Thank you, Mr. Ferguson, for appearing in front of us.
I want to focus on the emergence of autonomous driving technologies and vehicles. I'm very worried that we're going to miss the boat on what is a very important industry in our country. The auto manufacturing sector is incredibly important to employment in southwestern Ontario. It's one of our key industries. I've been reading reports that the autonomous, driverless vehicle industry could be worth up to $100 billion in about a decade in North America. It seems to me that one of the risks preventing us from being a big part of that is that our regulatory framework is not keeping up.
We already have autonomous vehicles on the highways today. A Mercedes S-Class can drive itself down the 401, can come to a complete stop in stop-and-go traffic, can accelerate up to 200 kilometres an hour, all without the driver touching the brake or accelerator. It can steer itself down the highway. It can steer itself indefinitely, although they haven't turned that on, but it will steer itself for a period of time before alarms start going off.
This technology is already here, and we don't have a clear regulatory framework on how to proceed. You identified this in your report of a year ago, that this was a big gap in the department's regulatory approach. You've mentioned numerous times here that there are lengthy delays to implement regulations and standards, sometimes in excess of 10 years. In your report of a year ago, you also said there were already semi-autonomous vehicles on the roads back then. In your report, the department responded to your recommendation 4.35, which says that Transport Canada should provide regular public updates on the status of its regulatory plans. The department committed to delivering on that last April.
We just had the minister here, and we were unable to get a clear answer as to when the new regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles is going to be released by Transport Canada. It seems to me they're not even meeting the commitments that they made to you for the gaps you identified in your report.
I just make that as a point. We're losing time here. Ten years is not that far out, and this is a critically important industry to workers and companies in Ontario.