Good afternoon, everyone.
Thank you for your invitation. I am pleased to be here before you today to discuss Bill S-2.
Although I am sure many of you are familiar with CAA, let me begin by providing a bit of background on our organization's role in road safety.
We were founded in 1913 as a consumer advocacy group, not as a tow-truck company. Today, we have 6.2 million members from coast to coast and the services we offer them extend well beyond emergency roadside assistance. From our inception, our organization began advocating for critical pieces of the traffic safety framework in place today in Canada, and from those earliest days, in pushing for stop signs to seatbelts to airbags to campaigns against impaired and distracted driving, CAA has been at the forefront of traveller advocacy for more than a century. Today, we represent roughly one in four adult drivers in this country, and we are recognized as one of Canada's most trusted brands.
We have noticed that consumer protection in Canada has lagged behind other developed countries, and so we are pleased to see that Bill S-2 addresses several of the shortcomings.
In the United States, for instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has the authority to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet federal safety standards. Since enacted in 1966, more than 390 million cars, trucks, buses, RVs, mopeds, and motorcycles, and 46 million tires, and 42 million child safety seats have been recalled to correct safety defects.
Here in Canada, CAA believes that for the owners of the roughly 23 million light vehicles on the road today, Bill S-2 is a positive step that would strengthen the enforcement and compliance regime to further protect the safety of Canadians. As drafted, we are pleased to see that the minister of transport would be provided with the authority to order companies to correct a defect or non-compliance, and would be given the ability to penalize companies for offences committed under the act.
While most manufacturers live up to the high standards we have set for Canadian vehicles, the fact remains that, even as we speak, Transport Canada has 16 active defect investigations under way. Of these active investigations, 13 date from before 2017. It must be said that there are instances where government intervention may not only be useful, but could even be necessary.
For example, on November 10, 2016, Transport Canada announced it had made a preliminary determination that there was a safety defect involving brakes on 2011 and 2012 F-150 trucks with a 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine; the department had received over 100 complaints about this. In his testimony before the Senate last fall, Minister Garneau said the government contacted Ford and was disappointed that the automaker disagreed with the government's assessment. The minister further pointed out that under existing legislation, the effective result at the time was a stalemate. Ultimately, there was a delay of nearly six months of public pressure that finally resulted in the automaker issuing a notice of defect on May 5 of this year. Bill S-2 would increase the tools available to the minister to limit delays like this.
Today, the strongest measure Transport Canada can take when dealing with vehicles it believes are a hazard to Canadians is to force the issuance of a notice of defect, which requires a manufacturer to notify owners that their cars are unsafe. That's it. The government does not have the power to force a manufacturer to order a recall and/or to effect repairs. This makes the current Canadian system a veritable, if not literal, paper tiger.
Bill S-2 shifts the focus to remedies. It gives the minister the authority to order a company to issue a recall and make companies repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer. The minister may even prevent them from selling new vehicles in Canada until they are repaired. This matches similar legislation that exists in the United States, finally leveling the playing field in these important areas for Canadian consumers.
Today, Transport Canada's website hosts information about vehicle recalls and encourages consumers to address their vehicle recall as soon as possible. However, we know that is not always in the control of the consumer. Bill S-2 is a necessary tool for enforcement when handling vehicle recall cases where the minister deems intervention is necessary, and it would provide positive, added protection for consumers.
For too long, Canadian consumer protection has taken a back seat to the United States. In our view, Bill S-2 goes a long way towards rebalancing the situation. It represents a solid advance for Canadian consumers.
Thank you for your attention.
We welcome any questions you may have.