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Harper government strengthens world-class tanker safety system

News Release

May 13, 2014 – Saint John, New Brunswick – Transport Canada

The Government of Canada announced today it is further strengthening Canada’s already robust tanker safety system. These measures act on recommendations by the independent Tanker Safety Expert Panel and build on other studies, as well as input received from provincial governments, Aboriginal groups and marine stakeholders from across Canada. These safety measures are in addition to those announced by the Government of Canada in March 2013.

The improvements announced today work towards preventing spills in the first place, cleaning them up quickly if they do occur, and making sure polluters pay. Implementing these new measures represents an ongoing commitment to the Canadian public towards Canada’s world-class tanker safety system, which is essential to protect our marine environments and responsibly transport our natural resources. These measures include:

  • Modernizing Canada’s marine navigation system. Canada is a member of the International Maritime Organization, and will take a leadership role in implementing e-Navigation, which reduces the risk of an oil spill by providing accurate and real-time information and data on navigational hazards, weather and ocean conditions to vessel operators and marine authorities to minimize the potential of collisions and accidents.
  • Establishing new area response planning partnerships for each of the following regions that have current or projected high levels of tanker traffic: the southern portion of British Columbia; Saint John and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick; Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia; Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec. Oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in these four areas will take into consideration the area’s geography, environmental sensitivities, and oil tanker traffic volumes.
  • Supporting Aboriginal communities so that they can participate in marine emergency preparedness and response planning around their communities.
  • Amending legislation to provide the use of alternate response measures such as the use of chemical dispersants and burning spilled oil during emergencies, and to clarify the Canadian Coast Guard’s authority to use and to authorize these measures when there is likely to be a net environmental benefit.
  • Strengthening the polluter pay regime by introducing legislative and regulatory amendments that will enhance Canada’s domestic Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF). These amendments will:
    • remove the fund’s existing per-incident liability limit of $161 million in order to make available the full amount of the SOPF for a single incident—currently around $400 million;
    • ensure compensation is provided to eligible claimants and recover these costs from industry through a levy, in the unlikely event that all domestic and international pollution funds have been exhausted; and
    • compensate those who have lost earnings due to an oil spill even if their property has not been contaminated by a spill.


“Our government is committed to further strengthening an already robust oil tanker safety system with an excellent record, and has acted upon the independent advice of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel to improve it.”

“With these new measures in place, we are enhancing Canada’s world class tanker safety system, one that provides maximum protection to the Canadian public and our environment.”

“These new measures reflect the depth of our commitment to transport resources responsibly. Implementing these new safety measures is a major step towards making Canada a world leader in all areas relating to oil spills from ships. We are continuing to engage Aboriginal communities to achieve this goal, by sharing their knowledge and skills toward improving spill prevention, preparedness, and response.”

The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport


Ashley Kelahear
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa



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