Transportation of Dangerous Goods – Oversight Program Description and Delivery - Fiscal Year 2022-23

Table of Contents

  1. 1. Overview of the Program, Operating Context and Environment
  2. 2. Considerations and Drivers for Oversight Activities 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 Transportation of Dangerous Goods Program's goal is to improve the safety of transporting dangerous goods in Canada. This is required by Canadian law. The program:

  • develops safety regulations and standards
  • oversees the transportation of dangerous goods
  • provides expert advice, like through the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC)
  • identifies threats to public safety
  • enforces the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and its regulations
  • gives advice to emergency responders
  • reduces the impact of incidents that involve dangerous goods
  • does strategic risk assessments and scientific research

The National Oversight Plan describes all the program's oversight activities. These include:

  • regulatory authorizations
  • inspections
  • quality control activities
  • enforcement actions and investigations
  • education, outreach and awareness activities

Operating context

As of March 2022, the program has 144 positions that directly oversee the transportation of dangerous goods. This includes 112 inspector positions. This year, 85 inspectors will conduct inspections.

We have a schedule based on risk to inspect dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities. As a result, every known site and facility is inspected within a set timeframe, with the higher risk ones given top priority.

We're always improving our risk management processes. This includes updating our risk register to stay ahead of potential issues and make sure our inspection program can target the sites and facilities with the greatest risk to public safety.

Industry overview

Number of dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities

We know of 16,633 commercial sites in Canada that handle, offer for transport, transport, or import dangerous goods. There are 1,686 registered means of containment facilities in Canada and abroad. There are also many dangerous goods sites that we still don't know about.

The totals above don't include the dangerous goods sites or means of containment facilities inspected by the Government of Alberta on behalf of the federal government. In Alberta, provincial inspectors check dangerous goods sites that transport goods on the road or provincially-regulated railway. They also inspect highway tank facilities.

Risk levels

The program classifies all known dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities based on how likely, and how severe, a release of dangerous goods would be from the facility.

For 2022 to 2023, the percentage of dangerous goods sites allocated to each risk level were:

  • high: 1%
  • moderate: 8%
  • low: 15%
  • very low: 76%

For 2022 to 2023, the percentage of means of containment facilities allocated to each risk level were:

  • high: 5%
  • moderate: 55%
  • low: 35%
  • very low: 3%
  • new or unranked: 2%

Inspection cycles

Dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities with higher risk scores are given shorter inspection cycles, and so, they are inspected more often. The program prioritizes dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities based on their inspection cycle and how long it has been since their last inspection.

For 2022 to 2023, 82% of dangerous goods sites were within their inspection cycle. 79% of means of containment facilities were within their inspection cycle.

Compliance rates

The overall non-compliance rate for 2020-2021 was 38%. This represents a 10% drop from 2019-2020, and a 24% drop from 2015-2016. COVID-19 lockdowns and a slower economy meant lower volumes of dangerous goods were handled. This may have reduced the number of non-compliances. Another difference from previous years was that, in 2020-2021, most inspections were conducted remotely (i.e., by phone or video) instead of in person. This could have made it harder for inspectors to find non-compliances.

Safety trends

The number of dangerous goods incidents decreased between 2019 and 2020. COVID-19 lockdowns and a slower economy meant fewer incidents in 2020 and 2021. Most incidents happen on the road.

Internal operating environment

New approach for inspection planning

In 2022-2023, the program began using a new formula to calculate the risk caused by dangerous goods sites.

The program also created a new formula to rank all dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities. This new formula considers both the risk level and how long it has been since they were last inspected. This formula makes it easier for managers to select the highest priority sites and facilities for inspection.

Updated inspection capacity estimates

The program updated the inspection capacity estimates that it uses for new inspectors and certain regional inspectors. This was done to create consistent expectations across the program.

Hybrid oversight model

The program has created a new policy to guide the use of remote oversight. Between 10% and 25% of inspections in every region will be done remotely.

New inspection application

The program has created a new inspection application for managers, inspectors and planners. It was successfully launched in summer 2021. It includes features for tracking the time spent to complete each step of an inspection, inspection planning and reporting.

2. Considerations and drivers for oversight activities priorities

The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Program's oversight priorities for 2022-2023 include:

  • improving the database of dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities
  • developing a national compliance rate by monitoring compliance rates at the federal, provincial and territorial level

These priorities are reinforced by government and ministerial directions, as well as recommendations from auditors.

The following section contains program-specific considerations that guide oversight planning for 2022-2023.

Stretch target put in place

The program is setting a higher target for the number of planned inspections in order to identify efficiencies. The base target was increased by 4% nationally.

The program also set a minimum number of inspections that would be planned for 2022-2023. The program fell below this goal, due to several staff departures. As a result, the program increased each region's planned inspections by 7%, so that the minimum number of inspections could be reached.


The pandemic could have a major impact on the program's ability to carry out the national oversight plan. These impacts could include:

  • fewer available resources (due to inspectors self-isolating)
  • temporary closure of dangerous goods sites and means of containment facilities in response to public health advice
  • lack of domestic flights and travel options (Transport Canada has also limited non-essential travel within Canada)
  • lack of international flights

The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Program is managing some of these impacts by doing remote inspections (either by phone or video) for lower risk sites, or for higher risk sites that have been deemed unsafe for an inspector to visit.

For 2021-2022, 54% of inspections were done remotely.

Unplanned activities

Any notable increase in unplanned activities or incidents will make it harder for the program to complete its planned activities.

If some economic activities continue to be lower in 2022-2023 due to the pandemic, the program may not complete its expected number of unplanned activities.

Keeping up with more means of containment facility inspections

Due to an increase in the number of non-compliances at means of containment facilities in recent years, the program increased the number of inspections at means of containment facilities in 2020-2021. This was done by increasing the proportion of inspections of this type to 10%.

The program maintained this level for 2021-2022 and will do so again this year.

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.


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