The Government of Canada re-introduced legislation to improve the country's railway safety including imposing tougher monetary penalties, strengthening safety requirements and creating whistleblower protection.
The proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act will encourage rail companies to create and maintain a culture of safety and penalize rule breakers by enabling the Government of Canada to:
- Crack down on rule breakers with tough new monetary penalties and increased judicial penalties.
- Strengthen safety requirements for railway companies.
- Create whistleblower protection for employees who raise safety concerns.
- Require each railway to have an executive legally responsible for safety.
The Railway Safety Act, which came into force in 1989, gives Transport Canada the responsibility for overseeing railway safety in Canada. In addition to strengthening Transport Canada's regulatory oversight and enforcement capacities, the proposed amendments are consistent with the legislative frameworks of other transportation modes.
Under Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada committed $44 million over five years, starting in 2009, to enable the government to pursue a robust national rail safety program based on detailed inspections, safety management system audits and enforcement action in cases of non-compliance.