World-Class Tanker Safety System: Amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act)

Among the measures to create a World-Class Tanker Safety System, the Government of Canada has proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to strengthen ship-source oil spill preparedness and response, introduce new requirements for oil handling facilities, and establish new offences for the contravention of pollution prevention provisions in Canada's waters, including administrative monetary penalties (AMP).

The proposed amendments will:

  • strengthen the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil handling facilities, requiring operators to be proactive in the prevention of spills, and also to have the capacity to effectively respond to a spill, if required. Currently, oil handling facilities are required to have emergency response plans in place. However, they are not obliged to submit these plans to Transport Canada. These amendments will make it mandatory for operators to provide these plans to Transport Canada to ensure they meet the regulations;

  • increase Transport Canada's oversight and enforcement capacity by equipping marine safety inspectors with tools to effectively ensure compliance, introducing new offences for contraventions of the Act and extending the Administrative Monetary Penalty provisions to the Pollution Prevention and Response portion of the Act (Part 8). By doing so, Marine Safety inspectors have the ability to impose administrative monetary penalties to oil handling facilities not in compliance with regulations; and

  • enhance response to oil spill incidents by removing legal barriers that could otherwise block agents of Canadian response organizations from participating in clean-up operations. Right now, Canadian oil spill response organizations have civil and criminal immunity in the Act when they respond to spills from ships. We will expand this immunity for when they respond to spills from oil handling facilities and provide immunity to foreign response organizations.

Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

Administrative monetary penalties are civil fines designed to ensure compliance with legislation as well as regulations and can address a range of compliance issues: some relatively minor and some more severe. An administrative monetary penalty takes away the financial incentives of rule breaking and thereby removes the financial benefit, advantage, or gain a person or corporation can achieve by committing a violation. It helps ensure future compliance by discouraging others from violating legal requirements.

When the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001) came into force on July 1st, 2007, Transport Canada introduced administrative monetary penalties to certain parts of the Act, as a new enforcement mechanism designed to promote compliance and penalize those who did not comply. This approach provides Transport Canada with a more effective compliance program that improves the safety of the marine community, the marine environment and ultimately the general public.

These administrative enforcement tools were introduced when the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force on April 3rd, 2008. The current penalties range from $250 to $25,000. Anyone who is issued an AMP may request a review by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada

Although Transport Canada has introduced administrative monetary penalties, the department retains the ability to prosecute those who do not comply with the CSA 2001 or its regulations.

Should a major oil spill occur in Canadian waters, offenders would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Currently, the Administrative Monetary Penalty regime does not apply to Part 8 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which deals with pollution preparedness and response. The government's proposed amendments to the Act would apply the AMP regime to Part 8. Once the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations are updated to include the requirements contained in Part 8 and its regulations, marine safety inspectors will be able to issue administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance with the Act.

March 2013