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.