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Transport Canada is the department within the government of Canadamarker which is responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada. It is part of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities (TIC) portfolio. Transport Canada has its offices in Ottawamarker, Ontariomarker.


The Department of Transport was created in 1935 by the government of Mackenzie King in recognition of the changing transportation environment in Canada. It merged two historic departments the former Department of Railways and Canals and the Department of Marine under one dynamic minister Clarence Decatur Howe who would use the portfolio to rationalize the governance and provision of all forms of transportation (air, water and land). He created a National Harbours Board and Trans-Canada Airlines. The Department of Transport Act came into force November 2, 1936.

Prior to a 1994 federal government reorganization, Transport Canada had a wide range of responsibilities including the Canadian Coast Guard, the St. Lawrence Seaway, airports and seaports, as well as VIA Rail and CN Rail. Significant cuts to Transport Canada at that time resulted in CN Rail being privatized, the coast guard being transferred to Fisheries and Oceans and the seaway and various ports and airports being transferred to local operating authorities; Transport Canada emerged from this process as a fundamentally different organization focused on policy and regulation as opposed to transportation operation.

Perhaps, the biggest challenge for Transport Canada came in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. After the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration closed down U.S. airspace as a result of the terrorist attacks, Transport Canada shut down Canadian airspace, to take in U.S.-bound international flights, launching Operation Yellow Ribbon.

The current Minister of Transport is the Honourable John Baird.

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles is a private contractor to Transport Canada. All motor vehicles being imported into Canada must meet certain criteria set by the Government of Canada and administered by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles does not have any process for appeals of their decisions, particularly relating the acceptability of documentation relating to "Recall Clearances". The RIV has in some instances decided to only accept certain documents for which vehicle manufacturers may or may not charge any fee they wish.

Transport Canada's headquarters are located in Ottawa, at Place de Ville, Tower C. Transport Canada also has regional headquarters in:

  • Vancouver - Government of Canada Building on Burrard Street at Robson
  • Winnipeg - Macdonald Building
  • Toronto - Government of Canada Building 4900 Yonge Street
  • Dorval (Montreal) - Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, 700 Place Leigh Capreol
  • Moncton - Heritage Building

Current Structure of Transport Canada

  • Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities John Baird
    • Deputy Minister, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Deputy Head Infrastructure and Communities Yaprak Baltacıoğlu Deputy Minister
    • Associate Deputy Minister, Suzanne Vinet
      • Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Marc Grégoire
      • Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs, Mary Komarynsky
      • Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Kristine Burr
      • Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services, André Morency
      • Director General, Communications and Marketing, Jean Valin
      • Regional Director General, Atlantic Region, Michel Doiron
      • Regional Director General, Quebec Region, André Lapointe
      • Regional Director General, Ontario Region, Debra Taylor
      • Regional Director General, Prairie and Northern Region, Sylvain Giguère
      • Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Michael Henderson
      • Departmental General Counsel, Jules Pigeon

Transport Canada org chart


The Motor Vehicle Safety Act was established in 1971 in order to create safety standards for cars in Canada. The department also acts as the federal government's funding partner on jointly-funded provincial transportation infrastructure projects for new highways.


Transport Canada's role in railways include:

  • railway safety
  • strategies for rail travel accessibility
  • safety of federally regulated railway bridges
  • Inspecting and testing traffic control signals, grade crossing warning systems
  • rail operating rules
  • regulations, standards and services for safe transport of dangerous goods
  • Canadian Transport Emergency Centre to assist emergency response and handling dangerous goods emergencies

Following allegations by shippers of service level deterioration, on April 7 2008, the federal government of Canadamarker launched a review of railway freight service within the country. Transport Canada, which is managing the review, plans to investigate the relationships between Canadian shippers and the rail industry, especially with regards to the two largest railroad companies in the country, Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway. The review period is expected to last more than a year and could lead to new regulations for carriers.


Transport Canada is responsible for the waterways inside and surrounding Canadamarker. These responsibilities include:

  • responding and investigating marine accidents within Canadianmarker waters
  • enforcing marine acts and regulations
  • establishing and enforcing marine personnel standards and pilotage
  • Marine Safety
  • Marine Security
  • regulating the operation of marine vessels in Canadianmarker waters
  • As of 2003 the Office of Boating Safety and the Navigable Waters Protection Act were transferred back to Transport Canada. As was certain regulatory aspects of Emergency Response (Oil pollution)


Transport Canada's role in aviation seems to be the most detailed, and also the most controversial. Until 1996, Transport Canada was responsible for both regulation of aviation and the operation of air traffic services, similar to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United Statesmarker, as well as the operation of most major airports. On November 1 1996, these responsibilities were split: Transport Canada remains responsible for regulation, but a new regulated non-profit company, NAV CANADA, took over responsibility for all civilian air traffic services. This change was (and remains) controversial because NAV CANADA began charging for services that were previously funded through general tax revenue. In 2005, the United States was discussing a similar delegation of the FAA's air traffic services to an "arm's-length" government corporation.

During the 1990s, Transport Canada also began privatizing the operation of large airports, and divesting itself of small airports altogether (typically handing them over to municipalities). Following the 1994 National Airports Policy, Transport Canada retains ownership of most airports with 200,000 or more annual passenger movements, as well as the primary airports serving the federal, provincial, and territorial capitals, but leases most of these airports (which make up the National Airports System) to outside operators; currently, there are 26 airports in the system.

In 2003, Transport Canada launched its Electronic Collection of Air Transportation Statistics (ECATS) program to collect passenger and cargo data in real-time from air carriers flying in Canada. ECATS will expand into the field of General Aviation during 2008.

Transport Canada continues to be responsible for licensing pilots and other aviation specialists (such as dispatchers and mechanics) as well as registering and inspecting aircraft. It is also responsible for the safety certification and continuous safety oversight of most forms of commercial operations. These responsibilities are carried out by 6 regions, Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie & Northern, Pacific and the sixth region based in Ottawa (National Capital Region) is responsible for air operators operating international flights and certain types of large aeroplanes.

Accident and incident data is collected by Transport Canada using the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System.

Recent Controversies

Transport Canada has been the centre of a number of controversies in recent years. The first involved criticism of its move to Safety Management Systems in its regulation of civil aviation. Whistleblower Hugh Danford, an inspector at Transport Canada, went on record criticizing this approach, indicating that it would increase risk to the flying public. The rail industry in Canada, which has had SMS for a number of years already and is also regulated by Transport Canada, has shown a marked increase in accidents under this regulatory scheme. Critics have warned that introducing SMS to the aviation sector is "a recipe for disaster".

In another, several Transport Canada senior executives, including Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Marc Grégoire, were sued for reprisals against another whistleblower, Ian Bron, who reported that the Marine Security framework was riddled with gaps.

More recently, Transport Canada has been criticized for its refusal to approve electrical cars manufactured in Canada.

The Canadian Association of Journalists nominated Transport Canada for its Secrecy Award for a second time in 2008, indicating that a Bill to amend the Aeronautics Act will cause "a veil of secrecy [to] fall over all information reported by airlines about performance, safety violations, aviation safety problems and their resolution."

In September 2009, Transport Canada was also revealed to have been fraudulently charging expenses to the non-existent Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project. This story came to light after repeated efforts by access to information expert Ken Rubin, and repeated denials by the department that the incriminating documents existed or that any impropriety had occurred.

Also in September 2009, the CBC's Fifth Estate produced a report "Riding on Risk", which detailed mismanagement and cover-ups in Transport Canada. The story was sparked by a lost memory stick which was found by a journalism student. The memory stick contained many documents showing efforts by security inspectors to enforce aviation security regulations, and the failure of management to do so. The CBC report also detailed the reprisals - and fear of reprisals - against whistleblowers and other employees.


See also

The provinces also have their own transportation departments, namely to deal with roads and vehicle licensing and regulations:


  1. " Contact Us." Transport Canada. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  2. Former aviation inspector: Transport Canada's "main concern was to get out of enforcement business"
  3. Freight train accidents soar
  4. New rules for aviation safety a flight plan to disaster, critics warn
  5. Marine security riddled with gaps: whistleblower
  6. Vancouver Sun: Transport Canada rules finish off electric car
  7. Canadian Association of Journalists
  8. Canadian Association of Journalists press release
  9. Transport Canada 'fictitiously' expensing millions
  10. Getting at Ottawa's expenses in Transport Canada
  11. Riding on Risk

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