Mr. Speaker, I actually wanted to rise to ask a question of the hon. member for Saint John. However, I am sure she is listening carefully and will ponder what I will ask and then get back to me later.
As members know, the member for Saint John is a very passionate person who always defends what she thinks is appropriate, and I quite respect that.
At the recent policy convention that the Progressive Conservative Party held, it seems to me that it wanted to spend $23 billion a year in debt reduction and another $100 billion in tax relief over the next number of years. This would total in excess of $200 billion. This was all before even a cent was allocated for infrastructure in this all important transport area.
The member spoke a minute ago about the early 1980s, which was the time of Mr. Mulroney and high deficits. She knows this better than I, but the hon. member's former colleague, Mr. Crosby, one of those great Mulroneyites, even questioned the wisdom of that. I thought that would be a good question to ask the member for Saint John, but I am sure she will get back to me at another time.
It is a great honour to speak to this particular issue. It is very important in terms of what we on the government side are doing in this area. I am pleased to speak on the many initiatives that are under way that respond directly to the motion that has been raised by the Progressive Conservative Party, misguided as that motion may be.
Transport Canada's top priority is safety. We all know that and we support it because that is a key objective. Our objective in that fashion has always been to ensure high standards for safe transportation systems. Because of these, Canadians can count on one of the safest transportation systems in the world. It is not every country that can say that, so I think we should be grateful for the kinds of benefits that are in place as a result of these initiatives.
The safety and the security of Canada's transportation system continues to lead the federal government's initiatives. This commitment is reflected in all the activities of Transport Canada. I would argue and the people of Waterloo—Wellington, the area that I represent would argue that indeed is a good objective.
The department's focus is on developing practical safety programs, effective regulations and on ensuring that these regulations and standards are followed, in particular, it regulates and co-ordinates safety related matters in several areas. I want to take a moment to outline what they are: Aeronautics at airports, air and marine navigation, marine shipping facilities, commercial shipping, new motor vehicle standards, railways, bridges and canals connecting provinces with each other or with the United States of America.
Responsibility for transportation safety in Canada involves many stakeholders, including the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as industry and non-governmental organizations.
Transport Canada works closely with all stakeholders to ensure high standards in transportation safety, but especially with the Transportation Safety Board and the provincial governments to maintain nationwide system safety. Co-operation with foreign government agencies and organizations on several international safety initiatives is also being carried out. That is important in bilateral and multilateral ways.
As I said earlier, the Canadian transportation system is considered one of the safest in the world. Transportation occurrence statistics published by the Transportation Safety Board for the marine, aviation and rail modes show long term downward trends in accidents, accident rates and fatalities. Similarly, Canada's road safety record has continued to improve steadily over the last decades. That is important because Canadians want that and Canadians expect their systems in place to ensure that.
In 1999 accidents in aviation, marine and rail were down 8%, 16% and 6% respectively, below the previous five years average. Fatalities in aviation were 20% lower, in marine 17% lower, and in rail 6% lower. The aviation sector showed the fewest accidents involving Canadian registered aircraft in the last 25 years. Likewise road collisions also represented the lowest number during this period as well.
Transport Canada has a vision to have the safest transportation system in the world, a vision shared by all of us I would hope, with long term outcomes of protecting life, health and the environment, as well as property and maintaining public confidence in the safety and security of our transportation system. The department continues to strive for this through education, safety awareness, the establishment of effective policies and rules, continuous monitoring of the transportation system, as well as the enforcement of the laws governing transportation safety.
It is recognized that transportation safety is a shared responsibility between the federal and the provincial governments as well as industry stakeholders. And let us not forget of course the travelling public who are all important in this equation.
The government is moving toward a greater emphasis on performance based regulations where demonstrating the achievement of results is key. People want that kind of accountability. Mr. Speaker, you want it, I want it, parliamentarians want it, and all Canadians want it.
Greater emphasis is placed on industry to demonstrate that its practices are safe, that safe practices are reinforced, and safety information is systematically shared among the partners in a meaningful way.
Greater use is being made of the full range of compliance tools available to promote the use of safe practices and to reduce risk. This does not imply that the department's resolve to interfere where necessary is lessened; rather its intention is to rely less on traditional policing and prescriptive approaches.
On another front I want to point out because it is important that the department is pursuing broad strategies to respond to its business environment. For example, it is continuing to build a new safety culture in transportation circles by collaborating with industry and other interested parties in the development of systems and programs to encourage the adoption and reinforcement of safe practices.
Alternatives to regulation are encouraged. Where regulations are required, the focus is on regulatory efforts, on the safety objective to be achieved, rather than on the process by which it is to be achieved. That is an important point to note because it speaks volumes in terms of the department's direction.
In this technological world government organizations need to bring together data that is held in a number of disparate ways and areas. Organizations that put safety as a priority need to be available to selectively access and share that data with partners and stakeholders so that we can serve Canadians more effectively and efficiently. That is important for all of us.
For these reasons Transport Canada undertook to establish a safety data management framework to promote sharing constant access and integrity of safety data. For the same reasons internationally and nationally, Transport Canada is also playing a strong role in modernizing information management systems and focusing on collecting data and safety information that contributes to the measurement of results. The analysis of the resulting policies will also contribute significantly to the safety culture.
Along with partners, Transport Canada is developing common measures of safety performance and broadening systematic and constructive consultation feedback. As I said earlier, safety is not a responsibility of Canada and of Transport Canada alone, we all share collectively in that responsibility. In recognizing this the department is fostering constructive relationships with stakeholders by developing or participating in joint safety promotion and safety awareness programs, continuing to participate in forums and exchange programs, identifying and responding to stakeholder concerns, recognizing and rewarding stakeholders' contributions to transportation safety.
One of the best ways to establish constructive and beneficial relationships with industry, other government identities, transport operators, user associations and the public is to work with and consult extensively with them on important safety programs. Together we are developing new methods of intervening to promote safety and to better serve the public as a result.
Transport Canada intends to enhance its contribution to Canadian transportation safety by looking ahead and ensuring that what we do is linked to clear objectives and outcomes for instance by adopting a more systematic approach to risk management. That will include engaging the public and other stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue about what constitutes an acceptable level of risk, improving data collection, data quality, data sharing and enhancing analytical tools to measure results, identify hazards, identify trends and finally, by assessing the level of risk in adapting its safety programs and resources to respond appropriately to any emerging safety issues.
With the right information and analysis the department can do a better job of identifying safety trends, tracking safety deficiencies and targeting its resources to where they can be most effective.
On the regulatory side I want to take a few moments to talk about tools, practices and techniques that are being improved by identifying alternative policy instruments and compliance tools to promote and reinforce safe practices ensuring that transport policies, rules and standards are accessible and written in plain language and by increasing the use of explanatory material, guides, training and support of departmental policies, regulations and standards. This is done by clearly defining measurable objectives and evaluating policies, regulations and standards against them and by linking the use of policy instruments with safety objectives, those very objectives I spoke about at the outset.
The department is also involved in intervening on the international scene by contributing to the development of international standards and other initiatives that can lead to cost savings for the department and for all Canadians. We should be proud of that in terms of celebrating the good work and vision that Transport Canada has in this very important area.
The department is also participating in national and international transportation safety forums and by using all available opportunities to develop, improve and promote Canadian safety technology and practices. These are complementary aspects of our safe transportation system but they represent important assets for Transport Canada to maintain our high safety standards. What a great goal that is not only for parliamentarians but for all Canadians wherever they live in this great country of ours.
By doing this Transport Canada is also opening doors to international markets for safety, environmental practices and technologies for Canadian industries. What an enormous benefit that is to our economic cycle and our businesses as well.
The department at the same occasion takes advantage of the international recognition its safety and security professionals have earned to promote best practices and expertise. Transport Canada is working closely with stakeholders to market Canadian safety transportation and practices internationally.
I have taken some time to present the overall strategies in place to maximize impact on transportation safety. Transport Canada has completed or has under way several initiatives consistent with the strategic directives I have just provided.
To name a few, the department has revised the Railway Safety Act and is in the process of modernizing the Canada Shipping Act. Clear language regulations have been developed in dangerous goods and regulations on safety for railway management systems and they have been recently published in the Canada Gazette part I.
There presently exists well structured consultation mechanisms such as the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Advisory Council, the Canadian Marine Advisory Committee and the Railway Safety Consultative Committee. These are important to note because they underscore the commitment of the government in this all important area.
Several awareness and educational initiatives are under way such as Direction 2006 in rail and Vision 2001 in road with strong participation from industry and the provinces as well. The department has also developed modal strategic plans such as Flight 2005 in civil aviation and The Way Ahead in marine. These are visionary moves that underscore the commitment of the government in this all important area of transportation.
The department and my speech underscore the established specific strategic objectives that determine Transport Canada's long term vision as well as strategic direction with respect to the safety and the security of the transportation system in Canada. It sets out a vision for proactive measures to maintain our world class safety system, something we should applaud and celebrate knowing that around the world Canada is known as having one of the finest, if not the finest and safest system that exists.
With all the safety initiatives under way, Canadians can have the assurance that we are constantly striving to improve an already very good system and an already very good transportation safety record that we have acquired over the years. We should be proud of that as I know most Canadians are.
In response to the matter raised by the opposition, I can simply state without a doubt that the federal government continues to exercise the leadership Canadians expect in this all important area. I can reinforce and say that not only do the folks in Waterloo—Wellington, my constituents, but most Canadians wherever they live in this great and wonderful country of ours understand that and are proud of the kind of safety initiatives we have put into place.
Canadians are proud of what we have done over time. They have faith and assurance in the government's ability to carry forward into the future, not only with vision and insight, but with the kind of notions in place that underscore our commitment to doing the right thing when it comes to transportation in Canada. We know it is what Canadians want, need, expect and deserve.
Canadians know that we on the government side will continue to provide good government essential to Canadians from coast to coast. I can assure the House that the government will continue to do that in a manner consistent with the values of Canadians. Why do we do that? We do it because it is the right thing to do and it is the right thing Canadians want us to do in this very important area.