Opening Remarks to the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
Jean Laporte

Chief Operating Officer
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
25 November 2010

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Good morning, senators and members of the committee.

Thank you for inviting the Transportation Safety Board to speak here this morning. I'd like to take this opportunity to make a few opening remarks.

The TSB's mandate is to advance transportation safety by conducting independent investigations, including public inquiries when necessary, into selected occurrences in the four federally regulated transportation modes: marine, pipeline, rail and air. Our goal is to determine what happened, and why, so that hopefully it doesn't happen again. In other words, we investigate for causes and contributing factors. We also identify safety deficiencies, make recommendations to eliminate or reduce these deficiencies, and report publicly on our work.

In March of this year, the TSB published a safety Watchlist, identifying nine transportation issues that posed the greatest risks to Canadians. Some of these issues were mode-specific-accidents involving loss of life on fishing vessels, for instance-whereas others were multi-modal. At the TSB, we view the Watchlist as a blueprint for change, a push, if you will, to help industry and regulators to work together at improving safety. And that's exactly what has happened. In the months after the Watchlist's release, we have met with industry members and associations, and with Transport Canada. This led to a number of successes. The government has given our recommendations the highest priority, concrete action has been taken, and there is more underway. A copy of our Watchlist and the supporting fact sheets have been provided to you for information

We also advance safety in other ways. For instance, we periodically review trends and developments in transportation safety, identifying risks that need to be addressed by government and the industry. One such review formed the basis of our ongoing investigation into Fishing Vessel Safety. This Safety Issues Investigation, launched last year, seeks to explain why, from 2004-2009, Canada's fishing industry averaged one death per month. We have since completed the data-gathering stage, and after speaking with fishermen and industry members from Newfoundland to British Columbia, we are now analyzing this data. A final report is some months away, but we have nonetheless identified several key issues, including:

  • operator knowledge of vessel stability
  • training
  • fatigue, and
  • fisheries resource management plans.

None of these issues, however, are related specifically to lighthouses, nor are lighthouses featured as a risk on our safety Watchlist.

The TSB has reviewed the Senate Committee's terms of reference for its study on lighthouses, and we have not identified any issues of mutual concern. Although it is possible that lighthouses might be peripherally involved in a transportation occurrence, the TSB has never made a recommendation involving lighthouses or lighthouse operations, nor have we issued a safety communication on the subject. Lighthouses are not considered an area of concern, nor have any of TSB's marine investigations identified any risks associated with lighthouses that have the potential to degrade transportation safety.

In short, we are aware of no direct linkage between your study and our mandate.

I thank you for your time. My colleague Brian Lewis and I are now prepared to answer any questions you may have.