Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond on behalf of the Minister of Transport to what was said by the hon. member for Lévis.
The decision by CN to close the Joffre Shop, which is responsible for track maintenance equipment repair and overhaul is a business decision and is not related to safety. Transport Canada cannot examine every business decision made by a private company.
The relocation of the shop in Charny will have no impact on safety. The shop was responsible for the overhaul of track maintenance equipment. Equipment overhaul schedules have been modified to provide for more frequent light maintenance during operations instead of a complete overhaul. The location of the shop responsible for general overhaul has no impact on track maintenance itself. CN has announced that the shop will close on November 30, 1996.
For 1996, the cumulative statistics as of September 30, the most recent figures on main line accidents produced by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, show a drop in the total number of accidents in Quebec and New Brunswick.
This fact is corroborated by the figures of Canadian National, according to which the Champlain district, which covers Quebec and the Maritimes, is the only district where the ratio of main line accidents has dropped between 1995 and 1996. Track maintenance, which is essential to safe operations, will continue with equipment that is always in good condition. Transport Canada works together with the railways in order to provide Canadians with the highest possible level of railway safety.
Transport Canada railway safety officers monitor railway and track maintenance operations, equipment and level crossings to guarantee the safety of our railways. The Railway Safety Act authorizes them to restrict railway operations if they discover unsafe conditions and to impose fines on companies in case of violations.