Managing the program lifecycle in Transport Canada’s Safety and Security Group


This report gives you an overview of the program lifecycle and explains how Transport Canada uses different methods, including designing and delivering programs, to address risks and issues in Canada's transportation system.

More specifically for the Safety and Security Group, this document will give you an idea of how to manage this lifecycle, while also supporting the department's transformation.

Transport Canada's Transformation Initiative

Infographic. See long description below.
5 Pillars of Transformation
Long description
  • Intelligent Policies and Programs
  • Transparency and Public Trust
  • Modern, Inclusive Workforce
  • Data-Driven Decisions
  • Service Innovation

The department has launched a project known as the Transport Canada Transformation Initiative. This transformation initiative will modernize how we deliver on our main responsibilities by being:

  • more active in our responses to demands
  • smarter in giving our workers the tools to make good decisions, that are driven by data
  • more trustworthy because we're open and honest in the way that we deliver our programs and services

The five pillars of transformation  

The foundations and goals of our transformation initiative are:

Transparency and public trust

Help the department be more open to the public and develop activities that better respond to stakeholders' needs.

Service innovation

Increase how effective our services are by making them more:

  • user-friendly
  • digital
  • integrated
  • financially sustainable

This helps make sure that our services respond to changing technologies and the demands of Canadians.

Data-driven decisions

Help make more policy, program, service and corporate decisions based on data. We will give our employees resources like advanced analytical tools. We will also train employees in data analysis, and update our data management systems.

Modern and inclusive workforce

Make sure that our workforce can respond to changes in the transportation sector. We will help employees be more effective by using modern tools and innovative approaches to work. We will also promote increased wellness, diversity and inclusion among employees.

Intelligent policies and programs

Modernize safety and security-related legislation, regulations, policies and programs by using a multi-modal approach.

The program lifecycle

Infographic. See long description below.
Program lifecycle
Long description

The six phases move in a circular motion which shows how the safety and security group must better design and deliver on its programs

This figure (right) shows how the six phases of a program's lifecycle never end. The process includes regular evaluations and adjustments as time goes on.

1. Authorities and mandate

The first phase makes sure that Transport Canada has the power to:

  • be active and respond to change
  • use a risk-informed approach to supervising and monitoring programs and stakeholders

We're working towards a smart, active, and trusted model to regulate Canada's transportation system. Because change can happen quickly, we need to balance between strict rules and being flexible.

If the rules are too strict, we could struggle to respond to emerging risks and changes in technology.

The following are safety and security legislation that Transport Canada uses:

  • Aeronautics Act
  • Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
  • Canada Shipping Act, 2001
  • Canadian Navigable Waters Act
  • International Bridges and Tunnels Act
  • Marine Transportation Security Act
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Act
  • Motor Vehicle Transportation Act
  • Railway Safety Act
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992
  • Canada Transportation Act

Policy Instruments currently available in relation to the above legislation are:

  • Integrated approach to oversight transparency
  • Directive on Safety and Security Oversight
  • Policy on exemptions to promote innovation

2. Risk opportunity assessment

The second phase identifies and assesses the risks and opportunities, and applies the results to the program lifecycle. Our programs assess and manage two types of risk:

Public risk
A situation where the public or public interest faces risks because they could be exposed to a hazard or security threat. When assessing these risks, we look at how severe the harm could be and how likely it is to happen.
Corporate risk
The effect of uncertainty on an organization's goals, which can be used to describe the potential for both positive and negative differences from what we expected to happen. The one who faces this risk is the organization. Corporate risk is sometimes called enterprise, organizational, or internal risk.

While our programs assess and manage risks through each stage of the program lifecycle, they also apply a common approach to risk by using annual planning and reporting processes. For the program lifecycle, we apply the results of risk assessments to help us make informed decisions on policy development, program and service design, monitoring and assessment.

The following are guidance documents that Transport Canada uses for risk:

  • Transport Canada Risk Lexicon
  • Public risk taxonomy
  • Risk informed decision-making guidelines
  • Public risk management guidelines
  • Risk assessment guidelines

3. Policy development

In the third phase, we use proof and analysis to help us decide if, and how, the government should be involved in an issue.

We try to find the best way to minimize the risks. The policy instruments we use should be the best way of getting the result that people want. This is measured in terms of risk reduction.

Traditionally, we've used legislation and regulation, but with the shift to a more risk-informed approach, the tools we use are becoming more varied, such as:

Proactive risk prevention
Proactively responding to new/emerging risks and existing risks through regulatory and non-regulatory tools.
Targeted risk management
Managing risks through policy instruments and using operational resources based on the risks.
Responding to risks/events
Quickly dealing with people who don't follow the rules, and responding to emergencies, incidents and accidents.

Some of proactive and preventative options can help us respond to lower risks. These include voluntary approaches like:

  • outreach and awareness programs
  • education
  • grants and contributions
  • incentives

We often respond to higher risks by creating legislation, regulations, and standards. No matter which approach we pick, the tools we use should be appropriate to the type and level of risk, and we should clearly identify our end goals. We should do it at the beginning of the process using measurable indicators.

The following are some policy instruments that Transport Canada uses for policy development:

  • Safety and Security Program Policy Framework
  • Safety and Security templates for policies, directives and standards

4. Program and service design

The fourth phase is made up of three parts.

Developing risk informed oversight programs

In this part, we use risk analysis to help us develop parts of the oversight program like its:

  • scope
  • activities
  • outputs
  • performance goals
  • stakeholder engagement
  • functions
  • data requirements
  • alternate delivery options

Developing support and guidance for programs

In this part, we create resources to support and guide a program, like:

  • operational policies and procedures
  • tools for implementation (online and mobile options)
  • standards
  • staff instructions
  • guidance material

Sometimes we also use existing tools, like:

  • safety and security management systems (SSMS)
  • the Centre of Enforcement's desk book
  • standard operating procedures

Technical training

We use technical training to make sure employees have the knowledge and skills they need to do their work.

The following are some policy instruments that Transport Canada uses for program and service design:

  • Standard on standard operating procedures
  • Multimodal Integrated Technical Training Policy
  • Emergency Management Policy
  • Enforcement policy and enforcement standards

5. Program and service delivery

This phase involves overseeing parts of the transportation system, which we do in many different ways:

  • monitoring and research
  • prevention
  • education campaigns
  • compliance promotion
  • certification
  • licensing
  • inspections
  • audits
  • enforcement activities
  • incident management
  • technical training

This oversight may find risks. For example, something could happen that highlights a new risk to the transportation system, or an inspector may find an issue in the system while inspecting a facility.

In this case, Transport Canada's programs would continue to monitor and report on these risks. If the risks are big enough, we could raise them with our departmental colleagues so that we can respond from a regional or national level.

Delivering oversight programs is more than just getting stakeholders to follow our requirements. By promoting safety and security, and proactively preventing incidents, inspectors and auditors do more than just enforce the rules. They can provide advice or challenge stakeholders by showing how specific risks could be reduced or monitored.

The following are some policy instruments that Transport Canada uses for program and service delivery:

  • Guide to using electronic signatures for internal and external processes
  • Directive or guidance regarding planning and reporting

6. Monitoring and assessment (continuous improvement)

This phase makes sure that we can watch and evaluate our oversight activities. We do this through several different methods, including:

  • audits
  • evaluations
  • quality assurance checks
  • Transportation Safety Board reports

Assessment should be based on the program's information profiles and performance indicators.

The “Review and results” section of the Cabinet Directive on Regulation includes guidance to be used when developing our programs and making incremental improvements.

The results from these reviews should then feed back into the program, and adjustments should be made, as needed.


We welcome your comments on this report and if you would like a copy of the policy documents mentioned in this report, please contact:

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