TDG Act Review

Retabling of the Bill - Amending the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act

On February 2, 2009, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tabled an amended Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, in the House of Commons. The legislation will strengthen the Government of Canada's ability to enhance the safety and security for Canadians during the transportation of dangerous goods. This bill was previously tabled on May 26, 2008 as Bill C-56.

An amended Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 would remain focused on prevention of incidents during the offering, handling, transporting and importing of dangerous goods. It would also enable a prevention program and a response capability for the Government of Canada in the event of a security incident involving dangerous goods.

Following the coming into force of the legislation, the public, industry, first responders and provincial and territorial governments would continue to be fully consulted during the development of new regulations.


The main amendments to the 1992 Act fall into two categories – safety amendments and new security requirements. The more significant items are:

1) Security

Requiring security plans and security training;

Requiring a transportation security clearance for the dangerous goods, including an appeals process (operate like existing Aeronautics Act clearance program);

Enabling the use of Security Measures and Interim Orders (as in the Public Safety Act and 10 other existing Parliament Acts); and

Enabling regulations to be made to require that dangerous goods are track during transport or reported if lost or stolen.

2) Safety

Reconfirming that the Act is applicable uniformly throughout Canada, including to local works and undertakings (movements of dangerous goods within a province not using a federal carrier/shipper);

Reinforcing and strengthening Emergency Response Assistance Plan Program – including enabling the use of Emergency Response Assistance Plans to respond to a terrorist release of dangerous goods;

Enabling inspectors to inspect any place for which a means of containment is being manufactured, repaired or tested (under a warrant if it is a private dwelling);

Changing the concept of importer so that it is clearer who is the importer in Canada that needs to meet the obligations of the act; and

Enabling a shipping record to be used in court as evidence of the presence of a dangerous good in a means of containment.


The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 is an “Act to Promote Public Safety in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods”. It received Royal Assent on June 23, 1992. At that time, there was an informal commitment to Parliament to begin a review of the Act after 10 years.

In 2002, the department began a review of the Act looking at safety issues. In the Summer of 2003, the review was expanded to include security.

In March 2004, the department began the public consultation process for the Review of the TDG Act. Public consultations were held in cities across Canada: St. John's, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Scarborough, Mississauga, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria.

Since June 2005, Transport Canada has hosted several meetings with provincial and territorial governments and industry to discuss the new concepts and potential amendments to the Act.

Discussions have continued at each of the twice-annual meetings of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force on Dangerous Goods (includes officials from each province and territory) and also at the twice-annual meetings of the Minister's Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council (includes industry, industry association, shippers, modal representatives, unions, first responders and members from the public at large).

Industry, provincial and territorial governments, as well as other concerned stakeholders, will continue to be consulted following the coming into force of the legislation in the development of new regulations.


In Canada, the transportation of dangerous goods is strictly regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. The Act was designed to promote public safety during the transportation of dangerous goods.

The provinces and territories work with Transport Canada (through established memoranda of agreement) to enforce transportation of dangerous goods requirements on the highway. Transport Canada conducts enforcement for rail, marine and aviation. The department also leads in the development of dangerous goods regulations in the transportation sector.

The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR), adopted by all provinces and territories, establishes the regulatory requirements for the handling, offering for transport and transport of dangerous goods by all modes within Canada.

The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 focuses on prevention. However, in the unlikely event of a mishap, the Act assigns roles and responsibilities to shippers and carriers and further empowers inspectors to take immediate steps, as appropriate, during an incident to preserve public safety.

Transport Canada's TDG program is based on the premise that properly classifying a dangerous good while ensuring that the dangerous good is transported in a proper means of containment are crucial elements in the safe transportation of dangerous goods. To help accomplish this, TDG harmonizes with UN recommendations and classifications.

Transport Canada remains committed to working with Canadians and our domestic and international partners and stakeholders to maintain and enhance the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada and around the world.


When a shipper wishes to transport a substance that is considered highly dangerous under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, the shipper must submit an Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) to Transport Canada.

The ERAP - approved by Transport Canada before the shipment is allowed - outlines the actions a shipper would take in the event of an accident. The intent of the ERAP is to provide on-site assistance to local authorities in the event of an accident involving such dangerous goods.

ERAPs are required only for the most potentially harmful dangerous goods -- such as certain explosives, flammable substances and toxic gases -- which may present widespread hazards in the event of an accident.

An ERAP must include, amongst others, the following information:

  • structure of the organization,
  • company's response policy and purpose of the plan,
  • geographical scope,
  • list of dangerous goods covered,
  • 24 hour telephone number that will cause immediate activation of the ERAP,
  • description of the emergency response capabilities including the number of qualified persons available to provide technical advice over the telephone,
  • number of persons available to advise and assist at the scene,
  • list of specialized equipment that is available for use at the emergency site,
  • response actions capable of being taken,
  • description of the transportation arrangements to bring the equipment and personnel to the accident site, and
  • what communication systems are expected to be used there.


Transport Canada also supports emergency response and first responders through its Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC), which is staffed by professional scientists prepared to assist emergency response personnel in handling dangerous goods emergencies.

CANUTEC scientists are knowledgeable and experienced in understanding and interpreting technical information and providing emergency response advice to first responders. The centre operates 24 hours a day and handles over 30,000 phone calls a year.

In addition, Transport Canada provides to police and fire departments in Canada copies of the Emergency Response Guidebook (most recent publication in 2008). It is an informative and comprehensive guide designed for use at a dangerous goods incident occurring on a highway, aircraft, ship or railroad.


In 2002, the TDG directorate put in place a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Program that would be part of the federal government initiative on counter-terrorism.

The mandate of the TDG CBRN Response Program is to ensure product response services following a CBRN incident. Such response would occur once all terrorist-related hazards have been eliminated.

The CBRN Response Program is based on the existing industrial Emergency Response network and infrastructure established under the Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) requirements pursuant to the TDG Act and Regulations.

This existing infrastructure provides an effective Canada-wide response capability to terrorism incidents involving CBRN agents. The Transport Canada CBRN Program is aimed at managing the consequences of such incidents during the transportation of dangerous goods by providing timely access to specialized expertise, equipment and emergency responders.

The new authorities provided in the bill will enable Transport Canada to use the existing approved Emergency Response Assistance Plan as part of a CBRN response program.


The sections dealing with transportation security clearances will come into force separately and at a later date than the rest of the provisions of the Bill, and only once the scope, policy and costing of the program has been completed.

In August 2005, The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) came into force in the United States requiring commercial motor vehicle drivers licensed in Canada or Mexico transporting dangerous goods into and within the United States in truck load quantities to undergo a background check (security clearance) similar to those required for United States' truck drivers transporting truckload quantities of dangerous goods in the United States.

This provision is currently being satisfied by Canadian drivers if they have been accepted into the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programs of the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. This arrangement is temporary and the United States still expects Canada to implement a long-term solution. This requirement in the Bill would enable the development of that longer-term solution.