Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Good afternoon, members of the committee.
I'm here representing Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, which are my member companies. In Canada, these companies operate five assembly plants, multiple parts and components plants; as well, each has research and engineering facilities with mandates for advanced vehicle technology development, including partnerships in related software development.
CVMA members remain committed to the development and manufacture of safe automobiles, proactively enhancing occupant protection technologies in the event of a crash, as well as many new and innovative advanced driver crash assistance technologies to improve safety by helping the driver avoid crashes in the first place.
We support Bill S-2. We continue to share the government's objective to advance or enhance the safety of Canadians and provide additional regulatory flexibility to support the introduction of advanced safety technologies as well as innovations as outlined in the bill.
In our written submission, we have identified four areas that have practical and business implications and need reconsideration, particularly since the bill includes the ability to delegate some existing and proposed ministerial powers. Our recommendations do not detract from the safety objectives of the bill.
We offer the following recommendations, which are really there to improve clarity and, in so doing, provide for more effective policy implementation and efficient administration.
The first is with respect to proposed new section 10.61, power to prohibit offering for sale—defect or non-compliance. Manufacturers sell, wholesale, new cars to dealers that are privately owned independent businesses; manufacturers do not sell vehicles to consumers, retail. The proposed language inappropriately holds the vehicle manufacturer or importer, which do not sell vehicles to consumers, criminally and administratively responsible for the actions of another independent business entity, namely the dealer, to sell vehicles under a recall and stop-sale order to consumers.
Vehicle manufacturers and importers should not be held criminally or administratively responsible for the actions of independently owned and operated new car dealers. The proposed language to prohibit offering for sale defective or non-complaint vehicles should more appropriately be applied to dealers, which are the entities that sell vehicles to consumers. Doing that would be more consistent with the United States' responsibilities and requirements.
We would recommend that this provision be revised to give the power to order vehicle manufacturers and importers to issue a notice to the dealers to remedy the vehicle prior to the first sale.
The second recommendation concerns proposed new section 8.1, power to order tests, analyses, or studies. We recognize that this unique-to-Canada power is proposed to collect information quickly for the purpose of verifying non-compliance or defects in certain cases where information is not voluntarily provided. We believe, however, that the proposed language is very broad and risks being misused beyond the specific intent, with the potential outcome being to order any test, analysis, or study in any scenario, potentially downloading Transport Canada's compliance and audit responsibilities onto companies in lieu of the department's oversight responsibilities.
This wording needs to be updated to clarify the intent of the provision, which is to order tests, analyses, or studies to verify non-compliance, and to include the notion of “reasonableness”.
Our third recommendation concerns proposed new subsection 10.4(1), correction date. CVMA members strive to provide the most accurate and up-to-date recall information to vehicle owners. The act currently requires that an initial recall notification letter be sent to vehicle owners no later than 60 days following the notification to Transport Canada. If the parts required to repair the vehicle are not immediately available at the time of the first notice, a follow-up notification letter is sent when parts become available.
At this preliminary stage of recall, information on availability of repair parts may not be available, and estimates of the date for parts availability may be revised multiple times. The end product of this, of course, is that you could end having multiple letters going out to consumers. Consumers tend to become less sensitive, or desensitized, to those notices. It loses its importance, and they tend to avoid the importance of that notice to begin with. This undermines public confidence in the system. We don't want that, and we don't believe Transport Canada wants that.
Prescribing the requirement in the act also prevents the leveraging of communication technologies that may be better suited for providing information in a more timely manner, such as manufacturer web-based recall lookup tools that our members already have in place.
This additional requirement is not needed in the act and can be addressed under section 15 of the motor vehicle safety regulations, which define all the information required in the notice to the minister and the notice to vehicle owners.
Our last recommendation concerns dealer compensation. Based on Mr. Fraser's description of the proposed amendment that he plans on introducing, we would welcome such an amendment that satisfies the concerns of both dealers and OEMs, original equipment manufacturers. CVMA members currently address compensation for new vehicles under recall with their independent dealerships in a fair and equitable manner, both in Canada and in the United States. We will continue to do that, and we continue to be open to further discussions to deal with their concerns.
Madam Chair, those are my remarks. I would be glad to answer any questions. I am hoping we can get some support for our recommendations in this specific case.