Motor Vehicle Regulatory Enforcement – Oversight Program Description and Delivery (OPDD) - Fiscal Year 2022 to 2023

Table of contents

  1. 1. Overview of the program, operating context and environment
  2. 2. Considerations and drivers for oversight activities and priorities
  3. 3. Oversight delivery in 2022-23
  4. 4. Organizational contact information
  5. Annex A: Definitions

1. Overview of the program, operating context and environment

The Motor Vehicle Regulation Enforcement Program helps keep Canadians safe by making sure new vehicles and equipment meet Canada's safety standards. We also encourage companies to act quickly and effectively to address safety risks when they happen.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act is based on the idea that manufacturers certify themselves. Through the process of self-certification, manufacturers test and maintain test records to prove to the government that regulated vehicles and equipment meet all applicable safety standards. This approach is similar to the one used in the United States. It limits the government's pre-market influence and workload on the regulated community.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act applies to 3 types of companies:

  • companies that make regulated vehicles or equipment for the Canadian market
  • companies that distribute vehicles or equipment from those manufacturers to other people, for resale, and
  • companies that import regulated vehicles or equipment into Canada, for sale

The act also applies to people who import vehicles from the US and Mexico, and those who want to temporarily import vehicles and equipment for specific purposes.

The program oversees around 2,200 Canadian and foreign manufacturers.

Vehicles, tires and child car seats must be certified by the manufacturer before they can be sold on the Canadian market. This is why manufacturers certify their products during the design and development phase. They must keep records on the design, testing and field performance of their vehicles or equipment. This allows inspectors confirm that they meet all applicable safety standards and find safety defects.

The program evaluates whether or not companies are meeting their certification and record-keeping responsibilities, and if their products meet Canada's minimum safety requirements.

Public complaints of alleged safety defects are increasing every year. Transport Canada's analysis and investigation of these complaints often prompts manufacturers to issue recalls.

Unlike other modal programs, the Motor Vehicle Regulation Enforcement Program is based out of the Ottawa-Gatineau area. We conduct vehicle testing, exams, and investigations at our state-of-the-art facility in Gatineau, as well as conducting compliance audits either onsite or remotely. We also hire third parties to examine or inspect vehicles for safety related reasons (suspected defect, identify cause of incident), and support collision investigations.

We perform compliance testing of vehicles and car seats at the Transport Canada facility in Blainville Quebec, although we use different labs to test other parts.

Although industry must identify safety defects and non-compliance (recall) issues, and then notify the Minister and owners, the Program also typically provides data to industry, such as tests, audits, analysis and investigations. This data influences about 15% of all vehicle, tire and child car seat recalls in Canada.

Program overview

The Program oversees safety requirements for new and imported vehicles, tires and child restraint systems (child car seats). To do this, we assess manufacturers' and importers' compliance with the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations.

We oversee the safety of motor vehicles through:

Compliance testing

We inspect and test vehicles, tires and car seats to see if they comply with applicable requirements.

Compliance inspections and audits

We review certification records (on-site or remotely) to see if companies have and properly maintain records that show how their products comply with requirements.

Defect investigations

We document and analyze public complaints that allege safety defects. When warranted, we perform defect investigations on issues that may influence the safety of Canadian road users.


We review companies' corrective measures (notices of defect and notices of non-compliance) to see whether they comply with regulatory requirements, and adequately address public risk.

2. Considerations and drivers for oversight activities and priorities

Transport Canada oversees more than 2,200 manufacturers of vehicles, tires and child car seats. They produce many models, trim levels and versions of each product, and all have to comply with safety standards.

Due to the number of vehicles, tires and child car seats, it would take a lot of time and money to test and audit everything. This is why the Motor Vehicle Regulation Enforcement Program uses a risk-based approach for proactive oversight. Compliance testing is a proactive oversight activity.

The program also conducts reactive activities based on demand or circumstances, rather than risk. For example, we process regulatory authorizations, like applications for National Safety Marks or permits for temporary vehicle imports. Defect investigations and recalls are also reactive in nature.

The following considerations are specific to oversight activities, and have been taken into account in the development of oversight plans:

  • Inspections conducted via the compliance engineering, vehicle and equipment testing program are planned on a quarterly basis, as much as possible
    • While some tests happen in specific seasons (like winter tire testing), others happen based the on Motor Vehicle Test Centre's schedules and vehicle availability
    • As such, the number of inspections and costs can vary between quarters, with most happening late in the year
  • The number of defect complaints, recalls and regulatory authorizations, continues to rise
    • Due to the reactive nature of some oversight activities, the quarterly planning in the oversight plan is based on historical numbers and increases
    • This program tracks data based on a calendar year rather than a fiscal year to reflect the industry's and stakeholder's schedules
  • Quickly changing technologies like connected and automated vehicles, technologies that help drivers with tasks like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning systems, will lead to more testing and collaboration with industry
    • It will also require oversight officers to learn about and be comfortable with these technologies, so they can oversee and assess them

3. Oversight delivery in 2022-23

The delivery of oversight activities, such as planned risk-based inspections and reactive inspections, will be reported through the Canadian Center on Transportation Data (CCTD).

4. Organizational contact information

Transport Canada welcomes your comments on this report.

Email:, Director of Motor Vehicle Regulation Enforcement.

Annex A: Definitions

Required field



How Transport Canada promotes, monitors or enforces compliance with our safety and security requirements.

Regulatory authorizations

Given when a regulated party (for example, a railway company or vehicle manufacturer) applies for permission to do a regulated activity, or be exempt from it. We may give permission in various forms, including a permit, licence or certification. Transport Canada does not control the number of regulatory authorizations per planning cycle.


A documented, formal examination of industry compliance with Canadian transportation safety and security rules, regulations and requirements. Authorized Transport Canada officials record the results of each inspection. For the purposes of this document, audits are a type of inspection.

*Includes pre-site, onsite, and post-site inspection and oversight activities. Is complete when the inspector submits an approved inspection or oversight activities report. Does not include follow-up action, quality control checks or outreach activities.

Planned, risk-based inspections

All inspections Transport Canada initially commits to doing in a given planning cycle. The SO3 Management Board may authorize updates as needed.

*Include inspections that are announced (and expected), and those that are unannounced. Does not include:

  • estimated numbers of demand-driven activities, such as regulatory authorizations
  • “reactive” or “opportunity” inspections that happen because of a change in oversight

Follow-up activities

Arise from findings of an initial inspection. May include an on-site inspection, requests for more information, or enhanced monitoring.

*Do not include enforcement.

Other activities

Oversight activities that Transport Canada did not initially commit to in a planning cycle, and are not a follow-up to an inspection or audit.


Measures we use to enforce requirements and compel compliance. For example:

  • letters of non-compliance
  • directions or orders
  • ticketing
  • notices of violation
  • administrative monetary penalties
  • prosecutions
  • suspensions or cancellations of certificates or authorizations

Education, outreach and awareness

How we educate the public, and encourage people and companies to comply with the law (for example: industry conferences, air shows, training, web portal)

Quality control

How we ensure inspectors follow policies and procedures, and complete required documentation. Applies to an entire oversight activity, from inspection, to follow-up, to resolving non-compliance.Supervisors and managers are responsible for quality control.

Each program must have:

  • a documented, nationally consistent way of doing quality control
  • a procedure or set of procedures to ensure inspections follow approved standard operating procedures