Mr. Speaker, that answer was really short and succinct, and I appreciate that.
The automobile industry is very important for the entire country. One of the things I respect about the minister responsible for the legislation is the fact that he has done an outstanding job in bringing forward legislation that would do two things, one being the protection of consumers on the purchase of a major item. There are very few things in life that Canadians will spend as much money on than buying a brand new vehicle.
I have had the opportunity in the last couple of years to purchase a new vehicle. Thousands of new vehicles in all areas of our country are being sold. These items do not cost between $5,000 to $15,000. We are talking about an expenditure in the range of $20,000 to $60,000 depending on the type of vehicle purchased. That is a significant commitment.
When we look at the average lifespan of a vehicle nowadays, we have seen significant advancements in technology that have allowed vehicles to last longer. The average life of a vehicle today is far greater than it was when I was pumping gas in the seventies. The complications of a vehicle through technology have changed. I remember the days of being able to pop the hood of a 1976 Mustang, with a 302 motor along with a fairly simplistic looking engine. I could do all sorts of wonders. Nowadays, it is all computerized. A gadget plugs in and it tells us what the problems are. The car I drive today shows the air pressure of each tire. The technology and advancement in the automobile industry today is amazing.
One of my colleagues spoke earlier about Bill S-2. Within our Liberal caucus, a good number of MPs follow the automobile industry. We recognize how valuable that industry is to our country in providing those middle-class jobs and in providing consumers with good quality products. I suspect there is no shortage of members of Parliament who would articulate why they would like to see more automobile related jobs. It is not just the big factories. Endless parts stores and piecemeal work done throughout the country contribute to the construction of these modern vehicles.
Tens of thousands of people are employed directly through the automobile plants and many more are employed indirectly. It is important to highlight the industry as a whole and what it does for the Canadian economy.
Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our government recognizes the valuable contributions of those who drive this industry and provide the type of good quality jobs that are important for us. I want to recognize that upfront.
The Minister of Transport has identified an issue that has been around for a long time. It did not just appear over the last year or two.
I can recall being in the opposition benches, and we would often hear about recall issues. This is something that has been going on for many years. Maybe it has escalated. I do not know the hard numbers, but I suspect we have seen an increase in the numbers because of complications and the technology within our cars today. However, there is a great deal of concern from new car buyers when they go out and spend the kind of money they are spending to purchase a vehicle. Not only are they hoping for a good warranty, but also that the vehicle itself is safe to drive.
I think most Canadians would be quite surprised to find out the actual numbers. I indicated that we were talking about hundreds of thousands every year. We are into the millions if we look at the overall number of recalls over the last decade, recalls of vehicles just here in Canada. We have a website through Transport Canada that was developed to provide Canadian consumers with information. It does not mean that it has to be a brand new 2018 or 2017 vehicle. It goes back a number of years. People can look up their vehicles on the website to find out whether something has been recalled. I suspect we have literally tens of thousands of vehicles on our roads today that have, in fact, been recalled for one thing or another, yet the driver of that particular vehicle is not even aware of it.
Often we talk about the importance of working with the different stakeholders, in particular our provinces. Our provinces are responsible for the registration of vehicles. If I look at my own province of Manitoba, when one goes to that local Manitoba Public Insurance outlet for insurance, it would be nice if there was some sort of an educational component passed on to the consumer. It could be as simple as a piece of paper with the website, saying that the website should be checked to see if there is any sort of recall on the vehicle. Given today's computer technology, in the future hopefully we will see different levels of government working together in terms of how we might be able to improve on that particular system.
The Prime Minister often says that we can always look to improve things, to make things better. There is something there to better educate Canadians as a whole in terms of the importance of watching for those recalls. The recalls really came to surface for me personally back in the seventies. I drive a Ford currently. This is not to dis Ford, but the first recall I can really remember offhand was the Ford Pinto. Some people from my generation might recall that particular issue, which was a very serious issue. I think that was one of the issues that ultimately brought to light, back in the seventies, the importance of safety in the purchasing of a new vehicle.
We make the assumption that when these beautiful vehicles come off the assembly line, their many components are all 100% sound and functional. I believe our Canadian manufacturers provide some of the best, if not the best, vehicles in the world. We can take a great deal of pride in that fact. However, we also need to recognize that at times there are things that break down. Some of the things that cause a great deal of concern are those of a high safety value.
For example, if for some reason an airbag is not working properly, that airbag or the mechanism that allows that airbag to be deployed needs to be replaced. It is questionable whether that mechanism will survive the first, second, or third year because it sits in a new vehicle and is not tested through an accident, which is a good thing. If there is a fault, it is important that it be replaced. Those are the types of recalls that are of the utmost priority. Those are the types of recalls that ultimately save lives in a very real and tangible way.
We need to look at how we can encourage and promote a better sense of education with respect to people ensuring that they are aware of the potential problems that can occur in the vehicles they are driving. Airbags are an easy one to go to. However, there are all sorts of engine components and wheel components, you name it, and there are all sorts of issues or breakdowns or manufacturing flaws that need to be addressed.
To start off my comments, I thought it would be good to encourage people to recognize the need to stay up to date with respect to the type of vehicle they are driving and ensure that it is safe at all times.
Bill S-2 would protect Canadian consumers and it would make our roads safer. That is really what the legislation is all about. How would it do that?
As I indicated, there are hundreds of thousands of recalls every year. Today, it is really up to the goodwill of the manufacturer or a potential court action to cause a recall to take place. This legislation would empower the Minister of Transport with the authority to tell a manufacturer that there is an issue, that the manufacturer must deal with the issue and fix the problem, and that its vehicles will have to be recalled.
In addition to that, individuals will be compensated. They will not have to pay for something that is not their fault. When people buy their vehicles, they anticipate them to be fully functional. It is not their fault if an airbag will not deploy properly or there is a heating element that could potentially cause a fire because of a short or something of that nature. These things are not the consumer's fault. For the first time, Canadians will have a minister and a government with the ability to ensure that those manufacturing defects are being addressed. However, it is not only that they are addressed but also that the manufacturer will be covering the cost. That to me is a very positive thing.
If more vehicles are being recalled and fixed and the appropriate players are covering the costs, I suspect we will see our roads become safer because more vehicles will have had some of those flaws addressed and fixed.
There are six parts of the legislation that I would like to highlight. The first part I have already referenced and that is that the bill would give the Minister of Transport the power to order manufacturers and importers to repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer. That is an important point.
The bill would also give the Minister of Transport the power to order manufacturers and importers to repair safety defects in new vehicles before they are actually sold.
One of the things that has always amazed me is that there are brand new vehicles sold that have a known defect in them. Now through this legislation we would have in place the power to ensure that where there is an issue of safety, and even beyond that, it would be addressed. That is something I see as a very strong positive. Through this legislation, we would allow Transport Canada to use monetary penalties or fines to increase safety compliance and to enter into compliance agreements with manufacturers to take additional safety actions.
I see within this legislation so many positive attributes. I listened to what opposition members had to say about it. I understand and appreciate that we could always do better, but in two short years, we have a strong minister who, with the government, has brought forward legislation that would benefit our consumers and make our roads safer. I believe that all members should support this legislation because it is sound legislation and would be a good thing to see pass.