisions for a board
quorum, clause 11 related to the authorization of the board to enter into
agreements with the provinces, and clause 15(3) related to the protection of
representations made to the board.
Our main comments will, however, relate to the omission of any role for the TSB
related to interprovincial and cross-border commercial highway transport, which
includes both trucks and buses.
Dealing first with clause 4(2) and clause 8, the RAC has no concern about
whether board members are employed on a full- or part-time basis. It is
important that board members be available to carry out their duties on a timely
basis. If that can be done by part-time members, this would appear to be
cost-effective approach to the review and publication of TSB reports. Whether
full or part time, it is our view that board members are crucial to the success
of the TSB. It is important that they be independent of TSB staff when it comes
to reviewing the findings and developing recommendations; that they maintain a
high degree of objectivity; and that they be appointed based solely on their
knowledge of, and expertise in, the transportation industry.
Clauses 4(2) and 8 do not make it clear how the board will carry out its
functions. It appears that the chairman or any other individual board member
could solely carry out board functions. It is our view that it would be
preferable to retain section 12(2) of the act, which requires a board quorum of
three members, so that the final authorization of TSB reports and
recommendations is not left to the judgment of only one person. In summary, the
RAC has no objection to clause 4(2) of Bill S-2 but recommends that clause 8 of
the bill be deleted.
I will now turn to clause 11 of the bill, which deals with agreements with
provinces. Transportation operates interprovincially and internationally on an
integrated basis and it is important that there be consistent treatment across
political jurisdictions. We have, in the past, encouraged provincial agencies
to enter into agreements with the appropriate federal agencies and to adopt
federal statutes and regulations. The amendment made by clause 11 will
facilitate agreements between the TSB and the provinces with regard to rail,
air, marine and pipeline modes. In summary, the RAC supports this amendment as
far as it goes.
Clause 15(3) deals with protection of representations. It is fundamental to the
TSB mandate that they uncover all possible facts and all relevant information
in the course of an investigation. Only in so doing will they be able to
prevent recurrences and, thus, improve transportation safety. The amendment
proposed in clause 15(3) will afford greater protection to individuals and will
thus encourage people to be more forthcoming with the facts.
The proposed new section 24(4.4), as proposed in clause 15(3) of Bill S-2, would
limit the ability of railway companies to use these privileged representations
in normal company disciplinary proceedings. While in most situations statements
would be taken by company officers before any employee subject to discipline
had made a privileged representation, there may be instances where such
information would come to the company's attention only when representation was
made to the board. It is the view of the railways that they should have access
to such information for disciplinary action. In summary, the RAC supports this
amendment but recommends that the word "disciplinary" be removed from
the proposed section 24(4.4).
The main portion of my submission relates to issues concerning commercial
highway transport. From a railway perspective, there are two issues of concern
here: one is public safety; the other is modal equity. The federal government
is responsible for all interprovincial and international transportation under
our Constitution. This responsibility with respect to commercial highway
transport was delegated to the provinces at a time when most trucking was local
in nature and before the great post-war highway construction programs. The
conditions at the time of the federal delegation no longer exist, and in some
areas -- certainly safety -- it is time for the Parliament of Canada to take
back the responsibility.
With deregulation in recent years, trucking has become more continental in
nature and rigs of the large Canadian and U.S. truckers are now seen all over
the continent. In addition, ease of entry and exit means that there are a large
number of owner/operators in this business, many of whom have neither the
knowledge nor the resources to maintain their vehicles to an appropriate level
To give some idea of growth compared to the railway situation, consider that
railway freight traffic was at an all-time high in 1996, yet rail's share of
rate revenue has declined from over 80 per cent in 1955 to under 40 per cent in
1995. While our traffic has grown, the trucking traffic has grown at a
substantially higher rate.
With respect to truck safety, we will focus only on those issues that relate to
TSB activities and whether that board should have a role in investigating
highway transport occurrences.
To give you some idea of the problem, I will introduce a few statistics. In
1995, 3.5 million commercial vehicles were registered in Canada. These include
not only big trucks but also small trucks and buses. In recent safety blitzes
in Ontario, approximately one in three tractor trailer trucks stopped under
safety blitzes were found to have a serious safety defect. Such unsafe
performance in the other modes of transport would never be tolerated by the
According to Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways, CRASH, there were 578
fatalities in Canada involving big trucks and approximately 12,000 injuries,
from a total of 3,347 road fatalities and 241,800 injuries.
To put that into perspective, the table that is contained in our brief shows
that the total number of fatalities in Canada as a result of big truck
accidents was twice the number of fatalities of all other modes of transport
combined. If you look at the number of injuries, 265 to 12,000, they are not
even in the same ballpark. Approximately 117 of the 120 fatalities associated
with railways were road-rail crossing accidents and trespasser accidents.
Twice as many Canadians were killed in big truck accident in 1995 as in all
other modes combined. These statistics show that in terms of public safety,
society's resources are not being appropriately allocated to where improvement
is most needed. Those modes where movement is centrally controlled and where
public access is largely limited are subject to safety regulation and TSB
investigation but the mode that shares public thoroughfares is not.
The rail and aviation modes are, by regulation, required to have in their
vehicles black boxes that monitor vehicle performance and handling
characteristics. By law, the TSB has access to the data contained in these
event recorders. There is no comparable requirement for big trucks. Public
safety in Canada requires that the TSB mandate be expanded to include
interprovincial and international commercial highway transport. In terms of
modal equity, this has both safety and economic consequences, and they are
There are a number of issues that tilt the playing field in favour of the
highway carriers. One of these is the oversight of safety and investigation of
accidents and incidents. Canadian railways are among the safest in the world
and are subject to substantial safety regulation and investigation. The
comparable oversight of trucking varies from province to province and
enforcement is neither rigorous nor consistent. Anyone who has shared the
highways with big trucks has firsthand experience that their drivers do not
comply with highway speed limits. Clearly, the risk of being caught and the
severity of the penalty are no deterrent to the truckers' chronic disregard of
In the rail mode, trains are equipped with black boxes. These black boxes house
recorders that keep track of speeds, as well as other vehicle handling
activity. That data is available. Because safety oversight is so lax in the
highway mode, this has an influence on the relative costs of the two modes.
Artificial cost advantages of the trucking mode are factors in diverting freight
from rail to road.
Truck transport is important to Canada and has a place in the transportation
spectrum. But is society well served by diverting substantial amounts of
freight, including dangerous commodities, from rail to truck? Is society well
served when the TSB has no mandate to investigate accidents in the mode that
kills more people than all others combined? Is society well served when traffic
is diverted to a mode which contributes so much to fuel consumption, air
pollution and road congestion?
In summary, the railway industry supports Bill S-2 as far as it goes; but it is
our view that there is a major gap in the role of the TSB in that
interprovincial and international commercial highway transport is not included.
We do not underestimate the difficulties in expanding the TSB mandate. It is
our understanding that this is within the constitutional authority of Canada but
we realize that it would require discussion and the cooperation of the
provinces. It is also evident that the TSB would require an increase in
resources to undertake this responsibility. Nevertheless, we think that these
are insufficient reasons to delay making changes to the TSB mandate.
Bill S-2 contains revisions allowing the TSB to enter into agreements with the
provinces related to rail, aviation, marine and pipeline. These revisions
provide for appropriate financial arrangements between the provinces and the
TSB. Perhaps this could provide a model for negotiating an agreement with the
provinces for commercial highway transport.
The RAC strongly recommends, in the interest of public safety and modal equity,
that Bill S-2 be amended to include interprovincial and international
commercial highway transport in the TSB mandate.
I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have at this time.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Senator Forrestall: First, I wish to thank you for a thoughtful presentation. It
is very helpful to us.
Could we start with your very bland statement, which surprised me a bit, namely,
that the RAC has no concern whether or not board members are employed on either
a full- or a part-time basis? It would be important that they are available to
carry out their duties on a timely basis.
I have a concern that going from full- to part-time members is taking us away
from a capacity to deal with the responsibilities that this board will have
somewhere down the road. The term "part-time members" is a statement
that is a far cry from the level of participation that Canadians want from
their regulatory and investigative authorities in Canada.
You are going about this in a backward way to achieve something else. Could you
let us in on your thinking with respect to your conclusion that it does not
matter whether the members are full or part time?
Mr. Ballantyne: It is certainly important that the members have the right
qualifications and that they be available when they are required. Perhaps I am
not familiar enough with their day-to-day activities in terms of whether they
really need to be there day in, day out.
Over the past four or five years, some board members have resided in other parts
of the country. In fact, my understanding was that they were operating somewhat
on a part-time basis and that they came to Ottawa when required to deal with
the various reports and recommendations that were being put before the board by
the TSB staff.
Senator Forrestall: Are you familiar with the system in the United States?
Mr. Ballantyne: I am not familiar with the details of how the NTSB's board
members actually operate, but I know something about the NTSB.
Senator Forrestall: Of 2,600 air incidents, the Transportation Safety Board
looked at 100. If someone were to ask me how I would describe a board that
acted like that, I would not describe it as an investigative board or a
transportation safety board. It is at arm's length. It is an academic adventure
involving the findings of highly skilled technical and professional people out
in the field looking at the incidents presumably ordered by this board. It is
my belief that a member of the board should be a member of every investigating
team out in the field. I believe very strongly in that and some day we will
come to that finding.
Staying with what we have now, though, that depth is not possible with three or
four part-time members and only one full-time member. You cannot even begin to
investigate the accidents. All you are doing is reinforcing the academic view
that, given 17 different conditions, you are likely to have a disaster. Would
you comment on that view?
Mr. Ballantyne: There is obviously a philosophical underpinning which you bring
to your question regarding the role of the board members and their relationship
to the staff.
Most investigations of transportation accidents require a high degree of
technical knowledge to discover the facts of the accident. Skills are required
in engineering and physics and chemistry, as well as in other areas. It has
always been my understanding that the board members take the technical results
as described by the professional accident investigators and provide an
oversight, a broader view, taking into consideration other issues related to
the incident. However, the board members are not to be quite so focused on the
technical issues and on the technical causes of the accident.
If it is their role to provide that kind of dispassionate oversight, then there
is something to be said for keeping some separation between the board and the
professional accident investigators.
Senator Forrestall: Then you would not attach the same level of importance to
investigation; selective investigation perhaps, but not a general, broad
Mr. Ballantyne: Under the existing TSB legislation, the purpose of investigating
the accidents is not to find fault, not in any legal sense. Rather the purpose
of the investigation is to determine the cause of the incident so that future
safety can be enhanced and improved.
The board and the professional investigators will not necessarily investigate
every accident. They investigate accidents where it is judged that there are
some safety lessons to be learned.
It is our view that it is extremely important that all accidents be investigated
at some level. Whether that necessarily entails an investigation by the
independent accident investigator is another matter. Every accident is tragic
and every accident is important. For example, in a level-crossing accident,
there may not be much to be learned if it is determined that simple inattention
by the motorist caused the accident, but it is important that all accidents be
investigated as thoroughly as required. That does not necessarily require the
board members' involvement. That may be where we have a difference of opinion.
Senator Forrestall: Where does the public disposition come from if it is not
covered by the board? I have difficulty reconciling the two matters.
We have heard some pretty damning testimony with respect to the board and I
would like to correct it. I do not like to leave it standing. I am one of the
people who fought hard to separate the regulatory body from the investigative
I am pleased to see the thoughtfulness which has gone into your paper. I am
struck by your concern for interprovincial matters and the suggestion that
perhaps now is the time for Parliament to take another look at these matters in
concert with the transportation ministers and to nurture some areas where it is
impossible for the provinces, either independently or jointly, to act. I am
pleased to see that. Coming from your voice, this certainly carries weight.
The Railway Association of Canada is to be commended for their very high
standards of work, as we have seen in our subcommittee. They have achieved a
high degree of excellence in recent years.
Senator Roberge: Mr. Ballantyne, would you not feel more comfortable with having
dedicated, efficient, full-time members? It seems to me that part-time members
would have less hands-on experience and less dedication to the subject-matter.
Mr. Ballantyne: The more that people are involved, the more their experience
will grow. There is certainly something to be said for that. As their
experience grows, their judgment will be become better. To that extent, in
full-time work, their experience would grow that much faster.
We are more concerned about the qualifications of the appointed members than
whether they are full-time or part-time members.
Senator Roberge: If we are going to be making amendments to this bill, perhaps
we should make an amendment that we should have more full-time members than
part-time members, based on that response.
You have an interesting point about the quorum. It is important that a quorum
not be subject to one individual's judgment but be subjected to a group
Mr. Ballantyne: Yes.
Senator Roberge: That point is well taken.
You made some comments about encouraging the Transportation Safety Board to
enter into agreements with the provinces to investigate railway accidents. To
your knowledge, have there been any discussions or final agreements reached?
Mr. Ballantyne: Yes, there have. As far as I know, there is an agreement in
place between Ontario and the TSB. I am not absolutely certain, but there have
been discussions and I think they have reached the stage of agreement. The
Ontario legislature passed the Shortline Railway Act in 1995 which facilitated,
from a provincial point of view, entering into agreements between the provincial
agencies and Transport Canada for safety regulation and, also, to some extent,
with the Canadian Transportation Agency on the economic regulation matters.
There may also have been discussions with some of the other provinces as well,
but I am not sure exactly where they stand.
Senator Roberge: Madam Chairman, is it possible to get some information from the
ministry about those agreements or discussions?
The Chairman: Yes. We will follow up on that question.
Senator Poulin: Thank you very much for your excellent presentation and for
sending in your brief early enough so that we could read it before coming to
My question is a follow up to the question of Senator Forrestall. If I hear you
correctly, you are advocating a certain independence between the appointed
members and the public servants who form part of the staff of the board. Based
on your experience, could you give us an example of the process? When the
accident happens, what happens?
Mr. Ballantyne: As far as we are aware, the staff investigators will carry out
their investigation, they will complete their findings, and they will prepare a
draft report. Ken Johnson, the executive director, takes the draft report to
the board, and the board reviews it. The board then either sends it back to the
staff, or it makes amendments or ask for clarification.
When the board has agreed, they will send a copy of the draft report to the
principals who are involved in any accident, but without the recommendations,
to ensure that all factual information has been properly covered. In other
words, the draft report that is sent to the principals involved does not
contain any TSB recommendations. It may contain conclusions but no
recommendations. The report is then returned to the board, at which time they
will make their final conclusions. The board will either confirm the
recommendations or make some changes.
Senator Poulin: Is it traditional to have a meeting between the board members
and the principals, as you were indicating?
Mr. Ballantyne: That may happen in some instances. I cannot recall any instance
where a meeting has taken place between the principals and the board prior to
the board publishing a report, but it would seem to me that it would make sense
for there to be meetings to discuss the factual issues that have been set out
in the report in its draft phase.
Senator Poulin: We know that several federal agencies are looking the
possibility of having the choice of appointing either full-time or part-time
members. I was led to believe that the reason for this choice is simply to
widen the pool from which a government could choose specialists or experts. As
we know, a member who is chosen to sit as a full-time member must, for practical
purposes, move to Ottawa; whereas, part-time members can continue to reside in
their region of residence, travel back and forth.
Do you feel that this choice is benefiting the Canadian public in terms of
Canadian transportation, accident investigation and safety questions?
Mr. Ballantyne: If one must make a choice between whether a member is full time
or part time and getting the right kind of qualifications, it is better to have
part-time members with the right qualifications.
Again, among the first appointments to this board was Admiral Hugh MacNeil, the
former vice chief of the naval staff, who brought a marine perspective to the
job. Board members also included people with a background in aviation, the law,
and so on. In my opinion, the most important consideration is to have board
members with the right skills to do the job.
Senator Spivak: I am delighted that you brought up the issue of truck safety.
This is a grave problem, one that is besetting Canadians at this time. In the
west, where I come from, there has been a change in the grain hauling situation
as a result of removal of subsidies. Consequently, there are huge trucks
travelling on roads that were not built to accommodate such large tractor
The current situation is that, having taken away the subsidies for railways to
transport grain, the provincial authorities are asking for subsidies to improve
roads. This will not fix the situation at all.
What is your comment on the provincial ability to enforce whatever safety
regulations there are now? What is your comment as to what safety regulations
there are? What is your feeling as to the status of what is happening now in
these fragmented jurisdictions?
Mr. Ballantyne: Like any other traffic issue, it is left to the police forces to
investigate. Most police forces in Canada are stretched pretty thin and have a
hard time policing the heavy trucks.
Senator Spivak: Are there no provincial boards in any province?
Mr. Ballantyne: I am not aware of any specific provincial agencies comparable to
the TSB. Within some of the ministries of transport, there are agencies that
will stop trucks and investigate the physical characteristics of the truck.
I was mentioning the blitz in Ontario where not too long ago one truck in three
had a serious safety defect. Much of the time brakes are the problem.
Various jurisdictions do try to do what they can within the limits of their
resources. However, there are other issues. There is no requirement for trucks
to have any kind of an event recorder, as there is in both the rail and
aviation modes of transportation. In the event of an accident, such a device
would give an investigator some indication of the speed, gearing, and so on, of
the truck at the time of the accident.
The safety requirements for new highway vehicles are within the existing purview
of Transport Canada. In any discussions I have had with Transport Canada, they
seem to feel that event recorders are not directly a safety device, as are
brakes, for example. However, in my view, even recorders clearly have a role in
improvements in safety.
Senator Spivak: The federal government in your estimation, even though it is
delegated the responsibility, I presume, for implementation for safety
inspection, still has the authority to legislate. The federal government could
legislate that all trucks must have these recorders.
What capacity do you think this agency, as it is presently constituted or as it
is contemplated, has to extend its mandate and to do a proper job? It seems to
me that it is not just putting in place regulations; it is actually enforcing
them. That is the big deal. Would the provinces not still enforce them?
Mr. Ballantyne: There are two matters to be considered here. The first is
regulation or enforcement. For example, in the rail and aviation modes, it is
the role of Transport Canada to carry out enforcement. In the highway mode, it
is the role of the provincial authority, usually the police, to enforce highway
codes. The role of the transportation board is not to enforce regulation. The
role of the transportation board is to investigate accidents. Even if there
were no change in the regulation, if the TSB had a role in investigating only
accidents involving carriers involved in interprovincial or international
transport, then that would be a start. Presumably, they would then work into a
role with the provincial governments in investigating the accidents that
actually take place.
Senator Spivak: Can the province not ask the board to do that now? I think we
heard earlier that they can request the transportation board to investigate an
accident. That is not happening.
Mr. Ballantyne: The arrangements are in place for it to start to happen in rail,
aviation, marine and pipeline. I am not aware that it is in place for trucking.
If Mr. Johnson made that comment when he was here, I would certainly defer to
what he had to say.
Senator Spivak: How should this come about? Do you think it should be included
in this piece of legislation; or should it be a recommendation that there be
these sorts of arrangements in the same way that there are for marine? What is
your suggestion as to how this should be brought about? I suppose it is up to
the board to choose which accidents it investigates, but there are so many
horrendous ones there would not be a lack of choice.
Mr. Ballantyne: They would have a great deal of choice. My preference would be
to see it included in Bill S-2. This would be a requirement that the TSB would
have the authority to investigate accidents or incidents in the highway mode
regarding interprovincial or international commercial transport.
Senator Spivak: Is there a national trucking association which is comparable to
Mr. Ballantyne: They have restructured and it is now called the Canadian
Trucking Alliance. It used to be called the Canadian Trucking Association. It
is an alliance of the various provincial trucking associations.
Senator Spivak: What do you think their attitude would be to such an inclusion?
Mr. Ballantyne: There is no question in my mind that they would be against it.
Senator Spivak: It would not be very popular.
Mr. Ballantyne: The same would be true with regard to the issue that there be
event recorders in their vehicles. I am sure they would be against that, as
Senator Forrestall: As the bill is now written, it states that the board shall
make recommendations based on its findings. However, the board does not find
anything, it reviews. Someone else will find things. You suggested, and I
agreed with you, that there should be a separation between the members of the
board and the investigators. God knows that I am not one to allow any conflict
of interest to raise its head anywhere. You left me with the impression that,
in your mind, the investigators would be public servants and there was a
potential for conflict of interest. If that is the case, it is something I have
been struggling with, without even recognizing it, since the amendments first
came forward some time ago. That is a reasonable assessment, is it not?
Mr. Ballantyne: Yes.
Senator Forrestall: I do not know where in my own mind I will go from here. I am
unalterably opposed to the continuation. I see it now as a conflict of
interest. That is why I want to change it.
Should we be considering setting up something that is entirely at arm's length
and call upon them, or the present board, to make recommendations that
accidents be investigated under the following circumstances, thus separating
them entirely? We have the continuing problem of investigators writing reports,
only to have those reports sat on or rewritten. We have evidence that a report
was rewritten to such an extent that the author of the report, the individual
who did the accident investigation, did not recognize his own report. I am sure
you are familiar with that case. That is my concern.
I do not think we are going in the right direction. Much of what is in this bill
is super, and I am pleased to see it there. It should have been there in the
beginning. However, there are some other deficiencies.
Senator Poulin: Having chaired an agency in the past, I was under the impression
-- and perhaps Mr. Ballantyne can help me here -- that this is what we commonly
call enabling legislation. It is there for the board to function and to take on
the responsibility of making recommendations and validating reports that are
prepared by public servants who are simply the infrastructure of the board.
Where is the possibility of a conflict of interest, Mr. Ballantyne?
Mr. Ballantyne: It is not so much a conflict of interest on the part of the
public servants. In fact, Senator Forrestall made this point, and I probably
should have commented on it at that point. However, our feeling is that the
professional investigators investigate the accident based on their technical
expertise, the results of which they bring to the board. In effect, they report
up through the executive director who reports to the chairman. The chairman
also has these other three, four or five board members who are off to the side
and apart from his role as an administrator. It is one thing for the
investigators to do their work and to come to their conclusions on a technical
basis. However, if the board is not to bring some sort of broader judgment,
hopefully, based on expertise, to the role of the investigators, then why have
a board? If you are going to have just the investigators, then they can make a
report and report up through the executive director and that is it.
We feel that there is a role for the board, which is to bring some other
judgment to bear, that is outside the role of the investigators who are so
close to what it is they are investigating. After all, they are human. They
will be affected to some extend by what they see and what they perceive when
they do an accident investigation.
It is not so much conflict of interest as their judgment. As human beings, they
will certainly be affected by what they see.
Senator Poulin: I thought I heard you say in your previous statement that,
because of a certain autonomy between the board members and the staff, the
staff, who are very close to the investigation technically and who bring the
report to this group of sober second thought, can take that step back and
determine that is how, technically, an accident happened. How can we prevent
such an accident from happening? How can we make sure that appropriate
procedures are in place to prevent such an occurrence?
Mr. Ballantyne: I agree with that. Their role is to bring that judgment to bear.
My understanding is that the board spends a lot of its time on the
recommendations themselves. It is in a sense developing an answer to the
question: How can we prevent this from happening again? That is what they do.
Senator Forrestall: The potential for conflict is very obvious. There are only
two areas in Canada from where this adequate training and expertise can come,
either from the Canadian military or the industrial base itself. We are such a
small community that it is virtually impossible for anyone skilled in one of
these disciplines not to know. There cannot be anything wrong with it, except
that inherently it is wrong. It is up to us as legislators to remove that
potential for conflict of interest. However, this is a discussion we can have
at a later time.
Senator Roberge: In your view, what are the qualifications needed to be a good
Mr. Ballantyne: Board members need to be people who have had some experience in
the transportation industry or some branch of the transportation industry. The
main reason is so that they can bring some judgment to bear on the findings of
the investigators. Of course, you want people who you feel will be objective
and independent, and clearly people of good judgment.
Senator Roberge: I missed the last meeting, when Mr. Johnson attended, but I
find it very difficult to believe that in this area we cannot find anywhere in
Canada people who could come to Ottawa on a full-time basis with experience in
the transportation modes. That is far-fetched in my view.
Mr. Ballantyne: I do not know the answer to that, senator.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for your presentation and the answers to our
Our next witnesses are representatives from the Air Traffic Control Association,
Mr. Tony Rushton and Mr. Peter Barnacle.
Mr. Barnacle, Legal Counsel, Air Traffic Control Association: I wish to
apologize for not having our brief reach the members of the committee sooner.
Unfortunately, there were other claims on our resources, because we are in the
middle of collective bargaining with NAV CANADA, and have been for the last
number of weeks; so we did not have time to get everything together as quickly
as we would have liked. We also have the pleasure of beginning collective
bargaining with our former employer, too, the Treasury Board, since we have
about 30 members left in the public service, twelve of whom are active. So we
will be a very busy group for a while.
I am here on behalf of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association; my name is
Peter Barnacle, and I am their legal counsel. Mr. Rushton, who is vice
president on the technical side, and I would like to thank you for the
opportunity to present our brief. We are hopeful that we will have a good
opportunity today to exchange views on what we see as significant improvements
to the Transport Safety Board's powers and at the same time raise one
particular concern that the union has with certain amendments to section 29.
The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association represents approximately 2,300
civilian air traffic controllers, the bulk of whom are employed by NAV CANADA.
As I mentioned, only about 30 individuals remain in the employ of the public
service. NAV CANADA is the new not-for-profit entity charged with providing air
navigation services in this country. Our membership handles tens of thousands
of aircraft operations daily from seven area control centres, 41 control towers
and one terminal control unit, which happens to be located here in Ottawa.
Their area of responsibility extends from the North Pole to the Canada-U.S.
border and for more than 100 miles off the West Coast to midway across the
Senator Forrestall: How do you get from the North Atlantic to the West Coast?
Are you are going over the North Pole?
Mr. Barnacle: Yes, we go over the Pole.
The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, CATCA, was formed in 1959. It is
one of the incorporated unions in this country; we were incorporated in 1962.
Our mandate is threefold: To promote safety and efficiency in air traffic
control; to promote the conduct and welfare of our members; and to promote the
status of the air traffic control service. Each day our members make a
significant impact on the world-class operation of Canada's air navigation
In line with our mandate, we recognize the importance of the Canadian
Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board. It is imperative that
such a body have the power and resources -- and I wish to emphasize that this
will be a recurring theme of our submission -- to properly oversee the system
and provide policy makers with the crucial information required to maintain and
increase the level of safety expected by Canadians.
CATCA and its members have participated fully in all of the investigations
conducted into air traffic services by the Transport Safety Board and its
predecessor, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board. We have also been participants
in investigations conducted by other parties, such as the minister's task force
on aviation matters and the Dubin Inquiry.
Bill S-2 proposes changes aimed at increasing the emphasis on the identification
of safety deficiencies through Transport Safety Board investigations. We concur
wholeheartedly with any amendment that promotes safety, including increasing
the protection of "witnesses" who give information to investigators.
We believe it is appropriate to consider what has come to be known as "whistle-blower"
protection. Since the provider of Canada's air navigation service is now a
private company and not a government department, and in light of the comments
by the Auditor General in his 1997 report, individuals reporting alleged safety
deficiencies to the Transport Safety Board should be protected from
disciplinary action by the employer.
Our members are encouraged to utilize the board's confidential safety reporting
system. We are, however, concerned about the level of support given this type
of program. With the limited resources presently available to the Transport
Safety Board, it is easy for this type of program to become a data gathering
exercise only. Rather than seeing information used for prevention purposes, you
see detailed analyses of reports occurring only after a significant accident or
incident. For the Transport Safety Board to properly fulfil its mandate, it
must be adequately staffed and funded. While this concern is not directly
related to the issue before you, we believe it is worthy of your consideration.
At this point I will refer you to some of the special investigations which the
board or its predecessor have undertaken in the past, and of which we have been
very supportive. These were reports or special investigations with a proactive
or preventive theme; they did not arise from a specific accident but from a
pattern of incidents or concerns that had been raised and into which the board
conducted an investigation and made detailed recommendations.
For example, there is a 1987 report on a special investigation into the risk of
collisions involving aircraft on or near the ground. It is a fairly thick
document. As background, in 1985 the board had been gathering data with respect
to near collisions on or near the ground and, as a result, announced a public
inquiry in 1986. This report came out in 1987 and contained a long list of
recommendations for improving air safety, essentially dealing with collisions
on or near the ground, or what we often refer to as "runway incursions."
Another report of which we were very supportive was the report on the special
investigation into air traffic control services in Canada, which was published
in March 1990 by the predecessor board, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board.
That report arose as a result of the board's noting that there had been a
series of "losses of separation," as it is referred to, in air space
around Pearson airport in Toronto in late 1988.
There were 217 occurrences over a time period and the board determined that that
was a matter that justified some investigation, again without waiting for an
accident. Lengthy discussions and hearings were held and recommendations were
Our concern with reports of the Safety Board in the past has been that the
recommendations were not carried out in toto by Transport Canada. Some
recommendations would be implemented and some would not. We have just had
occasion to go through a nine-day hearing before an arbitrator with respect to
a brakes issue, which had to do with a recommendation of the safety board in
1990 that was not implemented by Transport Canada.
Our concern has always been with what happens to the recommendations, but we
have been supportive of this type of process of the board, and we are very
hopeful that the board will continue to be able to do that. However, in this
day and age, when government services are continually under attack, we are
concerned that this type of preventive investigation may become less frequent.
That goes along with our concerns about the confidential safety reporting
system, which is essentially a telephone or e-mail line that can be used to
raise concerns. We are concerned that those issues will go nowhere because of
the potential inability of the board to investigate them.
Bill S-2 introduces a civil penalty which can be levied against any person who "fails"
to provide information to an investigator, but the bill protects any
representations to the Transport Safety Board on confidential or draft reports
by persons who have a direct interest and are asked to review the report. We
are pleased that this bill gives the Transport Safety Board teeth to
investigate, but caution that the flip side to these added provisions must be
thoroughly examined to ensure that persons are not unduly penalized or coerced
because of their involvement in situations. That is a companion to the
whistle-blowing perspective from our employer.
CATCA's concern lies predominantly, however, with ensuring that all information
extracted from various sources remains protected. Section 28 of the current
legislation provides protection for the use of on-board recordings. Subsection
(1) defines those recordings, but it fails to include those used in air traffic
control. Controllers, in performing their duties, use a number of different
communication systems, each of which is recorded and can be used in Transport
Safety Board investigation.
As it now stands, section 28 of the act, dealing with on-board recordings,
refers to the cab type: the aircraft flight deck, the locomotive cab, or the
bridge or control room of a ship. The proposed amendments under section 28
would add a pipeline control centre or operations room and would also make some
modifications to subsection 28(2) to incorporate video recordings.
Our concern is that our air traffic control facilities, the towers as well as
the centres, also have what the previous witness referred to as "event
recorders", which continually monitor the communications of the facility.
They are not under the control of the individual air traffic controller. They
are permanent recording devices on all telephone land lines, on the radar scopes
and on the data information that is displayed in front of the controller, and
on all frequencies used by the control personnel with aircraft or other units.
As a result, there is a complete record of everything that occurs at that
position dealing with air traffic control through those various forms of
In the existing act, section 28 deals with the on-deck type of approach and
section 29 specifically refers to air traffic control communications as
communication records. Our concern is that, with the proposed deletion of
subsections 29(3), (4) and (5), which provide for limitations or restrictions on
the use of air traffic control records, a gap may be opened up in the
legislation which would result in less protection being provided to these types
of communications than was previously provided, particularly in the case of
land line or telephone related communications as opposed to broadcast or public
Recognizing that the drafters of the amendments have expanded section 28 to deal
with the operations type of centre, such as a pipeline operations room or
control centre, we propose that it would be appropriate to include aviation
control facilities as another group or centre within section 28(1). We would
propose that section 28(1)(a) be amended to include the following subsection:
(v) a control facility for aviation operations
That would require some consequential amendments, first, in section 28(1)(b) to
include an aviation facility, and then in the main body of the paragraph
underneath section 28(1)(b), where there is a reference to the various types of
locales, such as flight decks and pipeline control centres.
This amendment would ensure that internal air traffic control communications are
afforded the same treatment as other operations. That would also reduce any
concerns over the elimination of the specific protections set out in section
29(3), (4) and (5). The amendment to section 29, which covers air traffic
control communications, has the potential to reduce what protection is afforded
those communications unless they are incorporated into section 28.
Our association hopes to continue its long-standing relationship with the
Transportation Safety Board and with institutions that, like the Senate, deal
with proposed legislation that has potential to affect us all. It is important
to recognize that all modes of transportation, air travel in particular, are
predicted to dramatically increase into the year 2000 and beyond. It is through
committees such as this that our contribution to the Canadian air navigation
system can be voiced to assist in the establishment of legislation that will
respond to those demands.
Subject to any questions or comments committee members may have, we would like
to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing us to present our concerns
to you today.
Senator Roberge: I have a few questions based on safety. I wanted to take
advantage of your visit here to ask you about some matters which are not
entirely related to Bill S-2. For example, what are the hours of work for an
air traffic controller?
Mr. C.A. Rushton, Vice-President Technical, Canadian Air Traffic Control
Association: In our collective agreement it is 34 hours per week. We work five
days on and four days off. Usually, it is an eight and one-quarter hour shift,
but that can vary.
Senator Roberge: Are there any rest periods in between?
Mr. Rushton: We get them when they are available. If traffic is light, we get
more breaks than if it is heavy, which, unfortunately, is not the way you want
it. The busier the traffic, the more people have to work.
Senator Roberge: In trucking, studies were made which evaluated the length of
time for which individuals can work without becoming overtired. The attendance
of an individual is limited to a number of hours of work. After that, the
worker becomes less alert. Have any studies like that been done for air traffic
Mr. Barnacle: Yes, senator. There has been a major study on shift work, which is
now in its third phase. It has examined the effects of shift work and of
different shift schedules on controllers, and it has reviewed the issue of
taking breaks away from an operating position. While it recommended that such
breaks be incorporated on a more formal basis, it did not actually specify the
amount of time that an individual should spend in a control position before
having a break. The Transportation Safety Board in its 1990 report made a
similar recommendation that there should be restrictions on the amount of time
spent at a control position without a break.
This whole issue is one that is very much alive as between the union and our
present major employer, NAV CANADA. I mentioned that we have just completed a
major case on the issue as to what are the current requirements under the
collective agreement for such breaks. We have not yet received a decision on
that matter, and we will not for some months. Beyond that, I do not know how
much more we can say about what is currently in place, except that it is a
point of dispute as to what the term "operational requirements"
Senator Roberge: There is a subcommittee of this committee which deals with
safety in all modes of transportation across the country. Could you send us
some of the studies that have been made on that subject? That would be helpful
Mr. Barnacle: We would be pleased to do that. The first two phases of the study
have been completed. It was a cooperative effort in which we participated with
Transport Canada as well as other private agencies.
Senator Poulin: As you can understand from our comments at the beginning of
these proceedings, as well as from our questions, we are most concerned about
the support that you bring to your employees, because of the role they play in
our country's safety and in the safety of all Canadians as they travel back and
forth. We have all read the studies in the last 20 years that say that your job
is probably one of the most stressful in this country.
What kind of support do you bring to your members to ensure that they can
operate at their best as professionals during their 34-hour work week?
Mr. Rushton: I am also an operational controller. I am only involved part time
in the union as vice president; so that is an important question to me.
One of the most important things to us is the hours of work. To survive 35 years
in this job, you do not want to be working long hours and long weeks, and we
are working pretty hard toward that in the collective bargaining process. There
is a lot of overtime in our profession right now, which is another thing that
we need to get under control.
You can work nine days in a row before taking a day off. That is a lot. We have
been short staffed since I have been there, which is 11 years. Personally, I
would like to see our pensions changed so that we could retire a little sooner
after working at a busy centre. I think that is something we will work toward
in our next collective agreement.
We also have a very good occupational health program that we support, along with
the employer. In Vancouver, for instance, a lady, who is part of a consulting
firm and works with us, travels across the province taking part in discussions
and setting up field trips, and things like that. She talks about cancer and
We also have critical-incident stress debriefers. We have trained a number of
people in each unit. In theory, if you have a critical incident, something
quite stressful, you are pulled off work right away and you are given a
debriefing by one of these people.
Senator Poulin: Have the association and the employer agreed on an employee
assistance program? All of us have personal situations with which we have to
deal in our lives. Personal situations can sometimes affect the performance of
Mr. Rushton: One of the first things NAV CANADA did was to get us a very good
employee assistance program through a private firm.
Senator Forrestall: In the last paragraph on page 1 of your brief you state:
...in light of the comments by the Auditor General in his 1997 report,
individuals reporting alleged safety deficiencies to the TSB should be
protected from disciplinary actions by their employer.
Is that not covered to your satisfaction in the present bill?
Mr. Barnacle: I am referring there to the "regulation of safety"
section of the Auditor General's report, which starts at section 19.99. It
refers to the system as a performance-based review, or a performance-based
monitoring system, in that it is a system which requires assessment of
performance in order to determine whether safety is being met. However, that
assessment does not come from specific investigation by Transport Canada, the
regulator. It comes from monitoring.
What we are saying is that, given there is an emphasis on reporting, whether it
is to the safety board or to the regulator, Transport Canada, then that is how
the system will be subject to evaluation for safety purposes.
We believe we will need the protection for our members that is commonly known as
whistle-blowing protection. We do not currently have that. Just as with any
other employer, there can be an issue as to breach of confidentiality in
releasing information from a work location.
Senator Forrestall: Are there models, Mr. Barnacle, that might be applicable to
your case and which we could examine?
Mr. Barnacle: I cannot point you to specific provisions of other acts, and I
realize that that is not supportive on our part. I apologize for not being in a
position to give that to you today. Obviously, we can do that ourselves through
our collective agreement with our current employer. Also, that can be done
through legislation given that there are protections in this act for the use of
Under section 32, for example, there is protection for an informant or for
certain witnesses to the board. We would want to ensure that, from our
perspective, it is broad enough to cover our members using the confidential
reporting system or acting as any other kind of voluntary witness to the board.
Senator Forrestall: Is it sufficiently important that resources should be
devoted not only to solving the problem but to putting the mechanisms in place?
Mr. Barnacle: Yes. It is our concern that we will have a great house but there
will be no furniture inside.
Senator Forrestall: A great data collection system could be in place but it
would not be producing any comfort.
Mr. Barnacle: We certainly want to see the safety board as being very active.
That is a prime objective of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association.
Frankly, we would like to see the regulator, Transport Canada, being more
active, but that is not before you.
The safety board needs not only to examine past events but also to conduct
investigations, as it has done before, in areas where patterns of activity
suggest a developing problem for the future.
Senator Forrestall: That makes sense. Another area you mentioned, and it
startled me a little bit, was the excessive overtime. Could you take me through
the Toronto terminal, so to speak?
Mr. Rushton: No, but I could take you through Vancouver East Side. I started
working in that airport in 1989. Then it was quite common to work seven days on
and two days off. That would probably be normal. Through the summer you would
work a little more and through the winter a little less.
Most of us like it to an extent for the first few years, and then we discover
that we really need a life with family and we want to work less. The problem is
that, if you do not work that shift, you do not get summer leave because you
have to cover for your buddies. Also, you come to work short-staffed, which is
much more tiring than having to work the extra days.
Some people work substantial amounts of overtime. Some people do not work any.
The employer is relatively good about not forcing you to work overtime unless
he is really stuck.
Senator Spivak: Why should anyone work overtime?
Mr. Rushton: The easiest answer would be the salary increase, but we have been
told that, if we do not work the overtime, we cannot have leave. They need five
people sitting down on the East Side each morning. That means they need seven
people physically there so that one or two can be on a break.
Senator Spivak: Has this changed since the transition? What was it like before?
Mr. Rushton: The staffing is the same. They have been training full steam since
I got there. I was the first person hired after a long break. They have not
stopped training since.
Senator Forrestall: We were told by NAV CANADA that this would come to an end
two years ago. That is why it surprised me that you used not only the word "overtime"
but the word "excessive." That is scary. I serve notice that they
will be hearing from us.
Senator Johnson: Is it my understanding that nothing has changed since NAV
CANADA took over the operation?
Mr. Barnacle: That is fair to say.
Senator Johnson: They spoke to us about this in committee. Colleagues may recall
that they mentioned something about looking at this issue.
Mr. Rushton: Last March, it looked like there was not much overtime. All of the
people who liked to work overtime were wondering if they would have to sell
Senator Johnson: I discussed this on a plane with an air traffic controller who
was travelling to Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. He told me he was worried about
the safety of Canadians flying in this country now. Was he being dramatic? He
was coming to attend union meetings here.
Mr. Barnacle: Certainly, the association has made it a prime objective in this
round of collective bargaining to find a way to reduce overtime. The
association does not support overtime. We do support the concept that
individual air traffic controllers, who have been subject to a wage freeze for
the last seven years, should be entitled to translate their earnings into
regular hours and not have to rely on overtime in order to maintain their
standard of living.
However, there are a number of institutional barriers as well. Mr. Rushton, for
example, is an IFR controller in an area control centre, and air traffic
controllers in his area must be qualified for a very specific section of air
space. As a result, there have been continual problems in having enough
controllers in the areas where they are needed. The Winnipeg area control
centre, for example, is only 77 per cent staffed. Staffing has been as low as
63 per cent and has never gotten above 79 per cent.
Senator Forrestall: Is your area 90 per cent staffed, Mr. Rushton?
Mr. Rushton: It is approximately that, 90 per cent of the numbers that the
employer feels are correct.
Mr. Barnacle: Yes, those are percentages of the numbers required by the employer
and not necessarily the higher numbers we feel they need.
Senator Johnson: What costs would we be looking at in order to come to a meeting
of minds on this as between the employer and yourselves? What kind of increase
are we discussing?
Mr. Barnacle: It is not a question that we are disagreeing with the employer
that more controllers are needed.
Senator Johnson: But where is the meeting ground so that safety and the
financial side are both satisfied? I do not feel very safe in the air after
having that chat with that person, and, from what you are telling me, things
are getting worse. How can we improve this situation? NAV CANADA was supposed
to be the answer to a lot of these problems.
Mr. Barnacle: I have to say that, as tempting as it may be for us to dump on NAV
CANADA at every opportunity, that is not our goal. It has only been here for a
year. It inherited a system that had been operating for many years prior to
that. To turn it around in one year would be very difficult.
Senator Johnson: Did Mr. Copeland not resign after about six months?
Mr. Barnacle: The vice-president for labour relations resigned, too, or was not
there after September. We have no knowledge about the mechanics of the
situation. Certainly, it is a situation which we are endeavouring to address
from CATCA's perspective.
Senator Forrestall: Let me try another perspective. How many flights were you
having daily say in Vancouver in 1989?
Mr. Rushton: Our traffic has increased by approximately 50 per cent since I
Senator Forrestall: Traffic has increased by 50 per cent and you were about 90
per cent staffed in 1989.
Mr. Rushton: We were a little lower staffed back then. They have been catching
up to some extent in the last 10 years. Having only 10 years in, I am in the
top third of the seniority list across the country.
Senator Forrestall: That speaks volumes. You mentioned Winnipeg. Do you have any
numbers for that airport, off the top of your head?
Mr. Barnacle: Are you asking about the number of flights?
Senator Forrestall: Can you compare what was being asked of these men and women
in, say, 1990 with today?
Mr. Barnacle: I could not give you numbers in terms of movement. I can tell you
that the employer determines that it needs or believes it needs 162 controllers
in that centre. I believe 134 are currently there. Again, you could do the
math. I know it is operating at 77 per cent capacity, because that was a number
I happened to glance at.
Senator Forrestall: Is this a national shortage that comes about as a result of
the absence of adequate training?
Mr. Rushton: It started with the hiring freeze in 1986. As I say, they have been
training non-stop since I started in 1987. There has never been a day I have
gone to work that I have not been training someone or that someone beside me
has not been training.
Senator Forrestall: How long does it take to train?
Mr. Rushton: Almost three years.
Mr. Barnacle: The failure rate is quite high. Depending on the area, if someone
is coming off the street as a potential trainee, they will spend six months at
Cornwall in the training institute there. If they come through that, then they
will end up in a training period for up to three years. Along the way, there
are many opportunities for them to be "cease-trained" and to be
released from the system. Depending on your numbers at each of the IFR centres
across the country, you could have a rate of anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent
failure, or even higher at different times. It takes many people coming into
the system to be able to generate the number at the other end.
The other side of it is that we have a significant number of members who are
reaching the point at which they will be leaving the system. It is a problem of
constantly training to replace as well as to catch up. It is an extremely
I should point out that the shortage we are dealing with is with the IFR
controllers, the instrument flight reading or radar controllers. The tower
controllers are at staff. In some cases, they are over-staffed because they put
trainees there while they are waiting to find a seat for them in the local
centre for training. So they may be over-staffed. IFR control is where the
primary shortage is. Of our total membership of just over a 1,000 controllers,
about 600 are tower and then there are a number of members who are
Senator Forrestall: We have touched on Vancouver and Winnipeg; what about
Mr. Rushton: Nationally, we are at about 88 per cent manned across the country.
Senator Poulin: Mr. Rushton, referring to the proposed amendments to section 28.
Including the amendment that you are suggesting to us, which changes section 28
in terms of a definition of on-board recording, how do your members feel about
the fact that a recording from a control facility could be brought to the
Mr. Rushton: They would not have a problem with that. Our members have always
been open about investigations. We have internal investigations from NAV
CANADA. We have Transport Canada investigations and we have the Transportation
Safety Board. Our members are professional. They do not balk at the
investigation process. It is a safeguard to them to have everything recorded so
there is no doubt of what has happened.
We have land lines, hot lines, telephones and frequencies. They are all recorded
in the back room by a piece of equipment that we do not touch.
Senator Whelan: I come from Windsor, Ontario, an area that is serviced by
Detroit air traffic control. It is being suggested that Windsor operate without
any air traffic control officers. How could the airport operate that way? It is
the 11th busiest airport in Canada.
Mr. Rushton: That is a loaded question for me. We are in the process of
responding to NAV CANADA's aeronautical studies of seven facilities to decide
whether to keep the level of service or to reduce it. Obviously, we feel that
air traffic control is terribly important in those centres.
Senator Whelan: When you fly a plane from Toronto, you switch over to Cleveland;
when you get to Dresden, you switch over to Detroit. I do not think there is
any other place like that in Canada.
Mr. Rushton: It is a corner, yes.
Senator Whelan: I am appalled when I see this kind of condition. When I was the
most travelled minister in Canadian history, I rarely saw an airport without an
air traffic control officer.
Mr. Rushton: We do not believe there will be significant cost savings for them,
because they have to replace two controllers with three or four of the flight
Airports often end up putting in a tower because they have had an unfortunate
accident. The reverse is also true, and Castlegar is a good example of that.
They had a tower for 10 years and had no accidents so they decided maybe they
did not need the tower anymore.
Senator Whelan: I am talking about the safety part of it. I cannot believe you
can run an airport that busy without it.
Mr. Rushton: We do not believe you can either. We are making representations to
NAV CANADA right now, talking to the users of the airlines.
Senator Whelan: I would have thought they would increase the numbers, with air
traffic doubling by 2003 or 2005. I find it difficult to accept that the
direction would be towards fewer air traffic control personnel.
Senator Roberge: Can you take us through a simulation? For example, you have a
747 coming into Vancouver, and it has two engines off. What is the situation in
the air traffic control room with respect to safety and security? Is there a
list of items you have to follow up?
Mr. Rushton: This is an emergency situation in which they have lost the engines?
Senator Roberge: Yes.
Mr. Rushton: The first thing we do is coordinate with all the other traffic
control centres which the plane will be passing through to advise them of the
situation. We, of course, give the aircraft priority handling, moving other
aircraft out of the way, if we must. We try to get the plane as straight to the
airport as we can. The airport is in charge of crash, fire and rescue services.
We would also advise the airline, of course. We pass on information and assist
as we can. However, other than giving them priority service, there is not much
more we can do.
Senator Roberge: You move everything else aside?
Mr. Rushton: If it would cause a delay, yes.
The Chairman: Mr. Rushton and Mr. Barnacle, thank you very much.
The committee adjourned.