May 2, 2019 — CMC Opening Remarks to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport – Bill C-97, modifications to the Pilotage Act.
Good morning and thank you for the invitation to appear before this committee. I am Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, and I am joined today by Robert Turner, CMC’s Vice President of Operations.
I will launch right into our remarks as I know you are all aware of the CMC and what we do, and – more importantly – I cannot stress how fundamentally important these reforms are to Canada’s pilotage system. The Pilotage Act hasn’t seen a major overhaul since the 1970s, and it shows.
After 45 years, we are finally seeing changes, in Bill C-97, that will set out a framework that will encourage greater objectivity, transparency and consistency. All of these are essential elements to good governance which have been lacking in today’s monopoly pilotage system.
The Pilotage Act will now have clear purpose and principles to guide decision-making and pilotage services are to be provided in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Use of evolving technology and sound risk management are also brought to the fore front.
In addition, it is important for us to note the following critical changes:
• Separating regulatory authority from the delivery of pilotage services;
• Transferring responsibilities for regulating and issuing pilotage certificates from the pilotage authorities to Transport Canada;
• Giving Transport Canada regulatory responsibility for risk assessments and for the establishment of compulsory pilotage areas;
• Ensuring service contracts can’t be used to address regulatory matters, circumventing the regulatory process;
• Requiring that service contracts be made publicly available
The above are all key to ensuring objectivity in decision-making and avoiding potential areas of conflict, and to ensuring services are provided with efficiency and cost-effectiveness in mind.
To build on the cost effectiveness aspect, we are keen to work with Transport Canada on the development of a national certification system that promotes onboard training and certification of a company’s masters and officers to pilot their own vessels – similar to what we already have on the Great Lakes.
This change alone would be a huge improvement to the out-of-date systems that currently exist in other pilotage areas.
However, one issue was not included for reform, and it’s one we believe is critical in giving pilotage authorities the full control of their service delivery. Authorities do not have the ability to choose the hiring model that meets their needs, often locking them into costly contracts with monopoly pilot corporations, instead of being able to hire employee pilots, or contract with individual pilots.
This lack of flexibility will hamper pilotage authorities from being able to choose the service delivery model that is right for them and one that will result in higher charges for their customers, while at the same time, not providing any service improvements.
I know that there will be a 10-year review of the Pilotage Act should this pass, and we will continue to seek this reform in future reviews.
We are cautiously optimistic as this point. While a great suite of reforms has been proposed per this division, passing Bill C-97 is half the battle in reforming Canada’s pilotage system. The heavy lifting to reform the system will take place in the transition of the regulatory framework and supporting policies and programs from the pilotage authorities to Transport Canada.
The updated system must take the clear direction provided by this bill, and that provided by the Pilotage Act Review Report, and apply it, based on the new purpose and principles contained in the Act.
Once again, thank you for the invitation to appear, and we would be more than happy to address your questions.