Terms of Reference for the Pilotage Act Review

In November 2016, the Government announced the Oceans Protection Plan to:

  • improve marine safety
  • promote responsible shipping
  • protect the environment
  • strengthen partnerships with Indigenous communities
  • invest in science for evidence-based decision making

As part of this comprehensive plan, the Government committed to reviewing the Pilotage Act to support the delivery of safe, efficient and environmentally responsible pilotage services into the future. This Review will be led by an expert Chairperson appointed by the Minister of Transport and supported by Transport Canada.

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Marine pilotage services are important to marine safety. Marine pilots come on board to bring vessels into ports and through straits, lakes, rivers and other waterways. Marine pilots are experts in their field who apply their seafaring experience and superior knowledge of local waterways to safely navigate vessels to and from their destinations.

Canada enacted the Pilotage Act in 1972, which:

  • created Canada's four Pilotage Authorities:
    1. Atlantic Pilotage Authority (APA)
    2. Laurentian Pilotage Authority (LPA)
    3. Great Lakes Pilotage Authority (GLPA)
    4. Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA)
  • gave these Pilotage Authorities a mandate to establish and operate a safe and efficient pilotage service within their respective jurisdictions

The four Pilotage Authorities conduct over 50,000 pilotage assignments each year, with a greater than 99.9% safety record. Marine pilotage makes an important contribution to international marine trade.

Much of the Pilotage Act remains unchanged since its enactment in 1972, and the goal of this Review is to provide a modernized legislative and regulatory framework for the delivery of pilotage services into the future.

Key principles for the Review

  • The Review will be conducted in an open and transparent manner
  • Public consultations and engagement will inform the Review
  • Pilotage services must be provided in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner
  • Pilotage services must be provided according to a framework that is transparent and accountable

Scope of the Review

In order to make recommendations for modernization, the Review will focus on:

  • assessing the Pilotage Act and its regulatory framework
  • service delivery
  • governance structures
  • industry trends and technological developments

The Review Chairperson will consult stakeholders and the public on issues that are fundamental to the Canadian marine pilotage system, in order to provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Transport to modernize the pilotage regime.

Stakeholders and Transport Canada identified many topics to consider, under the following six themes. The list was developed from past reviews and recommendations. In no particular order, the themes and example topics under each are:

1. Governance: Topics will include:

  • the 2016 Canada Transportation Act Review governance recommendations
  • composition of the Pilotage Authorities' Boards of Directors

2. Safety: Topics will include:

  • scope of regulatory powers within the Act as it relates to the safe delivery of pilotage services
  • use of technology to assist with pilotage functions
  • the 2016 Canada Transportation Act Review recommendation to review compulsory pilotage areas every three to five years

3. Labour Models: Topics will include current:

  • service delivery models and comparisons with other countries/sectors
  • arbitration and final offer selection processes in the Pilotage Act

4. Tariff setting process: Topics will include:

  • alternative tariff setting models
  • other sources of revenue for the Pilotage Authorities

5. Economic and public policy considerations: Topics will include:

  • costs and competitiveness.
  • areas of shared responsibility with the US

6. Emerging issues: Topics will include:

  • pilotage in the North
  • international models of providing pilotage services

Stakeholders are welcome to bring forward additional topics, which the Chair may choose to add to the Review.

Stakeholder engagement

The Chairperson will conduct a series of roundtable consultations in the fall of 2017. Participants will include stakeholders such as the following (among others):

  • the Pilotage Authorities
  • the shipping industry
  • pilots
  • Indigenous groups
  • environmental groups
  • Port Authorities
  • the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation
  • the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
  • the US Coast Guard

A website will also invite and accept public comments and submissions.

In early spring 2018, the Chairperson will conduct a series of solution-focused consultations with stakeholders to consider options. A report will be presented to the Minister of Transport with recommendations for modernizing the Pilotage Act.

Role of the Review Chairperson

The Chairperson will lead the roundtable consultations, actively listen to stakeholders' advice and views, review past stakeholder submissions and the existing body of knowledge on pilotage, and provide advice to the Minister of Transport.

The Pilotage Act Review Secretariat within Transport Canada will provide support to the Chairperson throughout the Review. It will:

  • collect and synthesize research
  • manage an online presence for accepting public comments and submissions
  • collect and synthesize stakeholder submissions and public input
  • prepare consultation engagement materials
  • organize consultation logistics
  • prepare communications related to the Review


  • Publish consultation paper: Fall 2017
  • Complete consultations with stakeholders: Spring 2018
  • Publish summary of consultations: Spring/Summer 2018
  • Publish final report: a time the Minister of Transport will determine

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