Standing Committee on Finance
Monday, May 28, 2012
The Chair (Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton
Icall this meeting to order. This is the 62nd meeting of the StandingCommittee on Finance. The orders of the day are pursuant to theorder of reference of Monday, May 14, 2012. We are continuing our study of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.Colleagues, as you know, we are continuing with part 4. We arestarting with division 31.We have officials with us from Transport Canada to discussdivision 31.If you'd like, you can give us an overview of this specific section,and then we'll have questions from the members on it.
Ms. Karen Swol (Director, Program Management, Rail Safety,Department of Transport):
Good afternoon. I'm Karen Swol fromTransport Canada.The amendment we're going to present to you is on the RailwaySafety Act. It's division 31, part 4. The amendment to the RailwaySafety Act is as a result of a DRAP initiative from budget 2012,which reduced funding to the grade crossing improvement program.The grade crossing improvement program provides funding torailways and road authorities to make improvements to federalrailway crossings across Canada. The reduction involves reducingthe federal contribution portion from 80% funding to 50% funding.In order not to download additional costs to the road authorities,which are provinces and municipalities, the following amendmentsto the Railway Safety Act are being proposed.The first amendment, which is in subclause 484(1) is anamendment that limits the amount that the Canadian TransportationAgency can apportion to road authorities to a maximum of 12.5% of the construction and alteration costs. This is traditionally what the provinces and municipalities have paid in the past.The second amendment, which is subclause 484(2), provides theGovernor in Council with the regulation-making power to exempt any railway work, or any person or railway company, or any groupor class of persons or railway companies, from the first proposedamendment.The remaining clauses, numbers 485 and 486, are administrativein nature. Clause 485 includes the regulation under proposedsubsection 50(1), which includes a list of the regulations under theRailway Safety Act, and clause 486 is a coming-into-force clause.
Thanks for your presentation.We'll have questions from members.We'll start with Ms. Nash.
Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale
High Park, NDP):
I'll defer to Mr.Marston.
Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East
Stoney Creek, NDP):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.I had the good fortune early in my career of being a signalmaintainer on the CNR, so I installed a lot of miles of crossing protection, for about a six-year period.In the past one of the problems we had with level crossings wasthe accidents on them. You had to have a certain body count beforethey would actually invest in those crossings. It was a hugeinvestment in those days for the municipality.What I'm hearing is that now we're reducing the share of the cost that the federal government would have.
Ms. Karen Swol:
Mr. Wayne Marston:
Has anybody done any assessing or been indialogue with either the provinces or the municipalities or the citiesas to the impact on their ability to do the upgrades? With the trains asfast as they are today, and traffic.... To be quite frank, the peopletoday are not paying attention as much as they once did, so there's ahigher risk in my opinion.I had a crossing called Thorold Stone Road, in Niagara Falls.There were four people killed at that crossing in 11 months simply because they were in a rush. They were in a tourist area.My concern is whether there has been an assessment of any sort on the impact of this.
Ms. Karen Swol:
Prior to the DRAP initiative there wasn't, because the initiatives under the DRAP were secret. Since this hasnow been produced in the budget, we have informed thestakeholders and we're assessing feedback at this point.1