Mr. Speaker, last week, last Tuesday to be more precise, I asked the Minister of Transport, following the two train tragedies, if he had instructed VIA Rail officials to immediately correct the shortcomings with respect to emergency measures and first aid for passengers in case of a train accident.
The minister did answer my question, confirming that he had asked VIA Rail to take all necessary measures on a provisional basis to try and correct the shortcomings, thereby ensuring to the extent possible the safety of passengers and employees. That is where the problem lies. The minister said: "to the extent possible".
Does the minister realize that what is possible is determined by his office? Indeed, the emergency measures and all first-aid kits met DOT standards. It is up to the minister to upgrade these standards.
I am not satisfied with the minister's answer when he says that the measures required, the applicable measures will be determined on the basis of the investigation. The Minister of Transport knows full well what safety measures are required. It is those he has implemented in other means of transportation.
The minister must have the same measures apply to rail transportation, starting immediately. The minister may be hiding behind the fact that trains are the safest means of transportation. He even told me that it was an unprecedented situation.
However, that is no reason not to review safety standards in case of accident. We should not wait for another accident to happen before taking action. It is up to the Minister of Transport to act, and he must act now by upgrading safety standards. We must not forget that the statements of accident victims show that VIA Rail is not prepared and equipped for emergencies, as evidenced by the fact that the passengers could not open the doors, that they had to break the windows to get out, that first-aid kits only contained bandage rolls.
The facts are obvious. Safety standards are clearly inadequate and must be upgraded without delay, especially since even VIA Rail employees feel that they lack the training and the equipment needed to respond effectively to such an emergency. It is a very serious situation when the employees themselves feel they are poorly trained to deal with a situation like this.
I reiterate my question to the minister: Does the minister intend to upgrade safety standards? The minister must be aware that more people could have been hurt or killed in this accident and that we must do all we can to avoid this kind of tragedy in the future.