Transport Canada has announced over $100 million in rail-related infrastructure funding in recent weeks. The projects receiving funding are part of a multi-year, billion-dollar program by the Canadian government to invest in key trade corridors. Projects include:
The Government of Canada will be bringing the new Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, and associated regulations into force on August 28, 2019. The outlines rules for transitioning to the new system seek to protect our environment and communities while making sure good projects can get built to create jobs for the middle class.
Alberta’s government is setting aside $10-million to help Indigenous groups use the courts to support oil pipelines and other resource projects. Premier Jason Kenney has argued that a small group of well-funded First Nations, which have successfully used the courts to derail projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, have had a louder voice than those in favour because of their access to funds. The province will accept proposals from First Nations or Métis communities, as well as corporations or non-profit groups with Indigenous involvement, to file new lawsuits or intervene in existing cases. Groups applying for the money must support projects that “improve Alberta’s interests.” The Alberta government also plans to launch a Crown corporation this fall to offer loan guarantees and other help to Indigenous-led proposals to buy into the Trans Mountain pipeline or other resource projects.
As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is seeing input through its Let's Talk Oceans Protection Plan website on proposals to develop a new and more collaborative approach to managing marine traffic issues in local waterways. The draft framework is available online and the comment period closes on Friday, September 27, 2019.
Federal employers finally have an in-force date for the recent amendments to the Canada Labour Code contained in Bill C-63 and Bill C-86. On September 1, 2019 workplaces subject to the Canada Labour Code need to prepare for major changes to a range of statutory provisions governing everything from work scheduling to leave entitlements to termination of employment, among many others. The changes will begin to take effect in September 2019.
Transport Canada has released Ship Safety Bulletin 11/2019 to adapt to the changing migration of North Atlantic Right Whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The previous interim measures slowing vessels down within the designated shipping lanes may have been pushing ships closer to where the endangered mammals are now gathering as vessels were altering routes to compensate for the lower speeds in the previous order. The whales have not been seen in the shipping lanes recently, and as result the interim measures have been adjusted.
The Government of Canada expects to surpass its marine conservation target of 10 percent protection of marine and coastal areas by 2020. The new Tuvaijuittuq (meaning "the place where the ice never melts") marine protected area planned off the Nunavut coast would ban new or additional human activities in the area for up to five years, but still allows Inuit to hunt and fish. There are also exceptions for emergency activities, some scientific research and "certain activities carried out by a foreign national, entity, ship or state. This new marine protected area combined with the Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area in the northeastern region of Nunavut covers more than 427,000 square kilometres.
This follows an order-in-council, issued on July 28 by cabinet, that prohibits all offshore oil and gas activities in the Arctic, building off a moratorium on issuing new oil and gas licenses announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016, alongside then-U.S. president Barack Obama. The new order-in-council is to remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2021 as the federal cabinet has the power to prohibit certain oil and gas work in Arctic offshore areas if deemed to be in the national interest, and the authority to freeze the terms of licence holders in those areas during the ongoing moratorium.
Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Canadian Coast Guard launched the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. Under this program, communities are encouraged to build up their on-water search and rescue capacity and funding is provided to support the purchase of boats, and other required equipment. This week $2.7 million in funding was announced for 14 communities and the investment is expected to add support to Coast Guard Auxiliary members in coastal regions across Canada.
The Government of Canada brought into force the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act on July 30th. The Act prohibits vessel abandonment and brings into Canadian law the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. It increases owner responsibility and liability for their vessels, addresses irresponsible vessel management, and enables the Government of Canada to proactively intervene to address problem vessels that pose hazards. Not complying with the Act can result in an administrative monetary penalty of up to $50,000 for individuals and up to $250,000 for companies or corporations. Convictions of more serious offences could result in a maximum fine of $1 million for individuals and up to $6 million for companies or corporations.
Note the new insurance requirements for Wreck Removal applies to all vessels and barges in Canadian waters over 300 gross tonnage in Ship Safety Bulletin No. 08/2019.
The Government of Canada has announced that it will be procuring six new program icebreakers to replace the current aging fleet of CCG icebreakers. A new competitive process, through an Invitation to Qualify, to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is being launched. Through the Invitation to Qualify, the Government of Canada will establish a short list of pre-qualified shipyards that will be eligible to submit a formal proposal to become the third strategic partner under the NSS, joining Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. Interested suppliers have 15 days, starting today, to respond to the Invitation to Qualify.
The Government of Canada is investing in a marine science initiative led by the University of Waterloo in Iqaluit, Nunavut. With the changing environment due to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and persistent chemicals that are present in the North, more science, data and Inuit knowledge are needed. The data collected under this project, will help characterize the current state of the coastal ecosystem of Iqaluit. The project, which received an investment of nearly $108 000, is measuring the concentration of contaminants like mercury and methyl mercury in species like molluscs, starfish and cod. This research initiative is part of the $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program.
The following communities will receive a portion of the $1,273,045 provided to assess and remove abandoned boats under Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program:
These announcements come on the eve of the coming-into-force of the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, on July 30, 2019, which will make it illegal to abandon boats and increase vessel owner liability, and strengthen the Government’s response in cases where owners do not behave responsibly in disposing of their vessels at the end of their useful life.
On July 8th Transport Canada expanded the slowdown zone where vessels are required to travel at 10 knots through the season where North Atlantic Right Whales are present. Mandatory speed restrictions were expanded to include any vessel over 13 metres long operating in areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Transport Canada has fined three vessels for alleged non-compliance of a temporary mandatory speed restriction. Vessels have been assessed penalties of up $7,800 CAD.
The Minister Transport, on his tour through BC this week, announced $5.8 million in Indigenous and Local Communities Engagement and Partnership Program funding for 21 projects with Indigenous groups. This funding will allow for longer-term Indigenous participation in engagement activities linked to Oceans Protection Plan initiatives or Canada’s marine safety system. Specially this will support building local capacity and expertise to help Indigenous communities take a greater role in the design and implementation of aspects of the transportation system and environmental protection measures.
In addition to this announcement was an addition $6.9M to extend the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) initiative pilot project through to March 2022. EMSA uses technology to provide accessible, near real-time, vessel movement data to coastal partners and stakeholders. This funding is going towards new maritime data sources, enhancing existing data sources, and building capacity for partners piloting the system.
Transport Canada has announced $102M of funding towards transportation improvements, including:
The Port of Nanaimo will be receiving $46.2M in funding by the federal government to enable the Port to make significant infrastructure improvements and expansions at its Duke Point facilities. The existing wharf will be expanded to 325 metres from its current 182, an existing crane will be replaced with two 24-metre cranes, a new warehouse will be built for general cargo, a new maintenance and administration building, truck gate, increasing the terminal’s storage area and upgrades will be made for electrical, sewer, drainage, water and security systems around the facility. An estimated 900 jobs will be created in the region during construction, besides the long-term employees who will be working at the expanded facilities.
As part of the government’s efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale, DFO fishery officers and the Canadian Coast Guard spent three days searching for and retrieving lost fishing gear, known as ‘ghost gear,’ from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In total, teams removed 101 lost snow crab traps and over nine kilometres of rope from the water. The operation focused on the areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the most gear was reported lost or missing by responsible fish harvesters. Since 2018, harvesters in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence have been required to report lost gear and there have been over 1,000 reports of lost fishing gear this year. Fishery officers will return any legal fishing gear that was reported lost, but all unreported gear will be held pending investigation, which may lead to charges.