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 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech this morning.

I agree that Canada can be a leader in motor vehicle safety and new technologies.

Does the hon. member have any ideas as to how Canada can succeed and prosper and the areas in which it can do so?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that we are playing catch-up. It is true that we are, just as we are with vehicles currently on the road, meaning cars, motorcycles and trucks.

Now we are at the dawn of a whole generation of new vehicles, including electric vehicles and especially all these self-driving cars, which will probably raise a whole other issue. We know that there are many testing grounds all over the world, and it seems to me that there is no escaping this technology. Using myself as an example, I would like it if I could do the trip from Trois-Rivières to Ottawa in a vehicle that would take me from door to door while I worked.

I think we already need to consider how we are going to manage these new technologies made possible by new fuel sources, technologies we still believed to be in the realm of science fiction only a few years ago.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, during which he demonstrated that we are not in the vanguard but are actually trying to catch up.

What, in his opinion, is the main shortcoming of this bill? Is it flawed on the financial side or in terms of lack of consultation with all vehicle safety stakeholders? The government is not taking the time to hold proper consultations. When the member read the Auditor General's statement, I was floored. When it comes to safety, we have to look at things from all angles, not just the industry's. To hear the industry tell it, there are not usually very many problems. That is my question for the member.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I think the main issue is the time factor. If this bill is supposed to improve vehicle safety, how is it going to shorten the time between the discovery of a potential problem and the recall work to ensure road safety? That is the key issue: making sure that months or even years do not go by between the time the industry becomes aware of a problem and the time it issues the recall to rectify that problem. If we can shorten the time that whole process takes, I think Bill S-2 will truly represent a major step forward, but we are not there yet.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the time factor being a major issue or concern of the New Democratic Party on Bill S-2.

Let me give a specific example. Let us say that a year after a model of a vehicle has been in production, we find out there are some issues with the side-door airbag. From the moment of discovery to the moment of a recall, would the member not agree that this legislation would give the minister a better opportunity to ensure that the consumer and in fact Canadians would be better protected by this legislation, because there would be more teeth in the legislation to ensure that we are able to address things in a more timely fashion? Would he not agree that the principle of the bill deals with the issue that the NDP seems to be most concerned about?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I would say that I probably agree with him in principle, but I would remind the member of the disconnect that I mentioned earlier between the powers this bill gives to the minister and the minister's management of his department. For instance, when a defect is discovered, if Transport Canada does not have the means to quickly study the problem at the same time as the industry, it might take longer for the industry to address the problem for all kinds of reasons.

If the minister really wants to be able to use his powers to compel a recall and repairs, he needs to be able to base his decisions on scientific evidence. This relates to the department's expertise capacity. Over the past few years, cuts at the department have been running counter to the specific objectives of the powers set out in Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, my other question pertains to funding. In previous years, the Conservatives made considerable cuts in the area of motor vehicle safety. Apparently, 59% of the budget allocated to that aspect has been cut. In addition, employees responsible for safety audits have also been laid off.

Does Bill S-2 do anything to restore that funding and reinvest in that area, to hire more staff to ensure motor vehicle safety and the safety of Canadians on our roads?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her interest in Bill S-2.

I will say two things in response. First, the cuts to the Department of Transport are not the sole purview of the Conservatives. This continued after the Liberals were elected in 2015. To answer the second part of my colleague's question, no, there is no mention in Bill S-2 of an increase in the budget or staff. The powers of people like inspectors and enforcement officers are being increased. The minister will have the power to hire new enforcement officers, but will he have the budget to do so? That is the big question.

Will the next budget talk about a supplementary budget allocated to the Department of Transport, or will there be a transfer in the envelope within the department? That remains to be seen. Are we borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, or will there really be new amounts, fresh money, to achieve the objectives of Bill S-2? That remains to be seen.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the hon. member for Central Nova.

I am pleased to speak today to Bill S-2,an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. I think safety is of paramount importance, and I am sure it is equally important to all members of Parliament. This bill, as tabled by the government, will help improve the safety of Canadians.

The importance of motor vehicle safety and a strong motor vehicle safety regime is clear. Millions of Canadians rely on that regime as they travel on our roads every single day. Large vehicle recalls in recent years highlight the importance of motor vehicle safety. This importance placed on safety is why we are pursuing the proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Those changes will, if passed, address key gaps in the regime and help ensure the safety of Canadians.

The proposed measures include new order powers for the Minister of Transport to order a company to correct safety defects at no cost to the consumer, an administrative monetary penalty regime and consent agreements to help promote compliance, measures that will help foster the introduction of innovative technologies, and many other proposed changes. These provisions have been envisioned as a suite of changes to strengthen our current safety regime and help ensure Canada can benefit from new technologies.

This is a significant overhaul of these legislative provisions. The motor vehicle safety regime is not as robust as it should be in terms of the protections it provides to Canadians. Should a vehicle have a defect that would threaten safety but a company does not want to repair the defect, there is very little the Government of Canada can do.

This situation could endanger Canadian drivers.

This is not an acceptable situation. While our vehicle manufacturers have a good track record here in Canada, we do not want to be in a situation where there is a safety issue for which we do not have the proper tools or authorities to address the situation. It is our desire to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that this safety gap is addressed. This is not to state that safety recalls will not occur in the future or that unforeseen risks and problems will not arise, but that we are taking concrete steps to improve safety by including new tools in the legislation that will be available to help address issues when they arise.

As part of the review of the bill, an amendment was brought forward from the other House that would provide additional financial protections to automobile dealers above and beyond those available to purchasers in the event that the minister of transport orders a company to correct a defect or stop a sale. As outlined in the amendment, these protections would ensure that dealers would receive from the vehicle manufacturer or importer the parts needed to correct a defect or the manufacturer or importer would repurchase a vehicle at full price plus transportation costs and compensate the dealer at the rate of 1% per month of the price paid.

I must state from the outset that vehicle dealers are an important component of the Canadian economy. They employ thousands of people across the country. They help to ensure that our vehicles are well maintained, and they are valuable members of the communities in which they operate. The changes introduced in the other chamber were motivated by a sincere desire to protect them from financial harm. This is a perfectly understandable goal, and I would like to thank our colleagues in the other chamber for raising awareness about the concerns that dealers had with Bill S-2.

The purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, however, is to protect the safety of Canadians. It is not designed to regulate the commercial relations between automobile manufacturers and importers and their dealers.

Furthermore, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act, as originally introduced, already included provisions that would require manufacturers and importers to be financially responsible for correcting or repairing a defective or non-compliant vehicle. This applies to dealers as well. To clarify, vehicle safety defect repairs would be covered by the manufacturer. This applies to importer vehicle owners, including dealers. I stress that these provisions include dealers because I think that this point was not always fully understood when the bill was initially considered or by the dealers themselves during previous study of this bill.

The originally proposed protections include repairing the vehicle or equipment, replacing the vehicle or equipment with a reasonable equivalent, reimbursing the reasonable cost of repairs to the vehicle or equipment that have already been undertaken before a notice of defect or non-compliance has been given, or reimbursing the sale price of the vehicle or equipment less reasonable depreciation on return of that vehicle or equipment.

The addition of dealer protections above and beyond those available to other purchasers, as well as the generous payment to this particular stakeholder group, would lead to an unbalanced regime that could raise significant risks of disputes between dealers and manufacturers. While the amendment introduced by the other House does impose some minimal obligations on dealers, as written, it would be challenging to enforce. Lacking any recourse mechanism, the involved parties would likely look to Transport Canada to mediate their commercial disputes. These powers are also not part of the amendment, and such activities are not in Transport Canada's mandate.

We believe that this amendment, as written, has many potential unforseen complications. It should be noted that it would actually remove some of the protections that were already built into the act. For example, it would create a mismatch of powers and may mean that dealers who had repaired their vehicle before would not be eligible for reimbursement.

Our overwhelming priority with this bill, as it is more broadly for the minister and across the entire transportation sector, is the safety of Canadians. Passage of the bill as introduced by the government as quickly as possible will help close some key gaps in the motor vehicle safety regime and help ensure the continued safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, earlier I had the opportunity to ask the minister specific questions around the difference between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2. I do not believe he answered the question I asked specific to proposed section 16, which speaks to issues of compliance, making violations public, and powers of the minister. I wonder if my hon. colleague would speak to those changes in proposed section 16 that make the difference between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right to point out that Bill S-2 does build upon Bill C-62. It actually goes further by adding extra mechanisms for the minister to use, and one of those is this consent agreement, which would allow him to negotiate and mediate long-term solutions. Right now, the minister does not have the power to compel any manufacturer or dealer to address issues. This is why there is a need for this bill and why there needs to be a little flexibility in how we address these issues.

It all comes back to the same issue over and over again. It is about what we need to do to protect consumers. We need to be able to do this proactively instead of always being reactive. We need to be part of the solution and negotiate or mediate a solution for Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get some mileage from the question posed by my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît to which I responded with a hypothetical and theoretical answer. By redirecting the question to the government, perhaps we will get a real answer.

The question was about Bill S-2, which also makes it possible for the minister to hire new enforcement officers.

How are we going to implement such measures, which require funding, when Transport Canada is in budget-cutting mode?

Is there a paradigm shift on the horizon?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows it is very difficult to respond to hypotheticals and to speculate.

I understand the member's concern, to make sure that we have a viable enforcement regime in place. I know the minister understands this as well. There are many ways of encouraging compliance, and I think that is what we want, a multi-functional approach to actual compliance.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the importance of the new powers that the minister would have in and through this legislation to correct safety defects.

I would just like her to expand on why that is needed to protect the safety of Canadians. How is that going to have impact in providing Canadians with safer security on the road?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. The way the legislation currently sits, the minister has absolutely no ability to compel a manufacturer or a dealer to address an issue. That is what we need to do.

We have not had to use those powers. Here in Canada, our dealerships, manufacturers, and importers have been quite responsive to the demands of the government. However, in case something like that ever happens, having those powers and for the minister to be able to use them would be very important.