Transport Canada’s Enforcement Policy

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This is information meant for Transport Canada officials, the public and regulated entities. It explains the principles and management of Transport Canada’s enforcement programs.

This is not meant as legal advice, and it’s not part of Transport Canada’s legislative/regulatory framework. If there are any inconsistencies between this document and a legislation/regulation, then the legislation/regulations should take precedence.


Safety, security, efficiency and environmental protection are top priorities for Transport Canada (TC). Enforcement is a key part of TC’s strategy to reduce the risk to, and protect the property of all Canadians.

The Minister of Transport is responsible for each act listed in Annex 1. Each include powers that help the Minister create, maintain and deliver enforcement programs consistently.

This Policy reflects the guidance in TC’s Departmental Enforcement Standards, Transport Canada’s Code of Values and Ethics and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.


  1. Enforce all programs consistently.
  2. Encourage compliance and improve safety, security and efficiency.
  3. Promote a healthy, environmentally responsible transportation system.


This Policy applies to programs that enforce the acts listed in Annex 1 below. TC’s Compliance Policy (under development) compliments this document, and should be read alongside it.


“Definitions” can be found in Chapter Four of the Departmental Enforcement Standards.

Guiding Principles

  1. Risk-based approach: Every enforcement program uses a clear process to identify, assess and immediately address risks. Responses to mitigate these risks may vary depending on the statute and may include: orders, directions, seizures/groundings, or operator suspension. While not all safety, security, environmental, or transportation efficiency risks will result in non-compliance, those that do may require enforcement action.
  2. Graduated approach: Enforcement actions escalate as harm, or the risk of harm, rises. The higher the risk, the more severe the response. When serious harm is possible, TC’s response will be swift and severe. This response may vary from one program to another, but will always align with the risk presented.
  3. Fair, consistent, predictable: Any action taken will follow the principles of fairness. If any non-compliance or enforcement actions are taken, TC will inform affected parties in a timely manner. These actions will be applied consistently across Canada, following common legal standards and due process.
  4. Transparent: In accordance with the Privacy and Access to Information Acts, we will provide public access to compliance related informsation. In some cases, information will not be available for security reasons.

Enforcement Responses

Enforcement responses will vary depending on the statute being enforced. Responses could include: warnings, orders and directions, tickets, monetary penalties, court injunctions, prosecution and administrative sanctions up to the permanent suspension of a privilege.

Factors used to select an enforcement response:

To choose a response, we ask the following questions:

  1. What type of non-compliance has taken place?

    This includes considering the seriousness, maximum penalty available, context, the degree of harm or potential harm, any risk management measures, and the degree of negligence or deliberate actions.
  2. What responses are available?

    Not all statutes are the same. Some offer enforcement responses while others may not. Any response applied must be grounded in the statute.
  3. Will this response get the desired result?

    TC’s desired results are the safety, security and environmental protection of Canada’s transportation system. The response will help get these results while also making further non-compliance less likely. A violator’s history of compliance, willingness to cooperate and corrective actions taken will be taken into consideration. When choosing the response, TC will also consider the economic benefits of non-compliance.
  4. Is this response consistent?

    The aim is to respond consistently to non-compliance. As such, TC will consider how similar situations are handled across Canada.

Roles and Responsibilities

The safety, security, environmental protection and efficiency of Canada’s transportation system is a responsibility shared between government, industry and the public.

Transport Canada Officers and Management:

This Policy applies to all TC programs. Its guiding principles inform the department’s legal powers. The Departmental Enforcement Standards support this Policy and expand on each of the roles below.

  1. Officers conduct enforcement and take action, as needed. They are required to communicate with regulated entities and document these interactions, and may have to follow up on specific violations. When in doubt or faced with a challenging situation, they must seek guidance from their line Manager.

    Officers must understand their authority and work within these limits. As Charter protections require, they must know when to give caution statements and seek warrants, instead of using their inspection powers.
  2. Regional Director General (RDG), Director General (DG), Manager and others provide oversight and follow this Policy and related documents (see References). When in doubt or faced with a challenging situation the RDG, DG and others with a supervisory role must seek guidance from TC Legal Services.
  3. Executive Director of the Centre of Enforcement Expertise monitors and reviews enforcement activity and makes sure these functions align with TC’s standards and reflect the guiding principles of this Policy.

Approved and Effective Date

This Policy was approved by the Transport Management Executive Committee (TMX) in February 2015 and came into force at that time. It was reviewed in October 2016 and re-approved in February 2017.

Monitoring and Review

The Director General, Multimodal and Road Safety Programs will review this Policy every two years to make sure it aligns with related documents.


The Director General, Multimodal and Road Safety Programs will review this Policy every two years to make sure it aligns with related documents.


Questions about this Policy can be sent to the Centre of Enforcement Expertise at

Annex 1


The Minister of Transport is responsible for the administration of the acts listed above. In some instances, notably related to the enforcement of the Canada Labour Code, TC has a Memorandum of Understanding which gives further guidance on how these requirements are to be enforced.

The general enforcement provisions included in these acts include the powers of enforcement officers; rules governing detention, statements, warrants, entry, and search and seizure; and the suspension of a certificate or license.