Original publication: May 2016
Author: Beata Tuszyńska, Seconded National Expert
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2JlBRzw
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Transport in Canada

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This overview of the transport and tourism sectors in Canada was prepared to provide information for the delegation visit of the Transport and Tourism Committee to Canada (17-20 May 2016).


Canada, located in North America, is the second-largest country in world in terms of total area (after Russia). Stretching from the United States (US) in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north, the country is filled with vibrant cities including:

  • Ottawa – the capital city;
  • the massive and multicultural Toronto;
  • the predominantly French-speaking Montréal and Québec City;
  • Vancouver and Halifax on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, respectively.

Transport in CanadaCanada is a Federal State composed of three territories and ten provinces. Approximately 90% of the Canadian population (estimated at almost 36 million) is concentrated within 160 km of the US border. Canada has more fresh water than any other country and almost 9% of Canadian territory is water.

The Canadian GDP per capita has been growing since 1980 and reached USD 45 025 in 2014, which was higher than the OECD’s average of USD 39 219. In 2009, Canada recorded a negative GDP growth of -2.71%. However, the economy bounced back in the following year, growing by 3.37%. Between 2011-2014, the Canadian GDP expanded on average by 2.33% per year but recorded a slightly weaker development in 2015, when it’s GDP increased by only 1.18%. Service-producing sectors accounted for some 70.3% of the Canadian GDP growth in 2015, with real estate, finance and insurance, as well as health care sectors being in the lead.

Canada’s trade balance has been in deficit since the financial crisis and the subsequent recession in 2009, but its export figures have remained stable since 2011. Canada’s main export goods are energy products, motor vehicles and parts, as well as metals. The country possesses significant crude oil reserves, making it one of the leaders in oil resources (only outranked
by Venezuela and Saudi Arabia) and the fifth country world-wide for the production of petroleum and other liquids. In 2014, the Canadian total international trade amounted to CAD 1 036 billion (or USD 938.1 billion), a 9.3% increase compared to 2013. The US continued to be a dominating trading partner with a 65.3% share in overall international trade of goods in value terms. The European Union (EU) with 9.4% share was Canada’s second largest trading partner, followed by China, Mexico and Japan, which together accounted for 13.4% of Canada’s international trade of goods in 2014.

On 4 February 2016, Canada joined 11 other countries (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, Mexico, Japan and Vietnam) in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), representing one of the most significant trade initiative since the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement with the US and Mexico in 1994. Ratification of the treaty remains open for Canada’s parliament’s consideration.

Canada and the EU are in the process of finalizing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Once applied, it will:

  • remove customs duties,
  • end limitations in access to public contracts,
  • open-up the services market,
  • offer predictable conditions for investors
  • help prevent illegal copying of EU innovations and traditional products.

It is expected that CETA will provide a high degree of liberalisation in the services sector, particularly with respect to transport, telecom and business services. As far as transport is concerned, CETA refers primarily to two areas of cooperation between Canada and the EU, namely: cooperation in the field of motor vehicle regulations (focus is put on strengthening the cooperation and communication on motor vehicle safety and environmental performance research activities linked to the development of new technical regulations) and to international marine transport services. Under Canada’s blue sky policy, the country has already concluded an air transport agreement with the EU in 2009, so CETA is not the main vehicle for air transport sector market access.

The unemployment rate has fallen from a recession peak of 8.4% in 2009 to 6.9% in 2014, which is still about 0.8% above the pre-recession low. The share of long-term unemployed (26 weeks or more) in total unemployment is 20%, which is below the post-recession high and far below outcomes elsewhere.

Table 1: Macro-economic forecasts for Canada

The federal government has indicated its intention to pursue a collaborative approach with provinces and territories to achieve Canada’s climate change objectives and to reach the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 30% relative to the 2005 level by 2030. The four largest provinces have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, a carbon tax. However, emissions reductions would be less costly if provinces coordinated or the federal government took the lead on a national GHG abatement policy. The transportation sector was responsible for 23% of Canadian total GHG emissions in 2013.


Decisions on transportation are undertaken by four orders of government in Canada – federal, provincial/territorial, regional, and municipal – in consultation with stakeholders. Local governments, municipalities, and regional governing bodies are responsible for local planning decisions, such as municipal transportation, transit, setting parking fees and establishing bicycle lanes. Aspects of intraprovincial/territorial highways, urban planning and transportation as well as vehicle licensing and inspection fall within provincial/territorial jurisdiction. They also have the authority to establish standards for all vehicles and engines, new or in-use, and may set emissions standards and fuel quality standards comparable to or exceeding federal standards. The federal government is largely responsible for international issues in transportation, standards for new vehicles (including national emissions standards for new on-road, off-road and non-road vehicles, and national fuel quality standards), the aviation mode, and almost all the marine mode. It is also responsible for national and interprovincial/ territorial aspects of rail, bus, and truck transportation. Specific federal departments have the following responsibilities in relation to development of Canadian transportation:

a. Transport Canada is the administration responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation. Transport Canada reports to the Canadian Parliament and Canadians through the Minister of Transport;
b. Infrastructure Canada constitutes the part of the federal administration which aims to provide Canadians with worldclass, modern public infrastructure (including transport infrastructure). Infrastructure Canada is headed by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

In the bicameral Canadian parliament, there are two standing committees which deal with matters related to transport:

a. House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) – primarily studies the legislation, policies and programs, and other issues of national importance related to transportation, infrastructure, and Canadian cities and communities, as well as the operations of Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada along with their portfolio agencies and partners. At present, TRAN is composed of the chair, two vice-chairs and seven members.
b. Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications (TRCM) – one of the oldest Senate committees which was created in 1867. The TRCM has the mandate to examine legislation and study issues related to transport (by land, air, water, and space) and all forms of communications. It also deals with matters relating to tourist traffic, common carriers, shipping and navigable waters. Currently, it is composed of the chairperson and one deputy chair as well as nine appointed members.

The Canadian Transportation Agency functions as an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that makes decisions on matters involving federally-regulated modes of transportation (air, rail and maritime) under the authority of the parliament. Its mandate includes:

  • regulation, to provide approvals, issue licences, permits and certificates of fitness, and make decisions on a wide range of matters involving federal air, rail and marine transportation;
  • dispute resolution, to resolve complaints about federal transportation services, rates, fees and charges;
  • accessibility, to ensure Canada’s national transportation system is accessible to all persons, particularly those with disabilities.

The Canadian Safety Board of Canada (TSB) was established in 1990. It is an independent agency that reports to parliament through the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. The TSB consists of up to five board members, including a chairperson. Its mandate is to advance transportation safety in the maritime, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation by:

  • conducting independent investigations into selected transportation occurrences in order to make findings as to their causes and contributing factors;
  • identifying safety deficiencies, as evidenced by transportation occurrences;
  • making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce any such safety deficiencies;
  • reporting publicly on TSB investigations and on the findings in relation thereto.

In 2014, the transportation and warehousing sector accounted for 4.2% of GDP (or 3.7% of GDP when excluding pipelines and warehousing). This sector grew by 4.2% in real terms in the past year, almost double the growth rate for all industries. It employed nearly 900 thousand people in 2014 (up 1.6% compared to 2013), which represents almost 5% of total employment in Canada. There were approximately 2.6 unemployed persons for every vacant job in the sector, compared to a ratio of 5.8 for the overall economy. The Canadian transportation system moves more than CAD 1 trillion (or USD 782 billion) worth of goods each year. Domestic freight moves primarily by truck (70%) and rail (30%) when measured by volume. Air and marine modes mostly handle international freight. In value terms, 44% of goods transported internationally used roads, followed by marine (22%), rail and air (each holding 12% share) in 2013. Growing overseas exports of bulk goods and imports of containers move primarily by rail through marine ports, while most Canada-US trade in manufactured goods moves by truck.

Figure 1: International Travel by Mode of Transportation (Thousands of Incoming Visitors)

While international travel of Canadian residents abroad increased by 35% between 2004-2014, the overall number of nonresidential visitors coming into Canada decreased by 34.2% over the same period. The drop was most significant in the land transport modes (-46.7%), which carried the majority (60-70%) of the non-residential visitors. Meanwhile, air transportation was the only mode that recorded a 9% increase of the number of visitors carried between 2004-2014. Starting from 2010, the numbers have been improving gradually, however they still have not reached the 2004 values (please see Figure 1).

Canada’s public infrastructure is rapidly aging and deficient in meeting the needs placed upon it now, let alone in the future. Despite the escalation of federal infrastructure grants to local governments since the late 1990s, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada indicates that 50% of public infrastructure will have reached the end of its serviceable lifespan by 2027. The deficiencies of public transport infrastructure of Canada are also reflected in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector in 141 countries. While the Canadian air infrastructure was ranked first among the countries participating in the study (both in 2009 and 2015), ground and port infrastructure was classified only 46th in 2015, down from 24th place in 2009.

In 2013 alone, the governmental expenditures for transport reached nearly USD 20 billion and 60% of the amount was directed to the road sector. The infrastructure of other modes of long distance transport such as air, marine and rail freight are almost entirely self-financed based on user charges.

In 2014, the federal government of Canada launched the 10 year, CAD 14 billion (or USD 12.68 billion) New Building Canada Fund. The liberal government, elected in October 2015, announced its plan to reform and increase transparency of the Fund by providing clearer project criteria and faster approval processes. It intends to establish the new funding mechanisms for public transit, social, and green infrastructure and to prioritise investments in roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports, and border gateways. Furthermore, the government plans to increase steadily federal infrastructure investment each year. Investments in transit infrastructure are expected to reach CAD 6 billion (or USD 4.5 billion) in four years’ time and nearly CAD 20 billion (or USD 14.96 billion) by 202539. The establishment of the Canada Infrastructure Bank has been foreseen as part of the federal government’s plans to stimulate investments in infrastructure. The bank’s role will be to provide low-cost financing (including loan guarantees) for new municipal infrastructure projects in priority investment areas. This should include preparing for the launch of a new Canadian Green Bond that can enable additional investments when a lack of capital represents a barrier to project’s implementation.

On 25 February 2016, the Minister of Transport tabled in parliament a final report summing up the results of the statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act, which took place between 25 February 2014 and 21 December 2015. The report contains the proposed framework of the new federal transport policy for enhancing the performance of federal transportation services for many years to come41 (more information can be found in the following sections).

2.1 Air Transport
The Canadian Airports System includes:

  • 26 airports forming the National Airport System (NAS): Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Fredericton, Gander, Halifax, Iqaluit, Kelowna, London, Moncton, Montréal/Trudeau, Montréal/Mirabel, Ottawa, Prince George, Québec, Regina, Saint John, Saskatoon, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse, Winnipeg and Yellowknife (please see Figure 2);
  • 71 regional and local airports serving scheduled passenger traffic;
  • 31 small and satellite airports without scheduled passenger services;
  • 13 remote airports providing the only reliable year-round transportation link to isolated communities;
  • 11 Arctic airports (including the three territorial capital airports counted already in the NAS: Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife).

Figure 2: Air and Road Transport Infrastructure of Canada

While air cargo accounts for approximately 1% of Canada’s international trade in tonnage, by value it represents as much as 25% of exports outside the US43. In 2014, Canadian and foreign air carriers at Canadian airports loaded and unloaded an estimated 1.1 million tonnes of freight, down 3.6% from 2013. However in value terms, Canada’s international air cargo trade increased by 4.4 % over 2013. High-value commodity groups carried by air were mainly machinery and electronic equipment, aircraft material, precious minerals/stones, and pharmaceutical products.

In 2014, an estimated 124.5 million passengers arrived or departed from Canadian airports, up 2.2% compared to 2013 and 45% more compared to 2004. As much as 60.5% of these passengers were on domestic flights, while 19.5% on flights between Canada and the US and 20% on flights to/from other international destinations. In 2014, around 90% of the total air passenger traffic was handled at the 26 NAS airports. Toronto Pearson International Airport was the busiest airport, with 29% of passenger traffic. Vancouver International followed, with 15%.

As a response to the events of 09/11, the federal government of Canada established the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) in 2001. It is responsible for taking actions for the screening of persons who access aircraft or restricted areas through screening points, the property in their possession or control, and the belongings or baggage that they give to an air carrier for transport. CATSA’s role is also to ensure consistency in the delivery of screening across Canada, as well as air transport security functions that the Minister of Transport may assign to it. In order to improve the effectiveness of CATSA’s functioning, the government is intending to undertake a review of the spending, efficiency and structure of CATSA.

More than 1 500 new and modified aeronautical products built or operated in Canada were certified in 2014. The demand for aeronautical product certifications is expected to grow in the coming years as Canada currently ranks third in terms of global civil aircraft production. What’s more this production is forecasted to grow twice as fast as the global market during the 2014-2021 period, thanks – in large part – to its entrance into the large jet market. There are 700 Canadian-based aerospace companies that employ more than 180 000 Canadians. Over 130 of the above mentioned companies are affiliated with the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC). They include, inter alia, Bombardier Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of aircrafts with headquarters in Montréal, currently employing approximately 34 thousand people. In February 2016, the company announced its plans to reduce its global workforce by 10%, as result of the significant losses stemming mainly from its C Series passenger jet programme. However, the company is on its way to finalise its first firm order of these products since 2014, as it signed the letter of intent with Air Canada to sell 45 aircrafts.

In the last 15 years, Canada saw the exit of many low-cost carriers in a series of bankruptcies. The market stabilised and other carriers showed healthy growth, leading several airlines to expand in recent years. The most important air transport services operators in Canada in 2014 included: Air Canada and Air Canada Express, which held over 55% of available seat-kilometres in the domestic air market. Foreign operators offered 13 million scheduled seats from Canada, which is an increase of 2.7% from the 12.6 million seats offered in 2013.

The 1995 Canada-US Air Transport Agreement (ATA) marks the beginning of the international air service liberalisation in the country. This was followed by ATA with the United Kingdom and other key partners. The Canadian 2006 Blue Sky policy is intended to encourage:

  • competition and new air services,
  • provide opportunities for Canadian airlines and
  • enable marketing opportunities for airports,
  • support trade objectives as well as safety, security and efficiency.

Since 2006, ATAs have been concluded that cover at least 80 countries (including the EU in 2009) and Transport Canada intends to conclude more ATAs, with a focus on Asia and Latin America regions. To ensure that the Canadian air transportation sector stays competitive in the global market, the federal government proposed modifications to the national air transport policy. The recommendations were tabled in the final report on the Canadian Transport Act review. The most important ones include:

  • a reform of the user-pays policy and an improvement of the sector’s cost competitiveness;
  • a strengthening of the viability, accountability and competitiveness of NAS, among others, through moving to a sharecapital structure for larger airports and divesting the federal government of smaller, federally owned airports, as well as through significant increase of financing for the Airport Capital Assistance Programme to support safer and reliable services at regional and local level;
  • an increase of foreign ownership in Canadian air carriers from the present 25% limit to at least 49% for air carriers operating commercial passenger services, and up to 100% for airlines operating all-freight and specialty air services;
  • the development of the global air hubs to position Canada air transport services to compete internationally.

In June 2012, Canada released its Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation. The Action Plan is a collaborative effort between the government and the aviation industry that seeks to improve fuel efficiency through fleet renewal and upgrades, more efficient air operations, improved capabilities in air traffic management and other supporting measures (e.g. research and development, improved ground operations).

2.2 Marine Transport
At the end of 2014, there were 567 port facilities, 902 fishing harbours and 202 recreational harbours in Canada. Specifically, three categories of ports fall under the National Marine Policy:

  • 18 independently managed Canada Port Authorities (CPAs), including: Halifax, Hamilton, Montréal, Québec, Toronto, Vancouver (Fraser) and Windsor;
  • 29 regional/local ports;
  • 21 remote ports remaining under Transport Canada control.

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System provides a strategic waterway into the North American heartland and includes both ports and locks (8 locks in the Welland Canal and 7 between Montréal and Ontario Lake).

In 2013, the contribution of port authorities to the Canadian annual GDP amounted to CAD 25 billion (or USD 24.27 billion). The marine industry employs directly and indirectly some 250 000 people. The value of Canadian international waterborne trade was CAD 210 billion (or USD 190.2 billion) in 2014, up 4.3% from 2013. In terms of value, the most important commodities carried by water were crude petroleum, gasoline, fuel, grains and agricultural products. In 2013, ten Canadian ports processed more than 5 million tonnes of cargo each. Combined, these same ten ports handled nearly 284 million tonnes of domestic and international cargo, or nearly 60% of the total volume of trade handled by Canadian ports. On the West Coast, the ports of Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert jointly handled nearly 30% of this total, while the ports in Saint John, Halifax, Belledune and St. John’s in Eastern Canada together handled 8.3% of the total. Port Metro Vancouver was Canada’s busiest port in 2014, handling an estimated 123.5 million tonnes of freight, followed by Montréal, which handled an estimated 30.4 million tonnes.

International cruise ships carried close to 1.4 million passengers at major Canadian ports in 2014, down 5% from 2013, mainly in Vancouver (812 000 passengers) and Halifax (217 000). British Columbia Ferries, one of Canada’s largest ferry operators, recorded carrying 6.2 million vehicles and 16.1 million passengers on various routes in 2014, nearly the same as in 2013.

In 2012, the domestic marine sector was responsible for 3.5% of transportation-related GHG emissions. Over the 2000-2012 period, domestic marine GHG emissions increased by 10.3%. This increase is contributed to the growth of the total tonnekilometres, which offset the more widespread use of larger, more efficient vessels during this period59. Starting in 2013, the Canadian Government has adopted strict environmental standards to reduce air emissions from ships navigating in Canadian waters, in line with the ones developed via the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Energy Efficiency Design Index requires newly-built vessels engaged in international marine transportation to meet progressively stricter minimum energy efficiency standards from 2015 onwards. Also, the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan requires all ships to monitor their energy efficiency. These measures are expected to reduce sulphur oxide emissions from ships by up to 96% and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80%. Other marine-related air pollutants should also continue to decline with the 2013 implementation of the North American Emission Control Area in coastal waters, and the Fleet Averaging Regulatory Regime on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.

Although the overall functioning of the marine transport has been assessed positively in the Canadian Transport Act review report, the federal government indicates the need to improve the governance of marine ports, to tackle the underutilisation of assets, in particular of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway as well as underfunding of the Coast Guard and other marine services, especially icebreaking. To remedy the above-mentioned shortfalls, the government recommends, among others, implementing the following policy measures:

  • maintain a user-pays approach to ensure continued financing for infrastructure and operational needs, while also taking steps to improve cost competitiveness with comparable jurisdictions;
  • increase the competitiveness of Canadian shipping and competition in the short sea shipping market, as well as strengthen competitiveness of marine ports;
  • reform and strengthen the Canadian Coast Guard delivery model to ensure it has the mandate, equipment, operations, and sustainable funding to support marine commerce and enforce safety, security, and sovereignty;
  • develop a new federal policy vision and regulatory regime to strengthen the safety and reliability of marine transport in the Arctic.

2.3 Rail Transport
In 2014, the Canadian rail system comprised 45 742 km of railway tracks, some 4.7% (or 2 261 km) less than in 2005 when the rationalisation of railway system has been initiated. Canadian National (CN) owns 49.2%, Canadian Pacific (CP) owns 26.1% and other railways own the remaining 24.7 % of the railway tracks. The rail system also includes: 19 intermodal terminals operated by either CN or CP to run truck/rail and container intermodal services and 23 rail border crossings with US. At present, over 40 common carrier railways operate in Canada and the industry offers around 60 000 direct and indirect jobs.

Canadian annual passenger traffic (measured in thousands of passenger-kilometres) decreased to 1.33 billion in 2014 (a decline of 2.8% since 2013 and of 5.4% compared to 2009). On the other hand, rail freight carried in 2014 was estimated at 320.2 million tonnes, up 6.6% from 2013. As detailed in Figure 3, most rail freight consisted of bulk commodities, with a record 550 000 carloads of grain transported during the 2013-2014 crop year (a 22% increase as compared with the 2012-2013 period). In 2014, the value of international trade traffic by rail grew by 7.3% in relation to 2013.

Figure 3: Volume of Canadian rail freight by top commodities

In 2012, the rail sector emitted 4.6% more transportation-related GHG emissions than the previous year. Freight operations accounted for 97% of rail GHG emissions. Despite efficiency improvements, rail GHG emissions in 2012 increased by 15.6% compared to 2000, which can be attributed to increases in freight activity. In 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding between Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada was renewed to encourage voluntary emissions’ reductions.

In 2014, there were 1 221 recorded railway accidents, up 14% from 2013. These accidents caused 57 fatalities, 30% less than the average over the last 6 years.

In its final report from the Canadian Transportation Act review, the federal government proposes to the Canadian parliament to focus on the following priorities in the railway transportation policy:

  • the establishment of a mechanism to determine the state of Canada’s rail transportation infrastructure, including gaps in Canada’s long-term requirements;
  • a renewal of the ministerial mandate for gateway and corridor strategies in order to provide leadership on efforts to link trade and transportation and consider budgetary allocations to support investment in transport corridors;
  • the improvement of the fluidity of passenger railway services and the increase of the use of private sector approaches for federally-operated passenger rail services;
  • the modification and enhancement of the mandate of the Canadian Transportation Agency, so that it enjoys greater legislative and regulatory powers and has access to all relevant data and information to effectively execute its mandate;
  • the mitigation of risks to public health and safety when carrying dangerous goods by rail;
  • the determination of the steps required to harmonise the deployment of safety technologies in Canada with those in the US in order to strengthen the safety of the rail network.

2.4 Road Transport
Canada has as much as 900 000 km of public roads. Approximately 34% of the road network is paved, while 66% is unpaved. Four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) account for over 77% of the total road length. In 2013, the National Highway System (NHS) included over 38 000 km (4% of the road network), of which 73% was classified as core routes, 12% as feeder routes and 15% as northern and remote routes.

In 2013, more than 23 million road motor vehicles were registered in Canada, up 2.9% from 2012. The vast majority (92%) were vehicles weighing less than 4.5 tonnes, while 4.3% were medium and heavy trucks weighing 4.5 tonnes or more, and 3.3% were other vehicles such as buses, motorcycles and mopeds.

Trucking in Canada employs over 260 000 drivers and somewhere in the order of 400 000 Canadians overall. It’s a diverse industry made up of a few large companies but dominated by thousands of small and medium-sized businesses and independent owner-operators. As of December 2014, there were 62 805 businesses whose primary activity was trucking transportation. Trucks move 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs within Canada and almost two thirds, by value, of Canadian trade with the US. In 2014, around 10.7 million two-way trucking movements were recorded at the Canada/US border points, similar to the traffic observed in 2013. Over 66% of these movements were related to Canadian registered trucks. The value of trucking traffic between Canada and the US totalled CAD 371 billion (or USD 335.9 billion) in 2014, up 10.6% from 2013.

Over the period of 2004-2013, road casualty collisions decreased by 17%, although more vehicles were on the road. The fatality rate decreased from 1.4 to 0.8 over that period. As detailed in Figure 4, with 54.7 road fatalities per 1 million of inhabitants in 2013, Canada was ranked in the middle of the list of the countries surveyed by the OECD. This number was almost twice as high as the one for Sweden but nearly half the number of road fatalities reported for the US. In 2014, Canada amended the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to further strengthen Canada’s vehicle safety regime. These amendments included doubling criminal financial penalties and giving the Minister of Transport the authority to order vehicle manufacturers to issue notices of defect or non-compliance.

Figure 4: Road accidents, death fatalities per 1 million inhabitants by countries in 2013

In 2012, road transport was responsible for 80.3% of transportation-related GHG emissions and 19% of total Canadian GHG emissions. From 2000 to 2012, road transportation GHG emissions grew by 12%. Despite significant improvements in fuel efficiency, this increase can be attributed to the growth in passenger and freight activity, a shift of activity towards more GHG intensive modes of transportation (i.e. larger vehicles such as SUVs and more powerful engines) and a continuing predominance of carbon intensive fuels. Federal regulations have established progressively stricter GHG emission standards for passenger automobile and light trucks of model year 2017 and beyond, building on the existing standards covering model years 2011 to 2016.

The final report from the Canadian Transportation Act Review indicates the need to take the following policy measures, among others, with regards to road transportation:

  • the development of a clear performance and evidence-based National Framework on Transportation and Logistics in collaboration with the provinces, territories, and industry;
  • the establishment of a mechanism to determine the state of Canada’s transportation infrastructure, including gaps in Canada’s long-term requirements;
  • a renewal of the ministerial mandate for gateway and corridor strategies in order to provide leadership on efforts to link trade and transportation and consider budgetary allocations to support investment in transport corridors;
  • the development of a national regulatory framework that will harmonize Canada’s approach with the US legislation regarding the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads;
  • an increase of private financing in transportation infrastructure projects;
  • the development of the performance-based emission regulations for all modes of transportation, while providing support for technological innovation (North American harmonisation should be the goal).

2.5 Urban Transport
Public transport in Canadian urban areas generates around CAD 10 billion (or USD 7.8 billion) of GDP and employs directly and indirectly about 70 000 people. Roughly 80% of commuters in Canadian metropolitan areas travelled to work by car in 2011 (the only available data), while 12% took public transport, 7% walked or bicycled, and 1% used a motorcycle/moped or other means82. Public transit usage was the highest in four large Canadian cities: Toronto (23.3% of commuters), Montréal (22.2% of commuters), Ottawa- Gatineau (20.1% of commuters) and Vancouver at 19.7%. In 2013, public transit systems carried 2.05 billion passengers, an increase of 1.1% compared to 2012.

While the government of Canada has invested approx. CAD 4.7 billion (or some USD 4.2 billion) in urban transport since 2006, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) indicates that “transit capital requirements are growing faster than investments [and] critical infrastructure needs remain unfunded”.

Annual R&D and innovation spending in the Canadian transit industry is estimated to be CAD 92 million (or USD 72 million). Major international bus and train suppliers operate research, development, design and production centres in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. Other Canadian companies are known for technology and design innovation in automatic train control, planning and operations software, safety and video surveillance systems, transit shelters, electronic signs and customer information systems. Together, Canadian transit suppliers exported CAD 751 million (or USD 751.3 million) worth of goods in 2012.

As part of the long-term action plan, the federal government, in its final report from the review of the Canadian Transportation Act, recognises the need to invest in technologies for noise, visual, and environmental mitigation of high volume freight corridors, particularly in urban areas. It also recommends to separate freight rail and passenger rail networks to enable connections between and within urban and suburban areas. Moreover, the government sees the need to promote short sea shipping as a mechanism to alleviate congestion in urban areas and reduce Canada’s growing GHG and air pollutant emission levels. In order to support the long-term health of Canadians and to reduce the risks associated with the public and freight rail interactions, the government intends to support the relocation of rail infrastructure outside of the dense urban centres, and the implementation of technologies or infrastructure aimed at improving the safety of the rail/urban interface, with safer alternatives including road/rail grade separations, tunnels, and robust noise/visual barriers. It also wants to encourage municipal governments to establish a buffer zone around new rail developments in order to provide separation from residential development and mitigate future concerns over rail and logistics operations.

Link to the full publication: http://bit.ly/573-441

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