Evidence of meeting #4 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was regulations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

One thing I would really like to see here is that we come up with an act that you can endorse. Truckers are very independent spirited, and they don't like a lot of regulations. They just want to motor on down the highway. I think that's fair to say.

Do you feel that if we make these amendments and forward this bill you would be willing to sell it to your membership, to say, “This is a good thing for us,” so that when it's received by the truckers, they don't come back to you asking, “Why do we have to do this”, and you saying, “Oh, it's just the government again making another law”? I'd prefer you to say, “We endorse this because it's addressing some of the safety issues that we need to address.”

4:40 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Canadian Trucking Alliance

Barrie Montague

We have two issues here, of course.

One is the act, which, as it sits, will have no impact. That impact would be with the accompanying regulations. As with all of transportation, the devil is in the detail. If you've seen the dangerous goods regulations, the act is 25 pages and the dangerous goods regulations are a thick book. What will transpire through the regulatory process is what is critical for us. That's where I think our selling and our detailed involvement in the development of those regulations takes place.

February 26th, 2009 / 4:45 p.m.

Lobbyist, Teamsters Canada

Phil Benson

Again, the devil is in the detail. I did talk in my presentation about the so-called smart regulations—which leads us to safety management, which leads us to oops.

In terms of safety management systems or best business practices, you don't require a government agency plan to do that. Basically, it's deregulation because business knows best. That's why I like the use of safety plans.

One example, because it came up the other day, was brother Bernardino. On August 26, 2003, two million pounds of frozen food fell on him in VersaCold. I went down a couple of years ago to tour the plant. The HR director showed me all the stuff he was doing, way above anything required by regulation. I was astounded. I asked why. He said somebody had died on his watch and it wasn't going to happen again. He wanted to see if we could get the government to enact or “prescribe” regulations, which was a bad word. Nobody wants to do it.

The last question I asked him was, “How much does it cost?” He said, “Cost? It saves us a fortune.” He said every time he goes to the board of directors they say to him, “Do more safety; it's really good.”

At the end of the day, when you talk about safety management systems, which is something we have universally been attacking, why I like safety plans is that they are something that companies can do without regulation. They don't require it. But really, it comes to Mr. Greenspan's oops.

When it comes to security and to safety, at some benchmark level we believe it's up to you to make sure that it's there. That's why the one amendment we asked for in the bill was the same amendment we had in Bill C-7, to allow the two transport committees to review regulations made under safety.

The answer is yes, we'll have to sell this bill, and we will.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Mr. Kennedy.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

There is a bit of an error in saying this is an exercise. I understand it, but I guess it's just hard to define how we're going to be helpful in shaping this.

You have some enabling permissions here to deliver some regulations. You have some experience with regulations in the United States. Did we learn anything from the experience in the United States on that front, in terms of what level of control there should be?

Because discretion, off the leash...I mean, you'd love to think you can shape it and the minister will be reasonable and so on, but you're wise to get it to come back to committee. I think that's a smart manoeuvre. I was talking on a different matter today, and implementation really matters. Government can't just spin out rough ideas and then hope they'll all land. So bringing it back somewhere is important.

So one question is on the lessons learned.

And then you've intrigued me on the whole idea of enforcement. If part of why we're doing this is that there's somewhat of a larger concern on the other side of the border--although hopefully we're not being slack in any way with our own risks and concerns--is the enforcement that much better there?

I see a silent response already.

I'd like to at least get an understanding of what we're dealing with. In my view, this should not be an exercise--not on your members, not on disqualifying people for quirky reasons, not on people trying to do business. I wish we could cut a little more to the heart. Maybe we're ahead of that. Maybe the overlying security concerns still require us to do an exercise.

So first, on my specific question, are there any lessons learned from the Americans on what makes for better oversight of regulations. Is there anything they do that you'd like to see here? You've already been given a chance to say what you wanted different, but it's just from that specific point of view.

Then on the enforcement, are there any answers different from the silent one I got?

4:45 p.m.

Lobbyist, Teamsters Canada

Phil Benson

I'll be honest with you, it was a Liberal government that brought it in, but I'll be fair to everybody. It was not really meant to be what happened, but an entire industry evolved around how we can just avoid making a--the dirty word is “prescriptive”--rule. We can just trust companies. If we've learned something from the United States, considering the millions of people who are going to lose their jobs, I'd say that pendulum has swung, and it should swing.

At the same time, I don't think Teamsters Canada wants to go back to the old days of complete regulation. That's why we brought forward that one amendment last time, and we sure hope you look at it again.

The backrooms understand that there is going to be a public view of the regulation, that it just doesn't go into the Canada Gazette part II and disappear into space. For example, with the hours of service, we found that when the public and politicians looked at it, the backrooms were a lot more careful with what they did.

I will tell you I have more faith in the TDG regulations because of the collegial model that we have. I think Louis is still the chair--and I'm not saying it's because he's the chair, but we're friends--and it's a much more collegial manner. We have also brought up suggestions in more areas, as in security. Also, in our paper we congratulated the government on the rail advisory council, where they ensured that the Teamsters and other unions were full participants.

The one lesson I have from the TDGA is that if this were applied to other areas, where more players were in the room and less parochial interests were looked at, we'd have better rules.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, I just have a quick clarification point.

Are there any other signal lessons about the oversight in legislation--because that's what we have in front of us--to make for better regulatory powers or exercise of those powers by the discretionary authority, in this case the minister and the ministry? I got the visibility part, I think. Is there anything else?

4:50 p.m.

Lobbyist, Teamsters Canada

Phil Benson

If it's going to come back to this committee or any committee, I would suggest--and this is our policy now--that any time there is prescribed legislation, at least in areas we're concerned about, we're going to ask for that particular amendment. We believe the security and safety of the public rests with all of you in the House and the Senate. It doesn't rest with advisory councils, teamsters, trucking companies, and everybody else. We might have great ideas in the backrooms, they might seem like good ideas, but I think at the end of the day you have to have the right to take a look at it.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Mr. Laferriere.

4:50 p.m.

Director, Technical Affairs, Canadian Chemical Producers' Association

Louis Laferriere

I don't have any answer for you on the enforcement question. I don't have any experience in the United States in that regard. I'm sorry, I can't help you there.

I do have an answer for you on the lessons learned. One lesson clearly learned in Canada a long time ago, which we've put in place and has benefited us, is the ERAP lesson. I'm proud of that on a Canadian basis. In the States when they started to look at legislating security, the question came up, what goods? The answer was everything. In Canada we've already done that homework. It's already been split out as to what should be regulated in security--the ERAPs--and what are lower levels that wouldn't necessarily see a benefit from that.

So I think the lesson learned, at least in some cases, is that Canada is ahead of the game. We didn't have that struggle with a long list.

4:50 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Canadian Trucking Alliance

Barrie Montague

I can't really answer your question, either, from an enforcement perspective. In general terms, I suspect there is more on-road enforcement in the U.S.

Is it more effective? I can't answer that question. All I know is what my members might say to me, which is that they're going to comply with the U.S. law, because if they don't, who knows what might happen. So they are more fearful, I think, of the U.S. enforcement agency. But is it any more effective? I don't know.

In this particular area, I think they're over-regulated. I really will say that: I think they're over-regulated. I think there are some dangerous goods they do not need to regulate from a security perspective. Those goods need to be regulated from a danger to health, danger to environment perspective, but they don't need to be regulated from a security perspective.

But as you know, all of these regulations were developed in the cauldron of 9/11, without very much sober second thought, I'm afraid I have to say.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Ms. Brown.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We've touched on some of this from a number of different aspects. This question is more, I think, for Mr. Montague and Mr. Benson.

Mr. Benson, you have talked a little bit about this.

For many years, I've been involved in my own company. We do disability management and have actually worked with both the Teamsters and the truckers association in Ontario, and we have used some of your facilities for training, and so I'm well acquainted with a lot of the issues you face. So I'm coming at this more from the safety side of things than the security side, obviously.

Mr. Benson, you were talking about some of the issues that arose when that accident happened and there was that fatality on-site and how that affected the person who was in charge. My question is, what are the safety issues that your membership are facing now, and how will the amendments we're bringing forward in this bill change those issues for your membership?

That's really my only question, Mr. Chair, so if someone else has other time....

4:55 p.m.

Lobbyist, Teamsters Canada

Phil Benson

Thank you very much, Ms. Brown.

Again, I think this is an enhancement. And the committee has to understand that an awful lot of work has gone into this through our relationships with this committee and other committees. It makes it stronger; it makes it better.

The issue at CN and CP, as I understand it—and I'm sure my brother in the back of the room may give me some heck for this—just has to do with.... As an example, if the first responder is our member, then they have to make sure and know what was being transported and where it is. For trains, it's simply a case that if the train is supposed to have 130 cars and there are 135, what is on the other five cars? Where are they? What are they carrying? There are plans in place to ensure that with trains, they know what they're carrying and what they're supposed to do. But when a truck driver is trained, he's supposed to know what's there and what shows up. When the firemen and the police show up, they have to be able to tell them. But also for the safety of our members, they also have to know when they have to run like heck.

So again, when an accident or derailment or anything happens, the press talks about how bad it is for the public, how bad it is for everybody, but it's perhaps one of our members who is running for their life.

So as we said in our submission to you, anything in this bill that makes this stronger—more enforcement, better training, to make things safer for our members—is greatly appreciated, and we do appreciate it.

4:55 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Canadian Trucking Alliance

Barrie Montague

I would endorse that. However, I would say that the number of road accidents involving dangerous goods that resulted in injury to truck drivers as a direct result of the dangerous goods, as opposed to the vehicle accident itself, is very, very small. It's very, very small, and that's a direct result of the regulations in place. So when there is an accident, the means of containment for those dangerous goods will withstand the trauma of the event. We have load security rules that will stop the containers from bouncing about, and those kind of things. So in general terms, they don't really get hurt by the dangerous goods. So this isn't really going to have a great deal of effect on that aspect of the transportation of dangerous goods.