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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 10 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Tuesday, March 31, 1998

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 4:05 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Lise Bacon (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, we will commence the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

Is it agreed that the committee move to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-2?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall clauses 1 and 2 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall clause 3 carry?

Senator Roberge: I move:

That Bill S-2 be amended in clause 3, on page 2, by replacing line 20 with the following:

consisting of not more than five members appointed by Governor in Council, at least four of whom shall be full-time members.

Senator Poulin: Three or four?

Senator Roberge: I would like to propose four. Following a discussion I had with Benoît Bouchard, who is the head of the Transportation Safety Board, they have had a problem finding a full-time member for B.C., and thus my proposal for the one.

The Chairman: Except for the discussion and the amendment, shall clause 3 carry as amended? Shall we take a vote?

Senator Poulin: You are recommending that four of the five be full-time instead of three of the five.

Senator Roberge: Exactly.

The Chairman: Three was not mentioned in the bill. The bill mentioned only five members: "consisting of not more than five members appointed by the Governor in Council." It did not say if they were full time or part time. Senator Roberge is proposing to have four members appointed full-time and one member appointed part-time.

Senator Roberge: The problem that they have in B.C. is in finding a regular, full-time member to come and live here. That is the reason.

Senator Bryden: I would tend to support that. You are proposing that there be not more than five members, and at least three or four shall be full-time members.

Senator Roberge: Yes.

Senator Bryden: On salary?

Senator Poulin: Yes.

Senator Bryden: At this stage in the consideration of the bill, why would we move from a clause that does not provide for any term of membership, whether they are full time or part time, or whether there is one.

Senator Roberge: We do not have a problem with the timing element. It will be a decision of the Governor in Council.

The Chairman: It says in the bill, Senator Bryden, that a full-time member shall be paid remuneration and a part-time member shall be paid a fee fixed by the Governor in Council.

Senator Bryden: This amendment would mean that four people would be paid the fixed remuneration.

The Chairman: The part-time members would be paid fees.

Senator Roberge: Presently it is five full-time members.

Senator Bryden: They are full time and you cannot find members to serve?

Senator Roberge: They cannot find members to serve in B.C.

Senator Bryden: If you have five full-time members now and you cannot find a B.C. member to serve, why would designating four full-time members as against leaving it open get more members out of B.C.?

Senator Roberge: They want one person from B.C. to be part time.

Senator Poulin: But the legislation actually gives the Governor in Council the flexibility to appoint full-time members or part-time members.

Senator Roberge: I understand that. We met with safety boards in the United States and in Europe, and others which are just starting up. For the sake of transportation safety, the transport committee felt that full-time members would be more protection for the government and for the Canadian public.

The Chairman: Mr. Hall, who was here last week, highly recommended that there be some full-time members and part-time members, which would preserve a continuity in the representation of the safety board.

Senator Bryden: I do not have any problem with saying there will be five members. If some are full-time members, they will be paid a remuneration. Those who are part-time will be paid fees, and you will leave it open.

Senator Roberge: We want to ensure that the protection of the Canadian public is better served by having full-time members and part-time members.

Senator Bryden: I simply do not follow the logic. Why four out of five? Why not three as the amendment originally stated?

Senator Roberge: If you have a problem with the four because it is for B.C., I do not have a problem with three or two either. I would agree with three or two. I felt that if B.C. has a problem, we will bring it down to four and one.

Senator Poulin: I am on the same wavelength here as Senator Bryden. If we say at least three, nothing prevents them from appointing four or five.

Senator Roberge: I do not object to that.

Senator Poulin: If we go with what the original amendment states.

Senator Roberge: At least.

Senator Poulin: You feel that full-time members can better protect the safety of Canadians, but then there is flexibility with two out of the five members being either part time or full time.

The Chairman: Do you wish to withdraw your amendment and present another one?

Senator Roberge: I still wish to present it. I should like to change the word "four" to "three."

The Chairman: The amendment reads: "...at least three of whom shall be full-time members."

Senator Johnstone: I would like to support Senator Poulin when she says "at least three."

The Chairman: Any other comments or discussion on the amendment?

Senator Bryden: Are the members of the present board all full time?

Senator Roberge: From what I understand, there are four full-time or five full-time members. I believe there are up to five members, and four are presently appointed as full-time members.

Senator Bryden: Are there up to five part-time members or full-time members?

Senator Roberge: There are four full-time members now.

The Chairman: Perhaps Mr. Johnson could be a witness today.

Mr. Johnson, could you answer the questions of committee members? There is some discussion on how many members of the board you have now. Are they full-time or part-time members? Could you explain the composition of the board?

Mr. Ken Johnson, Executive Director, Transportation Safety Board of Canada: The present legislation states that there shall be up to five members and any members appointed shall be full time. Presently there are four appointed members and there is one vacant spot.

The Chairman: Four full-time members?

Mr. Johnson: Yes. Under the present legislation, if you are appointed you must be full time. The amendment was to give the government the discretion or the flexibility to have some mix of full-time and part-time members.

The Chairman: The amendment states "at least."

Senator Poulin: Exactly.

Senator Bryden: I understand that, except that I have three amendments in front of me now that I have not seen before. Is this government policy or is this the policy of Senator Roberge?

Senator Roberge: This is government policy.

Senator Bryden: Is this a government amendment?

Senator Roberge: The amendment is mine.

The Chairman: It is Senator Roberge's amendment.

Senator Bryden: I always hesitate to do this kind of thing at the last minute. I want to make sure that we are not loading on someone.

Is this the chairman of the existing board?

The Chairman: No, he represents the safety board.

Senator Roberge: Perhaps you could give your title to Senator Bryden.

Mr. Johnson: My title is executive director. I am the senior public servant on the board, but I am not an appointed member.

Senator Bryden: In your opinion, would the present board support this amendment?

Mr. Johnson: Which amendment?

Senator Bryden: The one that states:

consisting of not more than five members appointed by the Governor in Council, at least three of whom shall be full-time members.

Mr. Johnson: That would be no problem for the present board.

Senator Bryden: I guess I would put it a little differently than that. Would they support it?

Mr. Johnson: I believe they would, yes.

The Chairman: I think Senator Roberge will withdraw his amendment, and he would be very pleased to move an amendment stating "at least three" instead of "four."

Senator Bryden: As long as it works.

Senator Johnstone: I second the motion.

The Chairman: Shall clause 3 carry, as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall clauses 4 to 16 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall clause 17 carry?

Senator Bryden: I move:

That Bill S-2 be amended in clause 17, on page 9,

(a) by replacing line 5 with the following:

"(i) the flight deck of an aircraft or a control facility for aviation operations,"; and

(b) by replacing line 16 with the following:

"craft or a control facility for aviation operations, on the bridge or in a control room of the."

The purpose of this amendment is to add the words "a control facility for aviation operations" for the purpose of the air traffic controllers. They asked for this, and it is acceptable to the government.

Senator Adams: Senator Bryden, do you have a written amendment?

Senator Bryden: Yes.

The Chairman: Shall clause 17 carry, as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall clauses 18 to 29 carry?

Senator Perrault: I should like to propose a modification to the bill. I move:

That Bill S-2 be modified by adding after section 28 the following:

Application of sections 32 and 33

28.1 For the purpose of any legal, disciplinary or other proceeding that is commenced prior to, on or after the coming into force of this Act, sections 32 and 33 of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act, as they read immediately before the coming into force of this Act, continue to apply in respect of a transportation occurrence, as that expression was defined in section 2 of the Act immediately before the coming into force of this Act, that took place before the coming into force of this Act.

I hope this is absolutely clear to everyone here.

Mr. Johnson: This is legal language simply to provide a transition clause so that any legal actions that are started before the amendments come into force can continue under the old rules. This amendment is not more or less than that.

The Chairman: Shall clauses 18 to 29 carry, as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall the preamble carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Shall the title carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Is it agreed that this bill be adopted as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Senator Roberge: Following the visit we had with Jim Hall, Chairman of the United States National Transportation Safety Board, I would like to propose the following observation:

The committee heard from Chairman Jim Hall of the United States National Transportation Safety Board. In his testimony he explained that one of the shortcomings they faced during his mandate was the lack of coordination and support for the family of an aviation disaster. Congress responded by passing legislation in 1996, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act, giving their board the responsibility to address the needs of families of passengers involved in aircraft accidents.

Your committee feels that the situation in Canada should be assessed and that the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act undertake a study to identify any shortcomings in the matter of the provision of post-accident counselling and facilitation to the family and close friends of Canadians killed in major transportation accidents with a view to determining what measures, if any, may be necessary to alleviate those shortcomings.

Also, the committee feels that the expertise of the board could be valuable on major highway accidents and that the board should explore means by which it might co-operate more extensively with other federal and provincial agencies with a view to determining whether or not it might play a greater role in the investigation of some of the more serious highway accidents in Canada.

The Chairman: Is it agreed that I report the bill, as amended, to the Senate, along with these observations?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Senator Adams: Does that include train accidents? The observation refers only to highway accidents.

Senator Roberge: All major transportation accidents.

The Chairman: Train accidents would be included, Senator Adams. It reflects some discussions we had with Mr. Hall concerning the U.S. board. We can add this observation to our report on Bill S-2.

The committee adjourned.