Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act

An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status

Report stage (House), as of Oct. 19, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-2.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act for the purpose of strengthening the enforcement and compliance regime to further protect the safety of Canadians and to provide additional flexibility to support advanced safety technologies and other vehicle innovations. It provides the Minister of Transport with the authority to order companies to correct a defect or non-compliance and establishes a tiered penalty structure for offences committed under the Act. The enactment also makes a consequential amendment to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to road safety, we are all extremely concerned about marijuana-impaired driving.

With regard to Bill S-2, our concerns lie with motor vehicle recalls that do not happen. The problem is equipment-related. Our concerns about marijuana involve the person behind the wheel.

What does my colleague believe is a bigger safety issue, the concerns that are addressed in Bill S-2 or impaired drivers?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, you might find that question strange, but it is a good question.

Bill S-2 is about cars, about vehicle maintenance, about needing new wheel bearings. Now people will be buying joints at the corner store, smoking them, and getting behind the wheel. That is a fair bit more dangerous than a broken antenna. We need to deal with cars to prevent accidents, but a person who has legally smoked a joint and gets behind the wheel is much more dangerous.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, in his speech, my colleague also touched on the Liberal government's deficits, its out-of-control spending, and its all-out assault on small business.

Does my colleague think that, once they have forked over all of their money to the Liberal government, dealerships will have the means to keep drivers safe and do the necessary recall work? That is why the Senate's amendment is absolutely vital.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, that is another question that may seem out of context, but it actually is not.

I myself was a car dealer, and I dealt with recalls. Dealerships have to have liquid assets so they can absorb the cost of certain things that have to be done. Manufacturers send money, but it is complicated. If dealerships end up paying more tax in a roundabout way because of our wonderful government's new tax laws, that can have an impact on safety.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, it is nice to be able to rise today and speak to Bill S-2.

I want to thank my colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek for her work on this file as our critic in the area. I join her in supporting the bill going to committee for further study.

Vehicle safety is an important issue. It is an important issue for all of us in the House and for all Canadians. Over 22 million motor vehicles are registered in Canada, which is equal to one vehicle for every 1.6 Canadians. That is a pretty staggering number. With such a high number of cars and trucks on the road, we as parliamentarians need to ensure that automakers are being responsible to consumers.

As a former firefighter, I had the unfortunate opportunity to see first-hand the aftermath of many car accidents. I am pleased to know that over the years vehicle safety has dramatically improved. As technology continues to improve and increase, consumers become more aware of the need to have a safe car. Nowadays, many of the advertisements for new cars begin with safety ratings or listing the number of airbags or other new technologically advanced safety features, which tells consumers where they are at with these things, and it is good to see.

It is up to us as parliamentarians to ensure that safety continues to be at the forefront of the agenda by doing what we can to ensure that vehicles that have defects get recalled promptly and that consumers are notified. The strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act would certainly provide the power to the minister of transport to order a recall of vehicles and order companies to address deficiencies at no cost to consumers. This would be a way to ensure that Canadians are protected if there is a defect in their vehicle that would be as a result of the error of the manufacturer.

This legislation would also give the minister the ability to have manufacturers conduct specific tests on their products in order to be able to verify compliance with the act.

The minister of transport would have the ability to grant exemptions for regulations if the exemption promotes the development of new safety features or new technologies. That would be possible under this legislation as well.

Under Bill S-2, a manufacturer would have to increase the number of notices that it sends to consumers once a recall is issued, to ensure that the notice has reached consumers.

Transport Canada would also be granted additional powers to visit facilities and to obtain documents and testimony from employees.

This legislation would bring the powers of the minister of transport in line with those of our counterparts in the United States.

One of the reasons to support sending the bill to committee for further study is because these are all points that should have further discussion and debate.

Consumer advocacy groups have spoken out in support of this legislation and from their perspective it is necessary legislation. Our previous Conservative government introduced similar legislation in 2015.

These changes certainly may be needed but we need to ensure that all groups are heard from and given an opportunity to have their say. We have to take into consideration the point of view of auto and parts manufacturers who also represent a large part of the Canadian economy. Canada has a large auto and parts manufacturing sector that creates thousands of good-paying jobs nationwide. The last thing we would want to do as parliamentarians would be to create legislation that would drive them away from our country.

These new powers being proposed may be too sweeping. They may provide Transport Canada with the ability to order tests and unreasonable acts such as providing regular updates on the status of a recall and the availability of parts. What will happen when there is a difference of opinion between Transport Canada and auto and parts manufacturers?

Recalls have been increasing over the past six years. Safety-related recalls have increased by 74%. That shows that the current legislation we have is working and that auto and parts manufacturers are being responsible by initiating safety recalls without any prompting from the government.

My understanding is that auto and parts manufacturers are not necessarily opposed to this legislation, but they have raised some valid concerns and that is why it is important to look at sending this bill to committee.

I certainly would agree as well that Canada should attempt wherever possible to be in line with our American friends when it comes to certain legislation. The American government has the power now, for example, to induce a manufacturer to provide compensation to consumers for vehicles that need recall. In 2015, an auto manufacturer there was forced by the U.S. government to pay U.S. $105 million to buy back 500,000 trucks and SUVs and to offer incentives for consumers to participate in the recall. Canadian owners of those same vehicles did not receive those offers. That is a reason why it may make sense for our legislation to be in line with the U.S. government legislation, so that consumers are provided with the same levels and types of protections.

The biggest reason that I support sending this bill to committee is to ensure that proper consultations will actually happen with this bill. Proper consultations are extremely important, and the committee gives an opportunity for experts and witnesses to be heard and to provide their opinions on the matter. It is in contrast with what the Liberal government is currently doing with the small business tax changes that would damage our economy, small business owners, and those who work for small businesses. It would have a very detrimental effect on small business owners and employees and also on communities right across the country. In the communities I represent like Airdrie, Crossfield, Cochrane, Canmore, Banff, and many other communities like them all across the country, when there is a need to support a local sports team, when there is a charitable initiative, when someone is seeking to raise money for a family who is suffering through difficult times—and we have certainly seen some of those with some of the policies we have seen from the current government and its provincial counterparts in Alberta, that there is a lot of need for these things—it is small business owners who step forward. The current government, by not seeking to help them properly, is not giving them an opportunity that we would see under this bill with getting an opportunity in committee. When I think about those types of consultations, that is not what I want to see here.

I know, when speaking to people in the tourism industry, an industry that is important in my riding and important right across this country—about $90 billion to the economy—they tell me that the government has brought forward consultations on the small business tax changes. They are huge, massive changes that would have very detrimental effects. It is right in the middle of their busiest season, the tourism season in the middle of the summer. They have not even had a chance to look at these and figure out what kind of impact it would have on them, so how could they possibly be a part of consultations on it? They are certainly asking for more ability to be consulted on that. That is the kind of thing that we need to see occurring on all things like that. Certainly this change we are talking about here would be studied by a committee. That would give people an opportunity to be heard. That is what the government should be doing in the case of things like that.

When we talk about ensuring that people are being heard in this regard, we are talking about auto and parts manufacturers. They certainly need to be listened to. I hope that by sending this bill to committee, we will see them get the opportunity to speak and to give their recommendations on this legislation. I am pleased to see that the manufacturers support the premise of the legislation, but it is now up to us in this chamber to see what we can do to make the legislation work for all Canadians. That means sending the bill to committee for further evaluation and study.

Another aspect that the committee could seriously consider is that this bill would go beyond simply protecting consumers. It is a bill that would mandate that auto manufacturers need to provide financial compensation to auto dealers when a recall occurs. This changes the bill from a consumer protection perspective to a commercial relationship. By sending this bill to committee, the members would be able to discuss further whether additional ministerial or government powers are needed to build increased consumer protection.

We can address other concerns such as whether there are any unintended consequences that the bill might have on consumers. Obviously if the manufacturers are forced in the bill to comply with these regulations regardless of whether they are necessary, we can expect the prices of vehicles to increase to pay for the compliance with those things. These are things we need to be considering, and making sure that when this is being looked at, it is considered from a balanced perspective of manufacturers and the interests of consumers.

Achieving that balance is certainly where the challenge would be for this legislation. That is why it is important for the committee to have an opportunity to study it. That is why I support its going there.

Certainly, consumers need to be protected, especially when it comes to something as serious as motor vehicle safety. There is no question that studying the bill at committee would be an opportunity for us to see that done.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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London West Ontario

Liberal

Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Science

Madam Speaker, strengthening motor vehicle safety is, without a doubt, an important issue for all Canadians who travel all the time. Whether someone is in a car, a bus, or however one travels, this is important.

I would like to find some common ground here because I hope we can all agree that Canadian consumers deserve to at least be as well informed as our southern friends are about recalls. That is a real problem right now. We hear about recalls in the United States and assume that because our cars are so similar, the recalls must mean the same thing for our cars as well. Would the member agree this is a grey area that we need to work on together?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, if the member had listened a bit more intently to my speech, she would have heard me talk about exactly that. We saw a recall in the United States where there were not the same kinds of protections for consumers as in Canada. In fairly great detail, I thought, I discussed the idea that we need to make sure that we try where possible to line up things so that consumers in Canada and the United States have the same legislation. That is a goal we should seek to achieve. However, we obviously have to hear the perspectives of people. That is why it would be great for this to go to committee.

I hope that when we talk about the idea of common ground that she mentioned, she might support our position that for people who have small businesses, which affect our communities and are so vital to small communities across the country, there should be some proper consultation done on things like that.

I can say, and I am sure she has heard it as well, that I have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from all over my constituency, and probably all over Canada, telling me how concerned people are about these changes and the massive detrimental effect they will have. When we talk about ensuring that we are protecting consumers and those who serve our consumers, she should be talking to her government and the people on the front lines, the finance minister and the Prime Minister, about the kinds of terrible changes they are talking about. Making them would devastate our economy.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it has been difficult to know what bill we have been debating the last little while. We have been hearing a lot of speeches against tax changes. We are hearing speeches about cannabis. We have a non-controversial bill in front of us.

The bill was drafted by the Conservative government, under the administration of Stephen Harper. I have been listening to the debate for almost two days now. I have not heard anyone opposed to sending the bill to committee. In fact, it came to us from the Senate, where it has already gone through extensive hearings before a committee. The only controversial thing I have heard about the bill was in terms of the minister's comments whether the government would accept the Senate amendment to the bill extending protections to dealers. That needs to be studied at committee.

Does my hon. colleague not agree that the bill is widely supported on all sides of the House and just needs to get to committee?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, the member indicated she was confused. I will tell her what it is: this is Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. It is right there, so if she wants to check it out, she can have a good look at it. That is what we are debating. There has been lots of discussion about it here. That is a good thing. It is always a good thing to have an opportunity to discuss a bill.

When we talk about its going to committee, I agree with her. It should be receiving some good study at committee. That is important, and I would support seeing that happen. There is no question about that. We should hear the different perspectives and make sure they are all taken into account in making changes. I would encourage that to happen.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Yes, a very sad day. However, on a day that we are talking about motor vehicle safety, it is important to know that the venerable rodent died of natural causes today. The people of Wiarton will be holding a funeral for Wiarton Willie.

It is an honour to rise today for the first time in the House of Commons since returning from a summer of talking with constituents, attending events in Barrie—Innisfil, and being able to connect with Canadians across Canada in my former role as Veterans Affairs critic. One common theme that I heard this summer was that consumers are not having an easy time. Their taxes are going up and the cost of essential services is also rising, making it more difficult for them to replace those larger items they depend on, such as cars, trucks, and appliances. For anyone to suggest that the middle class and those working hard just to stay in it are any further ahead under the current government is false.

Bill S-2 was introduced by Senator Harder in May 2016. It resembles Bill C-62, which was introduced by my colleague from Milton, the former minister of transport in June 2015. In short, Bill S-2 would protect consumers by strengthening the Minister of Transport's responsibility to consumers by giving the minister the ability to assign penalties to car manufacturers for car defects and recalls.

It seems that vehicle recalls are becoming more commonplace. While these recalls ensure that road safety and preventing tragedies from happening are priorities, there needs to be a sense that manufacturers will continue to up their game and produce cars and trucks of greater quality than the year before, thereby preventing increased costs for consumers, dealers, and carmakers.

In 2015, over five million vehicles were recalled as a result of over 200 recall notices being issued. Bill S-2 would increase the authority of the minister, from issuing notices of safety defects and criminally prosecuting manufacturers, up to assigning penalties for safety defects.

The opposition does support the bill but feels that a greater conversation should take place in committee where amendments can be made to strengthen the bill. There, discussions will take place that will further protect consumers and manufacturers and, at the same time, make sure that the powers of the minister do not exceed a realistic expectation that might hamper the ability of car and truck makers.

Last night, in preparation for speaking today, I watched a few speeches by my colleagues. They were all excellent. However, I found the speech by the member for Peace River—Westlock to be the most interesting. He spoke from the perspective of a mechanic responsible for correcting the safety defects that cars are recalled for. I would like to read from Hansard a bit of what my colleague said yesterday:

The interesting thing about the recalls is that there is no similarity between any two of them. As mechanics tasked with correcting the issue, we often wondered why one thing was recalled and another was not, or why the same part was often recalled several times in a row. That goes to some of the issues the bill is trying to correct.... Many automotive manufacturers use the same supplier of airbags, and so the airbag recall crossed several different companies.

The last statement by the member for Peace River—Westlock identifies a concern about recalls and the suppliers. Will Bill S-2 single out car manufacturers only? Will the proposed act allow the minister to apply penalties to the suppliers of the car manufacturers?

The member for Peace River—Westlock also talked about the complexity of the recall itself. Again, reading from Hansard:

The whole [recall] system is in place already for when a manufacturer declares a recall, but it gets a little more interesting if the minister is going to declare the recall. Can the manufacturer at that point just say that since it is the minister who is declaring it, the parts will be made available and they will pay for getting the job done, but not necessarily reimburse the dealership's parts department or ensure they can actually make some money on it, particularly in the case of recalls that take a long time to develop the parts or develop the solution.

I do not know if Canadians completely understand how complex the issue of a recall can be, but I know that listening to the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock was a learning experience for me.

If, as my colleague points out, there is a disagreement between the Minister of Transport's office and the carmaker, will the car owner be caught in the middle? Make no mistake about it, the powers being given to the minister are diverse and tough. Do they extend further than they should?

Bill S-2 would give the minister the ability to order a company to issue a recall, require manufacturers and importers to fix defective vehicles at their expense, require companies to provide additional safety information, require companies in Canada to be more aware of foreign defects and issues with cars similar to those sold in Canada, fine manufacturers up to $200,000 per day per defect, and would provide increased powers to Transport Canada inspectors.

Bill S-2 would give the transport minister the same authority as the minister's American counterpart. Without doing some digging, the bill makes it seem that carmakers are sometimes reluctant to issue a recall notice. Here is a shout-out in support of manufacturers for issuing over 300 notices between 2010 and 2016, when Transport Canada had not received any complaints. Personally, my wife and I are currently going through a recall notice for one of our vehicles.

Will this bill make driving safer?

In the five years between 2010 and 2015, Transport Canada was responsible for only 9% of all notices from carmakers. Given that it only influenced 9% of recall notices, what does the government expect to see going forward? Will the minister have a threshold number of complaints before ordering a recall? Will the minister issue compensation awards based on the number of complaints or the severity of the defect?

It is my hope that Bill S-2 will not see carmakers going into either a defensive formation or issuing recalls to avoid an order to issue one. In preparing for speaking today, it has been my observation that car manufacturers in Canada and the U.S. have been, and are, very responsible to ensure that all defects are announced and taken care of as quickly as possible. No one wants to be driving a car that has a recall notice, and no one wants to be without a car because of a recall notice.

Finally, I also want to bring up a point that is related to how dealerships have to operate in these cases. The Minister of Transport will have to consider the ability of a dealership to correct defects quickly. In larger centres, this may not be the issue. In smaller centres like Barrie—Innisfil, the availability of parts for the recall will have an impact on the bottom line. Many dealerships are family-run businesses, with many family members being mechanics, sales people, and often office support staff.

Though I speak today on Bill S-2, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the government's planned tax reforms will also have an impact on these family-run businesses and their ability to provide good-paying jobs to people in their community. I cite some examples in Barrie and Innisfil of family-run operations that employ thousands of people in our area: men like Paul Sadlon, Jim Williams, Bob Jackson, Jamie Massie, and Drew Tilson, all automobile dealers.

The tax reforms that will hurt these family car dealerships can also affect how Bill S-2 would get defective cars repaired quickly. If tax reforms force the closure of a dealership or the downsizing of staff, all the efforts of Bill S-2 will be for naught.

Let us send Bill S-2 to committee to have important amendments made to strengthen the needs of the consumer while protecting responsible and proactive manufacturers from unreasonable government interference.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, my husband has been in car sales for over five and a half years. As the member indicated in his speech, one of the key issues they have in the smaller dealerships is the lack of parts. In the St. Thomas area, they are one of the highest selling car sales agencies in London. They are a small dealership, with six employees. The problem is that they have four parts available for 100 cars, and so a lot of times there has been a real delay in getting those parts, and sometimes for up to one year.

It is important that small rural dealerships be at the table at committee so we can recognize some of the issues of rural and remote dealerships.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, I am aware that the hon. member's husband has been in the automobile business for rather a long time. It is critical that this piece of legislation go to committee to have proper consultations with everyone affected by it, whether small or large automobile dealers. I sit on the automobile caucus, and this was an issue that came up. About a year and a half ago we were talking about this.

It is important that we get this right. We have indicated on our side that we are generally supportive of the legislation. However, there are some amendments that do cause us concern. That is why we have committees, to properly and insightfully look at these issues, how they impact Canadians of all stripes, and to try to come up with good pieces of legislation that we can recommend to Parliament.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

moved that Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to introduce Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. The safety of the travelling public is of paramount importance to Transport Canada and to this government. Road safety is an issue that touches every Canadian in some manner. Many of us have either been directly involved or have loved ones who have been involved in a traffic accident. Collisions and the associated injuries, deaths, and costs are tragic. However, to a great extent, they are preventable.

We are determined to pursue the continued improvement of motor vehicle safety because we want to help Canadians avoid tragedy on our roads. We believe that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its associated regulations and standards are key reasons why progressively fewer people have been killed and injured on our roads despite the fact that more people are driving. Improving the motor vehicle safety regime is part of our commitment to the safety of Canadians.

The purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is to address safety issues related to vehicles on Canadian roads. The proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act would provide the government with new and better tools for making our roads safer.

The Canadian motor vehicle safety regulations are applicable to all vehicles designed to operate on public roads, from motorcycles to heavy trucks. They also apply to some off-road vehicles that are occasionally driven across or along the sides of roadways or on trails. The federal government uses the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its attendant regulations to regulate vehicle and equipment manufacturers and importers, and to instil confidence in our stakeholders, including the provinces, territories, interested public organizations, and the general public.

The government has been heavily involved in improving and delivering vehicle safety for many years. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect in 1971. To keep the act current and effective, it has been updated at various times throughout the years. As innovations and technologies continue to evolve, there remains a continuing need to improve the act to ensure it remains current.

The act regulates the safety requirements that apply to new and imported motor vehicles and to new motor vehicle equipment in order to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment. The act enables the development of regulations and safety standards for new and imported vehicles, new tires, and new equipment used in the restraint of children and disabled persons within motor vehicles.

In addition to creating robust regulations, the increasingly rapid advent of innovative vehicle technologies requires that the legislative framework be agile so that it does not inhibit the adoption of new safety technologies. Canada risks losing ground in this very important market unless we take the opportunity to add some flexibility to the act.

Continual improvement and adaptation to the environment help keep Canadians safe. That is why we are proposing further changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act were tabled in the House of Commons for the first time in June 2015 as Bill C-62 to address safety gaps. The bill attained first reading before Parliament was dissolved. With a few additional provisions, the bill was introduced to the other House as Bill S-2. It has completed its process there and is now being brought before this House.

While there are a number of proposed amendments that I will outline, the most significant ones have to do with motor vehicle and equipment recalls. Generally, the major vehicle manufacturers and importers have a good history of addressing safety defects in Canadian vehicles. However, if a situation arose today with a vehicle, tire, or child seat where there was clear evidence that the product contained a safety defect that could put the safety of Canadians in jeopardy and the company did not agree and was not voluntarily issuing a recall, there would be little that could be done except to take the company to court. This would result in delays in addressing safety concerns.

Therefore, it is proposed to amend the act to authorize the minister of transport to be able to order a company to correct a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment if the minister considered it to be in the interests of public safety. Under such an order, there would be three options available for companies to correct the defect or non-compliance. The first option available to companies would be to repair the vehicle or equipment. The second is that the company could replace the vehicle or equipment with a reasonable equivalent. Finally, the company could choose to reimburse either the repair costs to the vehicle or equipment that have already been undertaken or the sale price of the vehicle or equipment less reasonable depreciation.

In addition, the bill includes the power to order companies to pay the costs of correcting a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment. These provisions can have a significant impact on safety.

The combined order powers are are designed to prevent situations where the owner of a defective or non-compliant vehicle does not want to or is unable to pay to repair it. Such situations would place an unreasonable financial burden on Canadians, and potentially place other Canadians at risk, should their fellow citizens be unable to undertake the necessary repairs. Provisions have been drafted to help ensure that manufacturers would be responsible for costs pertaining to the repair of known safety defects.

To help ensure that new vehicles or equipment with safety defects or non-compliances do not reach Canadians, the bill also contains a provision for the minister to order companies to ensure that defects and non-compliances are corrected before the vehicles are sold to consumers. This measure will help keep vehicles with safety issues from being driven on Canada’s roads.

These order powers complement the existing powers to order a company to issue a notice of defect or non-compliance. They address major gaps in the motor vehicle safety regime and, once passed, will help ensure that the motor vehicle safety issues are corrected.

Beyond these powers, other powers would be introduced into Canada's motor vehicle safety regime. Vehicles on Canada's roads are incredibly sophisticated machines, with complex and proprietary computers and software. Their complexity is only going to increase in the years to come. This complexity could make it challenging to obtain information relating to defects or collisions or verifying compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Therefore, this bill includes the authority for the minister to order companies to conduct tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment and to require them to provide those results to Transport Canada. This new ability to order additional studies would be very valuable to help determine details around safety issues.

As part of the proposed amendments, there will also be a requirement for companies to provide a contact person within the company to whom we can reach out for information and to verify compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This requirement would help in the establishment of clear lines of communications between companies and Transport Canada.

While Transport Canada has good lines of communication with the major manufacturers and importers in Canada, which will continue, complete reliance on these informal mechanisms is risky.

Formal, clear lines of communication will help ensure and increase the safety of Canadians. The proposed changes to the legislation will also increase the ability of Transport Canada to verify compliance with the Act and identify and analyze defects and collisions. The bill clarifies where and how Transport Canada's inspectors may access sites in the discharge of their duties. Bill S-2 also adds the ability to require the presence of persons who may be questioned on matters relating to an inspection and to require that all reasonable questions be answered.

The proposed changes will help ensure that our inspectors get the information that they need to ensure that companies are complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, while the authorities, requirements, and tools mentioned will help ensure Canadians' safety. However, there remains a gap in terms of the enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations.

Currently, the act only has limited enforcement tools to encourage compliance from companies. If a violation is suspected, Transport Canada notifies the company, and later follows up to monitor that any corrective action has been taken. If corrective action has not been taken, the only current option available to the department is criminal prosecution. This is time consuming and costly for industry and the government, and in some instances, may not be fully appropriate for a given violation.

Accordingly, the proposed changes introduce an administrative monetary penalty regime that will help encourage compliance from companies as an efficient, effective and less costly alternative to criminal prosecution. Companies will also have the ability to appeal an administrative monetary penalty to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

The review process will examine if the company or person has committed a violation under the act and, if so, whether the penalty that was levied was appropriate. In specific cases, actions rather than fines may be more appropriate or have greater benefit for Canadians, such as a safety promotion campaign or changes to a company’s safety culture.

A newly proposed tool known as consent agreements would create that authority. These agreements would authorize the minister to negotiate mutually acceptable agreements that would result in enhanced motor vehicle safety for all Canadians. These agreements would be registered in the Federal Court and published. Once published, they would have the status of a court order.

Together, the addition of administrative monetary penalties and consent agreements would dramatically increase the enforcement options available under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The proposed additions to the act are not, however, exclusive to the enforcement and compliance regime. As noted, vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever-increasing pace. This is particularly an issue as the automation and connectivity of vehicles increases and as new environmental technologies are further examined and developed.

As these new technologies emerge, there may be benefits in terms of safety, innovation, or the environment. However, sometimes our regulations may not be able to keep with these changes. As such, it is proposed to adjust the interim order and exemption provisions of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to help ensure the flexibility to support these innovations while concurrently maintaining safety for Canadians.

An interim order allows the temporary suspension or modification of an existing regulation while a permanent regulatory change is being developed. It can signal to industry and Canadians that a regulatory change is in progress that allows the early implementation of such advances. It is proposed to amend the interim authority to extend the period of such an order from one year to three years to allow sufficient time to complete the formal regulations and allow the earlier adoption of new technologies that could benefit Canadians.

In addition, it is proposed to make the current exemption process more efficient. This would support the adoption of new technologies or vehicles. The proposed powers would authorize the minister to grant an exemption from current standards in instances where it would support new safety measures or new kinds of vehicles and technologies but would not compromise the safety of Canadians.

Exemptions would be available to companies that applied for them and could demonstrate that the safety of Canadians would not be compromised. The exemptions would be made public, ensuring a transparent and fair process.

These measures will help to ensure that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act continues to protect the safety of the driving public, while not hindering innovation and technologies that can also benefit Canadians and their safety. This powerful suite of much-needed changes to the act will increase the tools available to the government and industry requirements while still keeping the focus on the safety of Canadians on our roads.

The other place amended the bill to add further protections for dealers. We appreciate the good intentions behind these amendments, as they have helpfully drawn our attention to certain concerns that dealers have about the impact of recalls on their industry. I would like to thank our colleagues in the other place for their efforts.

However, we also believe that these provisions, as they currently appear in the amended Bill S-2, are beyond the authority and the purpose of the act, which is to protect the safety of the driving public, not to manage contractual financial matters or the relationship between dealers and manufacturers.

If such an amendment remains in the legislation, it may create imbalances between dealers and other buyers. Some could have advantages over others. It could generate legal challenges when it comes to enforcement authority over dealers and cause unintended consequences such as leaving no recourse for manufacturers when dealers do not meet their obligations. These types of issues could potentially have consequences on the commercial relations and agreements that dealers have with manufacturers. The amendment also does not take into account that there are other mechanisms to protect the commercial interests of dealers.

Again, I recognize that the amendments made by the other place are well-intentioned and reflect healthy dialogue between our two houses. We believe that it is possible to address dealers' concerns while avoiding those unintended consequences. We know that dealers care about safety and that they will want to work with our government and parliamentarians to modernize the Motor Vehicle Safety Act in a way that benefits Canadians.

It is imperative, now more than ever, to have rapid action on the part of elected officials to move Bill S-2 forward. Canada's ability to more fully address its oversight role and its ability to properly assess the safety aspects of new technologies depends on the success of this bill.

I look forward to the bill going to committee for the study of its provisions, including the implications and consequences of the proposed dealer amendment. I support and vote for the committee to undertake a thorough analysis. I look forward to testifying in front of the committee with departmental officials and to working with parliamentarians to strengthen the act to make the roads safer for all Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the minister throughout this next session on some of the different pieces of legislation we will have before us.

As the minister noted, similar legislation, Bill C-62, almost identical legislation, was introduced by the former minister in June 2015. Upon review, we note that Bill S-2 differs from Bill C-62 specifically with some new proposed provisions in section 16.

Could the minister expand on the differences between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2 and provide us with a little bit of a rationale?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is right that Bill C-62 was originally presented by the previous government and had a large number of good measures, which are in Bill S-2. Where the two differ is that this new bill introduces a few additional points.

First is the power to negotiate consent agreements, which I spoke about.

Second is the power to enter into administrative agreements. We think this provides more flexibility, as opposed to always having to go to court, which is a long and expensive process.

Third is to broaden the duration and scope of an interim order power. This is aimed at trying to provide flexibility to those manufacturers developing new technologies. There may be a requirement to be flexible on regulations, in terms of safety, to allow them to develop these new technologies.

Fourth is to broaden the scope of exemption orders and to allow ministerial approval.

These are aimed at providing additional flexibility, particularly for the manufacturing sector when they are developing new technologies but still have to comply with safety regulations.

I thank the previous government for Bill C-62. The vast majority of it was well conceived. Unfortunately, it only got to first reading. We are carrying on with it, and we hope there will be a speedy adoption of this bill for the good of Canadians.