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Harper Government Announces First Steps Towards World-Class Tanker Safety System

March 2013


Backgrounder

World-Class Tanker Safety System: Amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act)

Among the measures to create a World-Class Tanker Safety System, the Government of Canada has proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to strengthen ship-source oil spill preparedness and response, introduce new requirements for oil handling facilities, and establish new offences for the contravention of pollution prevention provisions in Canada's waters, including administrative monetary penalties (AMP).

The proposed amendments will:
  • strengthen the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil handling facilities, requiring operators to be proactive in the prevention of spills, and also to have the capacity to effectively respond to a spill, if required. Currently, oil handling facilities are required to have emergency response plans in place. However, they are not obliged to submit these plans to Transport Canada. These amendments will make it mandatory for operators to provide these plans to Transport Canada to ensure they meet the regulations;
  • increase Transport Canada's oversight and enforcement capacity by equipping marine safety inspectors with tools to effectively ensure compliance, introducing new offences for contraventions of the Act and extending the Administrative Monetary Penalty provisions to the Pollution Prevention and Response portion of the Act (Part 8). By doing so, Marine Safety inspectors have the ability to impose administrative monetary penalties to oil handling facilities not in compliance with regulations; and
  • enhance response to oil spill incidents by removing legal barriers that could otherwise block agents of Canadian response organizations from participating in clean-up operations. Right now, Canadian oil spill response organizations have civil and criminal immunity in the Act when they respond to spills from ships. We will expand this immunity for when they respond to spills from oil handling facilities and provide immunity to foreign response organizations.

Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

Administrative monetary penalties are civil fines designed to ensure compliance with legislation as well as regulations and can address a range of compliance issues: some relatively minor and some more severe. An administrative monetary penalty takes away the financial incentives of rule breaking and thereby removes the financial benefit, advantage, or gain a person or corporation can achieve by committing a violation. It helps ensure future compliance by discouraging others from violating legal requirements.

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