Environmental Response National Preparedness Policy

Transport Publication - TP 13585 E

Marine Safety Management System - Policy
TP 13585 E (Online Manual)



1 Policy Objective



The main objective of this policy is to clearly define Transport Canada’s role as lead regulatory agency for the Canadian spill response regime. Specifically, this policy is intended to:

  • ensure an appropriate level of preparedness capacity for marine pollution incidents in Canadian waters;
  • foster an effective partnership between regime stakeholders with respect to marine spill response; and
  • ensure the effective and efficient management of both government and industry resources for the protection of the marine environment.

2 Policy Statement 

This policy is intended to provide a clear and consistent understanding of the preparedness capacity of the marine spill response regime, and to ensure mechanisms are in place to provide an adequate preparedness capacity.

3 Scope

Transport Canada ( TC ) is the lead regulatory agency responsible for Canada's oil spill preparedness and response regime.  It implements regulations and sets rigorous standards for Response Organizations ( RO s) and Oil Handling Facilities ( OHF s), and ensures the required national preparedness capacity for the regime. The roles and responsibilities of  TC are summarized below:

3.1 TC is the lead regulatory agency for marine spills in Canadian waters where this policy applies.  Responsibilities under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 ( CSA 2001 ) include:

  • to certify RO s and evaluate RO activities;
  • ensure amendments to fees charged by an RO in relation to an arrangement with an OHF or vessel are applied in a transparent manner through a User Committee.
  • implement and oversee the National Aerial Surveillance Program;
  • to act as the Competent National Authority for the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response, and Co-operation ( OPRC );
  • Canada is working on the development of a HNS Regime, similar to the Canadian Oil Regime, in order to ratify the OPRC - HNS Protocol (Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substance, 2000) from IMO . This project is also a goal of TC in the ministerial Sustainable development Strategy.
  • to appoint Regional Advisory Committee ( RAC ) Members in six Regions, oversee RAC recommendations and to provide logistics and a Secretariat for each Committee;
  • inspect OHF s and evaluate OHF s prevention and emergency plans and activities;
  • designation of ports; and
  • oversee the National and Regional Places of Refuge Contingency Plan

3.2 TC Role Preparedness:

  • to establish a framework, which will identify the responsibility of all organizations and plans to ensure full response coverage in Canadian waters, including boundary waters with neighbouring states;
  • to ensure the appropriate level of preparedness is available to combat marine oil pollution incidents in Canada; 
  • to ensure continuous enhancement of the regime; and
  • to ensure a consultation process is active with all stakeholders.

4 Authority 

4.1 This policy relates to the Minister’s authority under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 R.S., 2001, c. 26.

5 Responsibility/ further information

5.1 This policy is the responsibility of the Director, Operations and Environmental Programs. 

5.2 The Manger, Environmental Response is responsible for the development, maintenance, implementation, monitoring and continuous improvement of this policy.

6 Background

6.1 TC is the lead federal regulatory agency for Canada’s Marine Spill Response Regime. Under TC ’s leadership, Canada’s national oil spill preparedness and response system brings together components of industry, the provinces and other federal agencies to protect Canada’s marine environment.

6.2 Amendments to the Canada Shipping Act led to the 1995 creation of a network of private sector owned and operated oil spill RO s that provide industry with the ability to respond to oil spills up to 10,000 tonnes, south of 60o north latitude, based on a cascading of response resources.

6.3 The principle behind these amendments is that potential polluters should bear the costs of preparedness for the environmental risk posed by their operations.

6.4 Under the regime, prescribed classes of OHF s and all vessels of a prescribed class are required to have an arrangement with a TC certified RO for the provision of a response in the event of a pollution incident.

6.5 The certification process for RO s is rigorous. TC in consultation with industry sets the standards by which the RO s are certified, ensures their continuing compliance with those standards, and monitors response operations undertaken by RO s.  RO s are certified for a three-year period.

6.6 There are currently four (4) certified RO s operating in Canada.

6.7 Prior to CSA, 2001 the Minister of Transport designated OHF s. The designation required OHF operators to develop Oil Pollution Emergency Plans ( OPEP ) and enter into an arrangement with a certified RO . Since the implementation of CSA, 2001 , OHF s are self identified and no longer designated, however, TC continues to ensure the OHF s regulatory compliance, through regular inspections, exercises and planned audits.

6.8 The Minister of Transport establishes the criteria for the designation of ports, which act as the cornerstone of the Canadian Response Regime.

6.9 As lead federal response agency, the Canadian Coast Guard ( CCG ) maintains a preparedness capacity for response to spills north of 60° north latitude and provides an initial response and monitoring capacity for the entire marine spill response regime.

7 Date of Application

7.1 This policy shall apply to everything coming under the scope of the policy that is published by Marine Safety after March 31, 2010.

8 Date for Review or Expiry

8.1 This policy shall be reviewed not later than 12 months from the date of initial issue and every 2 years thereafter.

9 RDIMS Reference

9.1 The English version of this document is saved in RDIMS under reference number 1605609.  The applied naming convention is PUBLICATION – TP 13585 – POLICY – ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS.

9.2 La version française du présent document est dans le SGDDI et porte le numéro de référence 5701359.  La règle d'affectation des noms est PUBLICATION – TP 13585 – POLITIQUE NATIONALE DE PRÉPARATION À L’INTERVENTION ENVIRONNEMENTALE.

9.3 This is the first approved and finalized revision of the English version of this document.  

10 Keywords

  • RO s
  • Preparedness
  • Regime
  • Environmental
  • OHF