Transportation in Canada 2011

Outlook, Trends and Future Issues

From maintaining the country's transportation infrastructure and gateways in a time of constrained spending to taking advantage of new technologies for greater safety and security, change will be the constant in Canada's transportation future.

12.1 Introduction

In the coming years, Canada's transportation system will continue to face previously identified challenges, such as a trade-reliant economy, evolving demography and a relatively small, largely urbanized population spread over a vast area. Canada must remain competitive and align itself with global trade opportunities. The rise of emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China ( BRIC ) has reshaped global business models and value chains, driving demand for raw materials and energy. Emerging economies—as well as Pacific Rim countries—will remain key players on the global economic agenda. The resulting pressures on the world's resources, renewable and non-renewable alike, will impact the price of global resources; countries with resource potential; and where and how trade takes place. This section takes a qualitative look at the challenges that lie ahead for Canada's transportation system.

Through its legislative and regulatory responsibilities, Transport Canada currently supports the efficiency, safety, security and sustainability of the national transportation system, and helps ensure that Canada's system is well integrated with global transportation networks. Supported by a modern and responsive policy and regulatory framework, that system can substantially contribute to long-term economic prosperity. That said, all partners have a role to play, including the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and municipalities that may own, operate or regulate aspects of the transportation system.

For Canada's transportation system to remain successful and efficient, each level of government and the private sector need to excel in their respective roles, respect the boundaries that frame these roles and coordinate their actions to advance their activities and work towards a common goal. Successfully positioning Canada's transportation system to better respond to challenges and opportunities will require all stakeholders make strategic choices and take deliberate action that is predicated upon sound analysis, respect for each other's fields of responsibility, and effective collaboration.

12.2 Global pressures


Global trade will continue to intensify demand for transportation, while the harvesting of Canada's natural resources, including future resource developments, will also increase demand on the transportation system. More industrial supply chains will become integrated globally, and the pressure to reduce transportation and logistics costs—while maintaining the highest standards of efficiency and reliability—will drive decision making. In Canada, transportation will continue to support increasingly diversified networks of trade in order to sustain economic growth and maintain a competitive advantage.

The competitiveness of global trade networks that are important to Canada can be modified by strategic transportation infrastructure investments within or outside the country. An example of such an outside of Canada investment is the expansion of the Panama Canal, a 77.1-kilometre shipping lane that opened in 1914 to cut across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The maximum size of ship that can pass through the Canal is determined by the size of the locks.

The Canal has been a key contributor to the integration of the world economy and important to Canada specifically. Its opening prompted the construction of the first grain silo at the Port of Vancouver in 1918 for shipping Canadian grain to Europe. Today it supports Canada's growing trade between its East Coast, St. Lawrence and Great Lakes ports and Eastern Asia, offering an efficient alternative to transiting through the Suez Canal.

Currently, close to 40% of container ships are too large for the Canal. A $5.25 billion dollar enlargement scheme has been approved by the government of Panama and is in progress, with 2015 targeted for completion. Two new flights of locks to be built parallel to, and operated in addition to, the three existing flights of locks—namely Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatùn—will allow more transits and larger ships, doubling the Canal capacity.

A wider Panama Canal may enable more ships from Asia to serve the midwest markets through ports on the Atlantic seaboard, while also encouraging ships from Europe to serve western markets via Pacific Coast ports. Any in-depth analysis of the impact on Canadian ports from the widening of the Panama Canal must also take into account efforts by the Suez Canal to attract traffic between Asia and North America, railways proposed by China between Columbia's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the eventual opening of a Northwest Passage in the Arctic, and continuous improvements in the supply chain velocity and reliability of Canada's west coast ports which can accommodate larger ships—providing significant time and cost savings compared to routing ships through the Panama Canal.

In coming years, global integration and aviation and maritime alliances1 will in part govern adjustments to rapidly changing market conditions; they will remain drivers of innovation, imposing breakthroughs in technology that support lower logistics costs, enhanced efficiency and reliability objectives.

Integration across natural boundaries increases the risk of disruptions resulting from human activity or natural disasters. Global integration compels governments to focus on the resilience of their infrastructure networks, and to adapt policies so they can rapidly respond to disruptions and provide support when they occur.

International freight traffic

Canada's merchandise trade has diversified, and the country's international trade policy aims to continue this trend, with the government embarking on numerous trade diversification initiatives since 2007. Budget 2012 indicated the desire for expanded trade with China, and trade negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, India and the European Union. Trade diversification is likely to also occur through closer ties with Central and South America. Shifting trade patterns will force infrastructure providers—such as ports and terminal operators, and railway and trucking companies—to realign their service offering and increase their ability to process larger vessels. The trade supply chain will require a continuous push for smooth, seamless integration and cooperation between the marine, rail and road sectors. The United States will, however, continue to remain the country's prime trading partner, and initiatives such as Beyond the Border will help streamline the transborder movements of goods.

International passenger traffic

Emerging economies in Asia and Latin America are expected to grow at a faster rate than long-standing industrialized economies such as those in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. This represents a significant growth opportunity for the airline industry and its stakeholders. The Asian presence in the global travel market, particularly China, is expected to increase, with China's planning to build 45 new airports by 2017 and to expand existing facilities.

The future of the airline industry will be influenced by factors such as competition; the role of low-cost carriers; and the ability of legacy, full-cost carriers to adjust to changing market conditions. Airlines will continue to make the most of opportunities arising from emerging economies without neglecting their mature markets, which are expected to grow at a slower pace.

Increased air traffic will translate into operating efficiencies at the carrier level—such as right-sizing aircraft capacity to fit the market (e.g., larger planes for larger volumes), modernizing fleets with more fuel-efficient aircraft and possible substitution of smaller regional jets with more fuel-efficient large turboprop aircraft. It will also promote the establishment of a greater number of Open-Sky air service agreements, as encouraged in Canada's Blue Sky Policy (see Section 6.4).

Demand for international air transportation will be driven by a number of factors, including increased international business ties, greater desire by Canadians to explore the world and improvements in the Canadian tourism offer. However, one important factor remains immigration, which is a strong contributor to air transportation as it creates a new market for visiting relatives and friends. These types of travel are particularly significant in markets with large immigrant populations, such as Canada-India or Canada-Morocco. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, nearly half of Canadians aged 15 and over will be foreign born, or will have at least one foreign-born parent, up from 39% in 2006.2 This is expected to create additional demand for air travel to Southeast Asia, China and the Maghreb countries from where this influx of new Canadians is expected to originate.

Between 2012 and 2025, the total number of passengers carried by the Canadian air transport industry is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 3%, driven by strong growth in overseas flights—particularly to China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies. The average aircraft size for Canadian carriers is expected to climb from today's 74 seats to 95 seats by 2025, driven in part by the replacement of Air Canada's B-767 with the B-787 and Westjet purchase of 20 to 45 new Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft. However, increased demand will exceed the additional capacity provided by larger aircraft, translating into a predicted annual increase in aircraft movements of more than 1% per year on average over the next 20 years. Growth in the industry must be fully managed to ensure no increased exposure to accident risk.

Cross-border passenger traffic should experience an increase in volume as both Canada and the United States work on facilitating passenger movement through the use of enhanced driver's licences that permit drivers to cross the border, programs such as NEXUS for frequent travellers, and customs pre-clearance of passengers across all modes.

Perspectives on Economic Framework policies

Transportation Policy in Germany

While Canada addresses its future policy challenges, other countries are refocusing their national transportation policy and can inspire more actions to ensure the competitiveness and responsiveness of Canada' transportation system. Interesting parallels can be drawn between Germany and Canada: while Germany's economy is more than twice the size of Canada's and tends to do its utmost to seek a compromise between state intervention and a market economy, just like Canada, it is an export-focused nation strategically located at the heart of a large consumer market. 

In November 2005, the German Federal Government agreed to continue consolidating Germany's leading position as a logistics hub, promoting Germany's competitive advantage, and improving the efficiency of the transportation network. Following this, the Federal Minister of Transportation developed the Freight Transportation and Logistics Master Plan by means of a broad consultative dialogue involving more than 700 participants, including all levels of government and the European Union. This led to the publication of the 2008 Freight Transport and Logistics Master Plan, which brought forward the 2010 Action Plan.

Some of the issues brought to the forefront by Germany's plans include developing a port and airports strategy, marketing Germany's competitive advantages, encouraging a shift from trucking to rail and inland marine, segregating passenger and freight traffic, optimizing infrastructure use, developing urban logistics initiatives, fostering training and good working conditions, and ensuring that freight transportation is done in an environmentally responsible manner.

In spite of the significant differences between Canada's and Germany's transportation system, the nature of their trade, and the solutions advocated or put forth by each country, there are also numerous parallels in the issues facing each, especially with respect to efficiency, environmental sustainability and in positioning each country as an important logistics hub in the global value chain.

In November 2006, Advantage Canada—a federal government plan to help Canadians build a strong economy—comprised a transportation infrastructure component designed to create modern, world-class infrastructure to ensure the seamless flow of people, goods and services across roads and bridges, through ports and gateways, and via public transit. In the same period the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative was launched as the first application of the national policy framework for strategic gateways and trade corridors. This framework—as well as other efforts on the part of Transport Canada to maintain a modern policy framework and articulate a national transportation vision with its partners—underline Canada's desire to ensure its transportation system keeps pace with the global economy and plays its critical role in moving passengers and goods in an efficient, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable manner. Much like Germany, Canada has determined that it cannot remain complacent if it wishes to prosper and has taken tangible steps to evolve its transportation policy and infrastructure.

Within the global marketplace, an integrated, efficient, clean, safe and secure transportation system will remain a significant competitive factor, helping create jobs, stimulating economic activity and investment, and improving quality of life for Canadians over the next decade and beyond. Canada's gateway strategy has been conducive to the adoption of a ‘transportation system' perspective instead of a modal one. Meeting the challenges of the 21st century will require sustaining such a perspective as well as integrating more effectively transportation-related priorities across levels of government.

In the past several years, Canada's perspective on transportation has shifted from an emphasis on each of the four modes—air, rail, marine and road—to a horizontal and holistic ‘system-wide' view, following freight and passengers end to end through increasingly seamless connections. That view will be important to meeting the challenges of the 21st century, as will the further integration of transportation-related priorities within all levels of government. Taking an operational approach (which looks at end-to-end supply chains and cost internalization) rather than one focused on simply expanding the system seems to be a practical way forward. As well, decision-making processes may have to be revisited to allow for faster responses to change as it occurs.

Global integration compels governments to take new or different policy approaches. For Transport Canada, this means helping ensure that Canada's transportation system is safe and secure, with policies that are framed around a seamless integration with global transportation networks. Transport Canada's role also comes into play in relation to the efficiency and environmental performance of the national transportation system, which is instrumental in supporting the country's socio-economic agenda.

Global economic uncertainty, an accelerating pace of technological changes, plus real and perceived security risks are going to provide challenges for strategic investment decisions. In addition, many developed economies are facing fiscal constraints that limit their flexibility. Yet in this environment, Canada must target transparency, predictability and stability in its policies and regulations to enjoy competitive advantages and to become more attractive to foreign investors. Government policies, legislation and regulations (at all levels) will have to respond to medium- to long-term changes in origins/destination of both freight and passenger international traffic—with a likely focus on market forces and user-pay principles as well as transportation system integration.

For Canada's transportation system to remain efficient, clean, safe and secure, public and private transportation stakeholders must continue to work together effectively and transparently—coordinating their respective activities based on sound analysis, exchange of information, open communication and effective collaboration.

Perspectives on environmental policies

Between 1990 and 2008, total transportation GHG emissions grew at an average of 1.9% per year, or 40% overall, from 122 Mt to 171 Mt of CO2 . During the 1990–1999 period, GHG emissions grew by 19%, compared to 16% during the 2000–2009 period. Transportation GHG emissions are expected to continue to grow but at a slower pace—an average of 0.5% per year. In a case like this, transportation GHG emissions would go from 171 Mt of CO2 in 2008 to 180 Mt of CO2 in 2020, a growth expected to come mainly from a 17% and 31% increase respectively in freight trucking and air passenger activities' GHG emissions, assuming continued fossil fuel energy use by both modes.

Table 12.1
Canadian Trends in Transportation Sector Air Pollutant Emissions (1990–2009)

Criteria Air Contaminant ( CAC ) Transportation Share of Total Emissions (2009) Percentage Change in transportation-
Including ONS Excluding ONS
Fine Particulate Matter ( PM 2.5) 5% 24% -35%
Sulphur Oxides ( SOx ) 6% 6% -48%
Nitrogen Oxide ( NOx ) 52% 56% -27%
Volatile Organic Compounds ( VOC ) 2% 29% -48%
Carbon Monoxide (CO) 68% 75% -44%
Source: Environment Canada, 2011, National Pollutant Release Inventory.

In 2009, excluding emissions from open and natural sources ( ONS ) such as emissions released from wildfire or dust from construction activities and unpaved roads, the transportation sector accounts for 75% of total carbon monoxide ( CO ) emissions, 56% of nitrous oxide ( NOx ) emissions, 24% of fine particulate matter ( PM 2.5) emissions, 6% of sulphur oxide ( SOx ), and 29% of volatile organic compounds ( VOC ) emissions.

All transportation-related air pollutant emissions fell over the 1990–2009 period, as illustrated in Table 12.1. Between 1990 and 2009, there was an overall decrease in the amount of air pollutant emissions from the transportation sector. Specifically, fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions declined by 35% and 27%, respectively. As well, sulphur oxide, VOC s and carbon monoxide all decreased by approximately 45%.

Perspectives on safety policies

Canada has experienced a decade of decreasing accident rates across all modes, as shown in Table S1. Expected future traffic growth in the transportation industry could increase the risks of accidents and incidents, which will require intensified efforts to improve safety in order to maintain Canada's enviable low accident rate. To do so, Transport Canada has to improve its understanding of risks and causes of accidents. Such knowledge will lead to improved surveillance programs tailored to pre-identified company risk factors.

Transport Canada must continuously strengthen its SMS ( SMS ) with lessons learned, feedback from front-line inspectors, updates of SMS guidance material, inspector training tied to surveillance procedures, and information sessions across Canada on SMS implementation and regulatory obligations. SMS is a key to the robustness of Canada's transportation safety regime.

To date, Canada's largest air passenger carriers and certified Canadian Air Navigation Service providers have completed SMS implementation, as explained in Section 6.6. Canadian airports are expected to have completed implementation by the end of 2012. With SMS in all regulated civil aviation organizations, the emphasis will shift from adoption to refinement and ongoing improvements.

It will remain important for Transport Canada's transportation safety program to stay aligned with those of its trading partners and with international transportation standards in keeping with technological advances. Because aviation and marine safety goes beyond Canada's borders—as do rail and road transportation safety—Canada must continue to engage in bilateral, trilateral (Canada/USA/Mexico) and multilateral discussions with other transportation authorities. Transport Canada must also continue to actively participate in processes seeking harmonized transportation standards and regulations—including for the global aviation and marine communities—and leverage knowledge and expertise to influence and advance worldwide aviation and marine safety while further solidifying the country's place as a transportation safety leader. Bilateral/trilateral continental road and rail safety agreements are also to be pursued.

Safety Management Systems

Since the 1940s, technological improvements have contributed to the steady decrease in accident rates. The majority of today's accidents are attributed to human or organizational factors. Strengthening the safety culture within aviation organizations represents the future focus of accident prevention in aviation. SMS offers the most promising means of reducing risks generated by human and organizational factors.

Perspectives on security policies

Transportation systems will remain key targets for terrorist and extremist groups due to the potential for both mass casualties and economic, psychological and political disruption. Terrorist groups are generally displaying patience and determination in their operational planning, with attempted attacks around the world over the past five years illustrating continued efforts to defeat or bypass transportation security regimes.

Transportation security technology and methodologies must continuously evolve, primarily in response to terrorist plots. Each time a change is introduced, new training for security inspectors and—in some cases—a new regulatory approach is required. Transport Canada will have to develop formal and structured curricula with increased focus on on-the-job training in a less prescriptive regulatory environment and with risk-based oversight. The education approach has to be structurally cost-efficient, integrated and innovative, and must balance the need for traditional in-class training with virtual classrooms and e-learning.

Security in the aviation sector in particular has advanced with the application of new technologies, coupled with evolution in training and heightened use of threat-risk analyses to identify priority areas. Since 2009, the majority of threats to surface transportation have been experienced in high conflict zones or areas of civil unrest, with some one-off exceptions that do not demonstrate a continued pattern.

The Beyond the Border declaration and action plan is expected to change the way security impacts transportation operators when moving goods across the Canada-U.S. border. For instance, an integrated cargo security strategy with common standards for screening inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America is under development under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice”. This will allow the same cargo transported by rail or truck to be given accelerated passage across the land border, streamlining and simplifying border and security processes and reducing the burden on industry.

Where Canada plays host to major international events, additional measures to reinforce the security of Canada's transportation system are required. Transport Canada, in concert with the RCMP , local law enforcement and other strategic partners, took steps to enhance transportation safety and security for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and for the 2010 G8/G20 Summits held in Canada; the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto will likely require the same. To prepare for such events as well as other security-related emergencies or scenarios, Transport Canada conducts and participates in international, whole-of-government, departmental and industry-led exercises on air, marine and surface security, ensuring that all stakeholders are ready to respond to emergency situations affecting Canada's national transportation system.

12.3 Domestic pressures

Although globalization has undeniable impacts on transportation in Canada, there are a number of significant domestic challenges as well. This sub-section examines some of these and their implications for domestic demand and supply of transportation services.


A number of demographic trends with transport ramifications are expected to continue in coming years, including the ageing and increasing urbanization of Canada's population.

The ageing population—a worldwide trend—has also established itself in Canada. The proportion of Canadians 65 years and over will increase substantially, not slowing down until some time between 2036 and 2056. The country's demographic trends are likely to increase passenger traffic, with intra-urban travel in large metropolitan areas topping the list of transportation challenges, and accessibility a key consideration given the ageing population. According to Industry Canada forecasts for the Canadian tourism sector, total arrivals in Canada by all modes of transportation are expected to increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020, while travel by seniors (those 65 and over) during the same period is expected to increase by 45%—an increase from 19% to 23% of the total number of travellers entering Canada.

The propensity to travel differs by age but is highly correlated with financial situation and the availability of leisure time. Consequently, the senior and baby boomer populations are an increasing market for the tourism industry. While the inclination to travel changes with age, distance travelled and destination choice, it also varies by age cohorts, with younger generations often choosing to travel longer distances and older generations mixing both short and long-haul travel. Evidence suggests that the coming generation of Canadian seniors will be healthier, wealthier, more independent, better educated, and more active than preceding generations. Consequently, the seniors' share of travel is expected to increase in coming years.

Demographic information shows a positive relationship between ageing and the incidence of disability. Disability implies special transportation-related needs depending on the nature of the disability; e.g., hearing, vision, speech or mobility. As mobility impairment increases with age, Canada's ageing population increases demand for accessible transportation services. In 2006, 4.4 million Canadians (14.3%) reported having a disability, including hearing, vision, speech, learning and mobility disabilities. Of seniors, 1.7 million (43.4%) reported having a disability, with mobility, hearing and vision impairments being the most prevalent; this increases to 53.3% for persons 75 and over.

Statistics like these are not unique to Canada. The United Nations has projected that the number of people 65 and older worldwide will increase from 420 million in 2005 to 835 million by 2025. By 2050, it is projected that there will be almost 2 billion people 60 years and older, or about 22% of the population (United Nations). Because mobility impairment increases with age and the Canadian population will age dramatically over the next 20 years, a significant increase in the demand for accessible transportation can be expected. Disability rates for persons aged 65 and over are three to five times higher than those 25 to 54.

Mobility will be more important to Canadians aged 65 and over. As their numbers increase, adjustments will be required to transportation infrastructure and related services to compensate. Wealthy and healthy seniors expect to travel not only to access activities and social services locally, but to make longer trips to visit family and friends, and to travel for pleasure both domestically and internationally.

While Canada's population growth has remained steady since the 1980s, around 1.1% per year, this population growth is highly concentrated in certain regions, and more specifically in the largest metropolitan areas, which is already resulting in intra-metropolitan transportation bottlenecks. These challenges will remain and will need to be addressed, as urbanization will intensify in the future. This may translate into increasing demand for accessible transportation services, accommodating mobility-impairment adjustments to transportation infrastructure and services, addressing intra-metropolitan transportation bottlenecks, and working with industry stakeholders to develop strategies to attract and retain employees in transport-related job opportunities. These demographic-driven pressures will take place in an upcoming period of uncertain economic times and restrained public expenditures.

Transportation workforce and expertise

The demographic outlook highlighted above will also impact the human resource availability of transportation activities and operations. As the population ages and an increased portion of today's workers retire, there will be a smaller supply of skilled professionals to take their place. As well, many prominent Canadian university researchers and professors in the transportation field are approaching retirement, which has potential implications beyond the university setting given the importance of academic research to innovation and the training of new transportation professionals.

University-level transportation programs may have difficulty attracting students as these programs are scattered widely across a few institutions competing to win enrolments, graduate students and funding. In some regions, the effects of this have been mitigated successfully by establishing collaborative research networks or clusters. This is the case with aerospace in Quebec, automotive in south-western Ontario, and marine on the east and west coasts. Some of the more successful research models also involve partnerships with industry or local governments, maximizing available expertise and ensuring the practical application of research results.

Traditional transportation careers, particularly at the technical level, have lost some of their appeal among younger generations, making it a challenge for employers to attract and retain new skilled employees. Upgrading the skills of current workers is also a higher-profile concern today than in the past due to the pace of technological change and new specializations in information and communication technologies necessary for efficient transportation. For some transportation undertakings, the flexibility and foresight to embrace change and the anticipated large-scale exodus of workers into retirement present a unique opportunity to replace a portion of the transportation workforce with technology and focus on innovation to achieve productivity improvements.

Energy supply and use in transportation

The planet's large and growing population is placing greater pressures on limited energy resources for transportation. Transportation demand for energy, specifically, will continue to be met largely by fossil fuels in the mid-term, and likely at greater cost. All modes of transportation in Canada are highly dependent on petroleum-derived fuels and will need significant technological breakthroughs to reduce consumption.

Energy has environmental consequences, and also creates equity issues. In the context of foreseeable energy price increases, the most disadvantaged—both those dependent on automobiles and those who do not have vehicles of their own—may see their mobility and accessibility limited as higher energy costs translate into higher transportation costs and product prices.

Public and international pressure to minimize the environmental impact of economic activity and promote clean air and clean energy agendas, coupled with escalating conventional energy prices, will help drive the development of alternative energy sources including wind, hydrogen cells, solar and bio-fuels. Continued advances in technologies will be critical to boost future fuel efficiency and energy production levels.

On the energy supply side, Canada will not be exempt from the pressures to exploit oil and gas found in remote and challenging environments, including the complex Arctic area. Projects such as the Northern Gateway pipeline project will increase maritime traffic and may put additional pressures on the regime for responding to oil spills.

Transportation infrastructure

Ageing transportation infrastructure will remain an issue, as maintenance and upgrades are costly; however, short-term decisions to defer maintenance translate into greater rehabilitation costs in the future.

Some economically positive decisions can add to the pressure on Canada's transportation infrastructure, as is the case in the 2011 federal government decision to award a $25-billion shipbuilding contract to Irving Shipbuilding Inc. of Halifax for the construction of new navy and coast guard vessels over the next 20 to 30 years. The project's economic benefits for Nova Scotia are undeniable, but the scope of work will stress the existing transportation infrastructure in terms of moving materials, equipment and workers to and from the shipyard in downtown Halifax. At the same time, the project will provide an opportunity to address some of the supply chain imbalances in the region, where, traditionally, outbound volumes far exceed inbound volumes.

Infrastructure issues span the range of transportation modes and services. Public transit will face challenges directly associated with ridership and funding. For rail freight, despite recent investments by the private sector, capacity is often limited, particularly in Western Canada. Commercialization and privatization of the aviation sector have resulted in significant investments funded by users.

Canada's road network faces many challenges—some due to the country's extensive land mass, harsh climate conditions, high degree of urbanization and dependence on trade, while others are more universal, such as ageing infrastructure, fiscal constraints, safety concerns and environmental considerations. These will continue to pressure governments to invest in Canada's roads; however, the public sector fiscal constraints will require new and innovative approaches to road infrastructure financing. Some solutions that may warrant further investigation and that are already being used to a limited degree include tolls (see Addendum Table RO2A) and other user-pay mechanisms, public-private partnerships for building and operating infrastructure, and potential efficiency gains through the use of technology and intelligent transportation systems. Also, innovation in transportation finance leading to wiser investments and potentially to more direct user charges may emerge. This will orient consumers and commercial organizations toward choosing the most cost-effective means of transportation in any given case.

The need for infrastructure funding conflicts with limited public funding. The stifling effects of the recent recession and financial crises among heavily indebted governments at all levels have contributed to a financial-risk-averse environment. As well, with spending curtailed, competition for funding among the various other sources of public spending is increasing—health and education being two primary examples.

The challenges identified above have implications for major initiatives such as developing Canada's North. The various levels of Canadian government may have to assume a share of the risks if they hope to harness that region's resource potential. This could mean making strategic decisions on the use of available resources, both public and private.

Sustainable transportation

Sustainable transportation will be a particular challenge in the coming years, and internalization of costs will become increasingly important. Transportation costs will have to take into account the social impact of transportation, which may favour some modes over others. User pay principles could be expanded beyond the financial cost to look at important social costs, such as safety and air, water and soil pollution.

Sustainable transportation also requires users to rethink their modal choices, favouring public transit, carpooling and active transportation over single occupancy car commuting, and by turning to greener and more energy-efficient supply chains.

Transport Canada together with a federal-provincial task force conducted extensive research on cost internalization through its Full Cost of Transportation study.

The consistent and rigorous Estimates of the Full Cost of Transportation in Canada (i.e., the financial and social costs of transportation), were released in 2008 (see Table 12.2). Financial costs include infrastructure capital and operating expenses, as well as vehicle and carrier capital and operating costs.

The full cost of transportation in Canada estimated for the study's base year (2000) totalled $216.4 billion, which included $184.4 billion (85%) in financial costs, with the remaining 15% being social costs (see Table 12.2). The five social costs ranked as follows: accidents, air pollution, congestion, GHG emissions and noise.

Air pollution costs were the highest, representing 18% of social costs, followed by GHG costs at 14%. The road mode had the largest share of both costs at 82% and 80% respectively.

Despite its limitations, the analytical tool allows a more comprehensive and compete way to compare costs of transportation activities across modes. It can be useful in a context where sustainable transportation considerations and user-pay principles are used to to guide decisions.

Table 12.2
Full Cost Estimates by Modal Sub-activities in Billions (based on the 2000 dollar)

Mode Financial Costs Social Costs Full Costs Share of
Social Costs
Intercity Passengers
Light Road Vehicles 31.17 10.21 41.38 25%
Coach 0.86 0.05 0.91 5%
Rail 0.41 0.02 0.43 4%
Marine 0.62 0.05 0.67 7%
Air 14.65 0.58 15.24 4%
Sub-Total 47.71 10.92 58.63 19%
Local Passengers
Light Road Vehicles 68.66 13.04 81.69 16%
School Bus 2.82 0.13 2.95 4%
Urban Bus 3.01 0.07 3.08 2%
Local Rail 1.94 0.01 1.95 1%
Sub-Total 76.43 13.25 89.68 15%
Truck 49.83 4.01 53.84 7%
Rail 6.73 0.9 7.63 12%
Marine 2.41 0.78 3.19 24%
Air 1.24 0.03 1.27 3%
Sub-Total 60.21 5.72 65.94 9%
Unallocated 0.01 2.1 2.11 99%
Total 184.36 32 216.36 15%
Source: Full Cost Investigation of Transportation in Canada Synthesis Report, 2008

The future development potential of the North and transportation

Emerging economies are putting added pressure on the world's renewable and non-renewable resources—a trend that will sustain growth in resource-rich countries like Canada. The resource potential of Canada's Arctic, despite the challenges it presents, could be developed sooner under favourable world prices of resources. Such a development comes with its own new transportation needs and requirements, and with its practical challenges associated with northern realities. In many cases, it enriches the paradigm of northern freight transportation by adding the movement of extracted resources to markets in the south. However, the nature of the goods involved; heavy bulk commodities as opposed to light; possibly time-sensitive, finished goods; as well as the distance between existing Northern communities and resource extraction sites may lead to the establishment of parallel north-bound and south-bound supply chains, each tailored to meet specific and challenging needs.

Climate change presents both challenges and opportunities for Canada's northern transportation system. Degraded permafrost, melting ice caps and a shorter ice-road season all affect transportation infrastructure and operations. By the same token, a warmer climate provides opportunities for increased socio-economic development and associated transportation activity.

Permafrost degradation has a particularly significant impact. Airstrips, roads and railways, once thought to be robust and secure, are becoming unstable and unreliable. Not only must significant repair and maintenance costs be incurred, but other forms of economic development reliant on the transportation system are hindered.

Northern waters have become increasingly active in recent years. As communities expand due to growing demographics and as resource projects are developed, marine transportation in the north is likely to continue growing. Yet climate change is having an effect here, too. Milder Arctic summers are sending dangerous hard-packed multiyear ice flowing into the Arctic Ocean and into the shipping lanes of the Canadian archipelago. With more traffic in those lanes, there could be greater incidence of marine emergencies and a greater need for adaptive technologies to ensure sustainable, safe and efficient transportation routes.

As new navigational channels open, this will create opportunities, including the development of new routes to resupply communities, transport natural resources extracted from the North to southern markets, and provide a shorter route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. However, these opportunities also introduce new risks to the transportation system, be it on the safety, security or environmental front. Increased traffic will require an examination of the current transportation infrastructure in the North. This is particularly challenging for marine navigation services and emergency and pollution-spill response. Care will need to be taken to develop precautionary measures and emergency response capabilities comparable to those currently found in southern regions.

Given the above, Transport Canada is investing in fundamental research and technology development through its new Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative. The initiative brings together key partners from federal departments, provinces and territories, and academia and industry to envision a northern transportation system that will be resilient to climate change.

This will require the appropriate authorities to understand how to manage transportation infrastructure and operations under changing climate conditions, and also requires them to have the necessary tools and technologies to apply that knowledge as well as the skilled personnel to conduct adaptive operations. As a result, the initiative partners are supporting research that will inform a better understanding of emerging climate trends and impacts, develop adaptive solutions for northern transportation infrastructure and operations, and expand knowledge of promising technologies and best practices. They aim to gather and analyze baseline data, perform vulnerability assessments, understand the mechanisms and processes through which climate impacts transportation infrastructure and operations, and develop solutions including new designs, more efficient operation and construction techniques, and new or improved innovative technologies.

Other critical aspects of the initiative are disseminating information, research results and best practices to those applying this knowledge, and supporting the development of the next generation of northern transportation experts. Over the coming years, the initiative will help ensure that Canada's North can count on and benefit from a reliable, efficient and safe transportation system for its social and economic development.

Many projects in the coming decade are expected to significantly alter Northern Canada's transportation system; some of these are at the planning stage while others are already underway. Some of these projects are presented below for illustrative purposes.

Newfoundland and Labrador's proposed development of the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project will involve the construction of two hydroelectric dams, one at Muskrat Falls and the other at Gull Island. This project could place unprecedented pressure on Labrador's transportation system and related infrastructure, in turn generating significant and sometimes critical transportation issues tied to its relatively remote and sparsely populated location. The proposed project may require new roads for moving materials to and from the site via the Port of Goose Bay. There will also be a significant increase in passenger traffic at Goose Bay airport, where operations have recently been transferred from the Department of National Defence to the Goose Bay Airport Corporation.

The proposed Mary River iron ore mining project on Baffin Island (Qikiqtani region) in Nunavut, possibly the largest mining project in Canada and one of the largest iron ore developments in the world, would involve mining, ore-crushing and screening; rail transport; port operations; and marine shipping to global markets. The project would include a 149-kilometre rail system to support the year-round transportation of ore from the mine site to port facilities at Steensby Inlet. In full operation, this project will significantly alter the transportation profile of Nunavut, creating new infrastructure and important economic spin-offs.

Quebec's Plan Nord, an initiative aimed at promoting and developing northern Quebec, was launched May 9, 2011 and is expected to continue over a 25-year period. It contains expected investments of more than $80 billion for renewable energy, mining and public infrastructure including roads, ports and airports in the northern part of the province. Plan Nord has six major public infrastructure priorities, namely:

  • the extension of highway 167 to the Otish mountains;
  • the extension of highway 138 between Kegaska and Blanc-Sablon;
  • the rebuilding of highway 389 between Baie-Comeau and Fermont;
  • studies of possible land connections between Kuujjuaq and southern Quebec;
  • studies on a deep-water port in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik and a road connection to Radisson; and
  • improvements to airports.

Besides the priorities identified by the province, several mining projects currently in the exploration phase will include the construction and relocation of railway and port infrastructures within the Plan Nord territory. For example, the exploration of an iron deposit at Otelnuk Lake between Kuujjuaq and Schefferville could lead to the construction of an approximately 800-km railway between the deposit and port of Sept-Îles. A second iron ore deposit exploration project close to the Inuit community of Aupaluk, in Nunavik, includes the construction of a port in Hopes Advance Bay. Several engineering challenges will accompany the development of infrastructure north of the 49th parallel. These improvements will also alleviate the isolation of the communities residing in this part of the province.

In March 2011, the Ontario government released its Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011, and launched a consultation process with stakeholders to identify long-term directions for transportation infrastructure and services in Northern Ontario. The intent of the consultation is to obtain views on how to address the following:

  • the growth of the transportation, aviation and aerospace industry sector in northern communities;
  • the development of a range of transportation options and investments in regional transportation links between hub communities and rural and remote communities;
  • the development of revitalization strategies for integrated public transportation systems within the core areas of the municipalities of Greater Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins;
  • the capital operating and financing needs of northern airports;
  • the enhancement of the freight and tourism potential of waterways and ports; and
  • the re-alignment of winter roads to improve remote communities' access.

Studies will review all modes to define long-term travel trends and demand forecasts, identify strategic transportation network improvements and regional economic supports, establish a coordinated investment plan, and promote integrated economic land use and transportation planning.

The Alberta oil sands play a significant role in Canada's economy as the province's total proven oil reserves, estimated at approximately 171 billion barrels—about 12% of total global oil reserves (1,469.6 billion barrels)—are critical to the world's energy future. Alberta ranks third after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in proven global crude oil reserves. Of its supply, about 99% comes from the oil sands.

The continued extraction of Alberta oil sands depends on satisfying regulatory requirements for responsible and sustainable development as well as requirements of the Navigable Waters Protection Act since that industry requires the construction of works built in, on, over, under, through or across navigable water. Transport Canada continues working with the provincial government to streamline regulatory processes related to the Navigable Waters Protection Program, and consulting with Aboriginal groups potentially affected by developments along the Athabasca River. This process includes the development of a map identifying the areas of greatest concern related to navigability.

Another prerequisite for developing the oil sands further is ensuring an adequate infrastructure to transport personnel and materials. Highway 63, a two-lane, undivided road between Edmonton and Fort McMurray, is the main route to and from the oil sands, with commuter, heavy-truck and dangerous goods traffic, and is the only arterial route to the urban service area of Fort McMurray. Highway 63 carries the highest tonnage per kilometre in Canada, and the largest and heaviest loads the country's trucks have ever carried.

Finally, there remains the challenge of bringing oil and gas from Western and Northern Canada to growing markets in the United States and China. Two oil pipeline projects and one gas pipeline project have been proposed, namely:

  • Trans-Canada's 3,456-km Keystone XL for transporting crude oil between Hardisty, Alberta and Illinois—for use in the U.S. or for delivery to overseas markets, and to deliver gas condensate3 from the port of Kitimat to Alberta;
  • Enbridge's 1,177-km Northern Gateway twin pipeline between Bruderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, British Columbia; and
  • the 1,220-km Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline between the Northwest Territories and Alberta, which was approved by the federal cabinet in March 2011

All three projects would impact the transportation system during their construction, and would allow other resources to be developed once completed—further altering the transportation landscape in Northern and Western Canada. The Northern Gateway project specifically would have important transportation implications, bringing oil and gas tankers to the port of Kitimat, markedly increasing the use of that port and potentially raising issues with navigating the Douglas Channel, which links the Pacific Ocean to the port. Both the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway projects are in the regulatory review process.

12.4 Technology and research in the pursuit of an efficient, clean, safe and secure transportation system

Technology as an enabler of a more efficient transportation system

Innovation has increasingly been recognized as an important element in stimulating long-term economic growth. However, in recent years a number of well-publicized reports by the Council of Canadian Academies and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, among others, have suggested that Canada's persistently lagging productivity growth is directly tied to weak innovation performance.

Innovation—which can be defined as new or better ways of doing valued things—plays an important role not only in strengthening Canada's long-term economic growth, but also in promoting greater competitiveness and productivity in Canada's transportation system and sector.

Transportation innovation is not a new concept; over the past twenty years, productivity gains in Canada's transportation sector have outpaced that of Canada's overall economic growth. These gains were largely driven by mode-specific, market-oriented policies and regulatory measures, such as commercialization, privatization and deregulation. However, in recent years these sector-specific productivity gains have started to tail off. The competitiveness of Canada's transportation sector is also challenged by issues such as ageing infrastructure, congestion in major cities and along trade corridors and border crossings, the rising costs of fossil fuel, security concerns, and the challenge of continuing to preserve and improve safety in spite of greater traffic volume.

To overcome these challenges and encourage productivity and competitiveness, governments, industry, and academic stakeholders are collaborating to foster greater transportation innovation, including investments in transportation-related research and development, technology development and deployment, and sharing of best practices.

Research and analysis are essential to developing future transportation policies. This is particularly true for transportation issues, in which economic, social, environmental, safety and security considerations must all be weighed. There are a number of active transportation research forums conducting leading-edge work in transportation research; amongst those is the OECD/ITF's4 Joint Transportation Research Centre ( JTRC ), of which Canada is a member. The JTRC conducts research on a variety of topics, brings together international transportation experts and contributes to the annual International Transportation Summit. The 2010 summit was presided by Canada and innovation was its theme.

Closer to home, the Canadian Transportation Research Forum promotes the development of research in transportation and related fields and provides a forum for networking and discussion. It also publishes research papers, provides opportunities to discuss transportation issues and organizes an annual conference. Finally, Transport Canada conducts numerous research projects through a variety of means, including its Transportation Development Centre or through its Socio-Economic Research Fund (see Section 5.6).

Investment in and deployment of productivity-enhancing technologies and processes have improved the performance of Canada's multimodal transportation supply chains. For example, the use of Radio Frequency Identification ( RFID ) tags and GPS/satellite tracking and monitoring technologies has proven effective in a recent China-Canada cargo container pilot project aimed at enhancing the efficiency and security of transporting goods.

Focusing on fostering greater integration of Canada's transportation system will stimulate the next generation of sector productivity gains and further improve system performance. Currently, transportation stakeholders are piloting innovative approaches to supply chain and fleet management, resulting in more efficient, reliable and lower-cost services. Moreover, network-sharing arrangements have demonstrated increased fluidity, and systematic and proactive risk-management practices.

The information technology revolution has improved the efficiency of transportation and enabled the integration of different modal activities. Potential future technological developments are unclear, but will likely focus on stresses to the system caused by economic growth and increased passenger and freight traffic, and on continued pressure to make transportation safer and more environmentally sustainable.

Intelligent Transportation Systems ( ITS ) have been instrumental in delivering major efficiency gains across all transportation modes in Canada. Such gains will continue with the ongoing growth of data flows and the proliferation of sophisticated geographic positioning tools, mobile communications and ever-greater computing power. Future ITS developments will provide transportation users and operators with reliable, accurate, timely multimodal information—about traffic, transit and parking—often through smart phones and other mobile devices. Operators will be able to manage their transportation assets holistically, and travellers will be able to make informed decisions before departing and while en route to their destinations.

In surface transportation, ITS will combine positioning systems, vehicle and infrastructure sensors, and data management processes to create transformational transportation solutions that address surface and intermodal transportation challenges while maximizing the efficiency and output of transportation infrastructure. The widespread availability of wireless communications will allow for much greater connectivity within each mode and at the interfaces between modes, allowing for more efficient movement of people and goods, complemented by further gains in safety, security and environmental performance.

Truck Reservation System at the Port of Metro Vancouver

Truck reservation systems use software and communications equipment (such as RFID tags and readers) to allow operators to schedule the arrival of trucks for container pick-up and delivery. They also track trucks, align them with their scheduled time slots, and direct them to the appropriate location within the port facility. In coming years the use of these systems is expected to grow and become more sophisticated, leveraging the capabilities and ubiquity of smart phones and other mobile devices.

The Port of Metro Vancouver has had a truck reservation system in place since 2001 at its VanTerm, Centerm and Deltaport terminals. Trucks with a reservation for a particular time slot have access to reserved gate lanes, reducing turnaround and engine-idling times. This kind of information technology systems is creating efficiency gains at modal interface facilities and generating environmental benefits.

The potential for future efficiencies also rests in the ability of ITS to facilitate integration and interoperability between jurisdictions. ‘Smart corridor' strategies are being developed and applied in Canada to examine transportation systems and achieve maximum efficiencies using existing infrastructure, minimizing the need for new capital investments. This requires stakeholders to work together to identify priorities and gaps, coordinate plans, and integrate systems.

Merging ITS with the next generation of wireless communication networks may allow tomorrow's transportation system to prevent a significant number of accidents. For example :

  • Intersection collision avoidance systems that use sensors and wireless connectivity to monitor traffic approaching dangerous intersections and warn vehicles of approaching cross traffic. In the near future these systems will warn drivers of potential dangers, such as a vehicle that is about to run a red light, or provide services such as left-turn assist.
  • Collision avoidance systems that use Wi-Fi, radar, sonar, lidar5 or other sensors to detect nearby vehicles and potential roadway hazards and alert drivers so they can take corrective action. Some systems could also take proactive measures to avoid or mitigate the severity of a collision, including providing automated braking assistance and engaging vehicle stability control systems.
  • Pedestrian detection systems using wireless connectivity, radar sensors and/or cameras that detect people in front of a vehicle, warn if anyone walks out into its path and then automatically activate the brakes if the driver fails to respond in time.

Other possible applications of ITS include lane departure warning systems, drowsy-driver detection systems, wildlife detection systems and road weather sensors.

Advances in communication technologies will also improve safety in relation to railway-roadway grade crossings, with the development of low-cost grade crossing warning systems based on wireless wheel sensors. These will also permit remote monitoring of the physical condition of infrastructure and structural health of bridges.

Efficiencies will also come from the explosion of user-generated non-profit content and collaboration made possible by increases in data availability and accessibility. For instance, fuelled by streams of “open data”, individual programmers have created many successful transportation-related apps (applications) for smart phones, providing travellers with more accurate, real-time information. This trend is already underway, and will permit the development of efficiency-enhancing applications at a relatively low cost.

In aviation, advances in engine technology, efficiency gains in air navigation, and the use of lighter materials in airframes have significantly reduced the fuel burn of modern aircraft on a passenger-kilometre basis. These changes have been driven by a desire to reduce both aviation's carbon footprint as well as costs, as fuel is often an air carrier's greatest expense. Adopting such new technology for a carrier means reducing its fuel consumption, which is exactly what Air Canada hopes to achieve when it starts receiving in 2014 its 37 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft purchased for long-haul flights. Many airlines are expected to replace regional jets with more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Bombardier Q-400 turboprop—a trend that will likely continue in the future.

New or re-engined6 aircraft such as the Bombardier C-Series, the Airbus A-320neo and the Boeing B-737Max promise to deliver significant fuel-burn reductions. Evolution of drag-reducing wingtip devices such as winglets, sharklets and raked wing tips also help. Many older aircraft, particularly Boeing B-737s, B-757s and B-767s, are now retrofitted with blended wingtips to improve fuel efficiency.

Finally, operational changes such as the use of satellite-based navigation, more efficient take-off and landing procedures (e.g., continuous descent7) and the possible introduction of electrical taxiing8 are further examples of how technology may help the aviation sector reduce its carbon footprint.

Technology as an enabler of a more sustainable transportation system

Governments (federal, provincial/territorial, municipal), academic researchers and industry will continue to work together to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on the transportation system, and to assess different options and strategies to address the impacts. Technology has a clear role to play in enabling sustainable transportation.

In 2010, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment agreed to move forward with a new national approach to air management: the Air Quality Management System ( AQMS ). This federal-provincial initiative will establish regionally coordinated air sheds and air zones within individual provinces and territories, and use coordinated mechanisms across federal and provincial environment, transport and energy ministries to address transportation emissions. Under the auspices of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety, federal, provincial and territorial transport ministries are collaborating to advance a national vision for transportation to 2030 that includes advancing sustainable transportation issues and understanding air emissions issues and challenges in a national context.

In 2011, the Government of Canada approved a new suite of initiatives to follow the 2007–2011 Clean Air Agenda. The new initiatives support the government's commitment to pursuing a balanced approach in reducing emissions, which recognizes the importance of greening the economy for tomorrow and protecting jobs today. Specific to transportation, the new initiatives cut across numerous federal departments and organizations, including Transport Canada and Environment Canada. They use regulations to meet existing emission-reduction commitments (for example, GHG emission regulations for light- and heavy-duty road vehicles) and set targets for the adoption of clean technologies and practices.

Embedded in all of this is a new approach to addressing transportation-related emissions that focuses on encouraging technology uptake. Targeted incentives will accelerate technology deployment to address emissions sources that fall under federal jurisdiction (e.g., ports, interprovincial and international shipping). These incentives will aim to balance and optimize the environmental, safety and economic performance of the Canadian transportation system.

In addition to Transport Canada and Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada will also be involved in transportation initiatives, promoting the sustainable development and use of the country's energy supply. Elements of its Vehicle Efficiency Program will be supported by clean transportation initiatives (e.g., consumer awareness, labelling and Smart Way Partnerships9). Natural Resources Canada's research and development initiatives for pre-commercial on-road innovations will complement Transport Canada's commercial-stage vehicle technology proposals.

One-way regulations are expected to generate environmental benefits and reduce fuel use and emissions is by accelerating technological change. This will require Canada's current vehicle safety approach to become more proactive, streamlined and targeted. Identifying environmental benefits and potential safety risks earlier in the development of new vehicle technologies facilitates the safe, cost-effective introduction of advanced vehicle technologies in Canada.

Transport Canada's Transportation Development Centre conducts research and development in support of the government's Clean Air Regulatory Agenda. Its projects include initiatives to develop regulations and technologies increasing Canadian rail network capacity, and to ensure regulatory compliance. Its five rail-related research and development areas are: locomotive systems, data management, infrastructure, railcars and fuels. The Centre is also engaged in marine-related R&D , with emissions inventories, emission control, improved energy use, alternative fuels/power systems and ice navigation being its main focus.

Technology as an enabler of a safer transportation system

Important changes will be made in the coming years to the regulatory framework governing transportation safety in Canada. Changes will account for stakeholder inputs, streamlining and simplifying regulatory burdens on companies and resorting to regulation only when no other means is feasible. Performance-based rather than prescriptive regulatory frameworks will prevail. SMS are an example of regulated entities' greater role in ensuring desired regulatory outcomes, and they offer the potential to further entrench a strong safety culture within the stakeholder community. It is an approach aligned with Cabinet Directives on Streamlining Regulations10 and the Red Tape Reduction Commission.

Innovation and rapidly evolving transportation equipment technologies have been and will continue to be instrumental to safety and emissions improvements. Traditional engineering and safety/environmental standards have focused on vehicles/equipment. On the safety side, emphasis has been placed on avoiding accidents altogether. In road vehicles, advanced in-vehicle systems that use sensors and complex signal processing to detect and evaluate hazards in the road traffic environment are already on the market (e.g., automatic collision-warning and braking systems).

Because transportation equipment industry manufacturers see competitive advantages in offering increasingly sophisticated systems to achieve higher levels of safety, the systems being developed will have to be assessed in terms of their impact on transportation operations and their actual impact on safety. For example, the availability of wireless communications combined with the emergence of increasingly powerful and more affordable mobile devices in use within automobiles will remain under the scrutiny of transportation safety.

The transportation system of the future will be tied to multi-modal information systems. Advanced ITS developments may well be at the forefront of profound transportation safety improvement aimed at reducing the number of annual road accidents.

With expected increases in northern economic activities over the coming years, the safety of transportation activities in the Arctic will receive special attention. The First Air accident on August 20, 2011 near Resolute Bay was a stark reminder of the challenges related to mounting search and rescue operations in Northern Canada, even when cold temperatures are not a factor. With respect to marine transportation, Arctic shipping is growing rapidly with the opening of the Arctic due to climate change, and marine safety issues are bound to gain importance as traffic increases. Transport Canada will continue to monitor proposed and actual changes to shipping patterns in that part of the country, with special attention on the Northern passageway.

Global interest in Arctic resources—including minerals, oil and gas—is intensifying. Greater activity in the Arctic will create security issues for the Canadian government and international maritime shipping community. The potential increase in the shipping required for resource exploitation in the Arctic, as well as an increase in cruise ship traffic, may impact the environment and existing infrastructure and communities. The Canadian government is working toward a coordinated strategy to strengthen transportation links to and within the North, including improved infrastructure to support social and economic development and enhance Canada's security and sovereignty.

Technology as an enabler of a more secure transportation system

A new generation of transportation security equipment has or will soon be introduced, driven by changing security needs and threats and by technological innovations that improve threat detection. Another emerging development is the networking of security equipment, which enables the remote screening of passengers and baggage from a centralized location. From a security perspective, this arrangement has many advantages and provides a great deal of operational flexibility.

Improving screening and developing smarter approaches is an ongoing security task. This involves no change to Canada's common security standards, but rather has more to do with learning from experience and applying these lessons to the entire screening process. Moving away from a “one-size fits all” model of screening is one such approach, allowing more screening resources to be devoted to higher-risk individuals/situations. This requires revisiting and updating prohibited items lists and harmonizing them with those of the rest of the world.

One of the biggest changes to security screening equipment recently was the introduction of full-body scanners, which work by projecting low-level millimetre wave radio frequency energy over and around the passenger's body. The radio frequency wave is reflected back from the body and signals are recovered using highly sensitive detectors, which are then processed and converted to digital format to produce a three-dimensional image, revealing objects concealed on the body. Its positive evaluation on a trial basis in early 2009 at Kelowna B.C airport—as well as a failed terrorist attack—led the government to proceed with deployment of this technology at 20 Canadian airports, making it part of Canada's aviation security screening system. The entire scan process takes about five seconds and meets all regulated health and safety requirements.

New full-body scanning technologies will be further developed and equipped with advanced auto-detection software. Current designs are essentially based on two different design concepts: x-ray backscatter and millimetre wave. Due to health regulations, many jurisdictions restrict the body scanning process to millimetre wave systems only. For that reason, this latter system may witness a greater development in the near future.

Another technology trend in the field of aviation security is the introduction of improved x-ray technology that provides multiple views and significantly better images, allowing operators to detect prohibited items in carry-on bags in a more efficient and timely manner.

Finally, air cargo security has been receiving additional attention due to the $95.7 million dedicated to air cargo security over five years within Budget 2010. As part of this program, new technologies (e.g., x-ray, explosive trace detection) are introduced for screening air cargo and then adapted to the different sizes, contents and packaging that are prevalent in that segment of the air transport industry.

NEXUS11 lines are already operating in all eight major international Canadian airports at domestic and select international checkpoints. Passengers travelling to the U.S. will soon be able to use NEXUS cards as well as dedicated lines to be screened faster at Canada's largest airports (Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver). The Government of Canada will work closely with airport authorities to start fully implementing this service in 2012.

The Aviation Security Regulatory Review will be pursued in coming years to renew the security regulatory framework for all air transportation industry stakeholders and carriers. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority ( CATSA ) and other aviation service providers will work closely with industry to understand and minimize the regulatory burden while promoting further harmonization of the regulations with international standards.

Transportation security practices will continue to mature and adapt to a dynamic context, the complexity of technology, increased operations and globalization, as there is a need to apply modern security practices. Because there will always be hazards, risks and threats, Transport Canada is committed to and supports a more comprehensive approach—the use of security management throughout the transportation system—under a policy framework that makes the industry accountable for systematically and proactively managing risks and threats within their transportation activities. This is done through formal frameworks designed to integrate security into the daily operations of a transportation enterprise, combining a variety of processes that interact to achieve the overall goal of managing risks and threats. This type of approach has been successfully taken in the rail and urban transit sector.

Transportation operators are advancing their own security culture and implementing security measures to address specific needs without undue interference to the efficiency of their system. Security is a reality of the modern environment, and transportation operators are increasingly enhancing their security cultures and adopting security measures as a matter of good business, rather than because they are imposed by regulatory requirements. With respect to the transportation of dangerous goods by road and rail, Transport Canada has been conducting risk-based analyses to determine the best approach for enhancing security by using a multi-phased policy development process that includes an environmental scan, consultations and information gathering; a strategic security-risk assessment; and an evaluation of potential policy options. The process includes consultations with industry, other federal government departments and provincial representatives.

12.5 Conclusions

This chapter has touched on a great number of issues, both global and local, that will mould the evolution of Canada's transportation system in the coming years. Not only is demand for passenger and freight services shifting, but the manner in which transportation services are delivered will also have to evolve, be it through more accessible passenger transportation, better integrated freight supply chains, more sustainable transportation or a continued emphasis on safety and security.

For passenger and freight transport, future challenges are expected to come in part from significant changes in the origins and destinations of international freight and passenger traffic to and from Canada. A modern, flexible policy and regulatory framework coupled with continued progress on the technology and research front, innovative funding models, and cooperation across governments and between the public and private sectors will be key to successfully addressing these challenges.



  1. A type of joint marketing effort by either airlines or shipping lines.
  2. See
  3. Gas condensate is a diluent that reduces the viscosity of crude oil, making it easier to transport by pipeline.
  4. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/International Transportation Forum
  5. Light Detection and Ranging. It operates on the same principles as radar, but using light (or a laser) rather than radio waves.
  6. Using a new technology engine on an existing aircraft.
  7. As opposed to the current practice of a step-down approach.
  8. Taxiing refers to aircraft moving on the ground and on its own power.
  9. A voluntary partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, shippers and freight companies where the other two commit to benchmark operations, track fuel consumption and improve environmental performance annually.
  11. NEXUS is joint program between the Canada Border Services Agency ( CBSA ) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ( CBP ) to expedite the border clearance process for pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States. Participants in this voluntary program receive a NEXUS card, which identifies them as low-risk travellers and allows them to use NEXUS priority lanes at certain border crossings.