Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to speak today with respect to Bill C-52. I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe peoples. I come with respect for this land I am on today and for the past, present and future peoples who reside here.
Canada's vast and unique geography and comparatively small population necessitate an efficient and accessible national transportation system to move people and trade from coast to coast to coast. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed challenges in our national transportation network that have disrupted supply chains and left passengers bearing the brunt of delays, cancellations and frustrations resulting from same. These challenges exposed barriers to accessible transportation and highlighted a need for more collaboration, more accountability and more transparency within the system.
That is why I come today. We introduced Bill C-52, the enhancing transparency and accountability in the transportation system act. Today it is my pleasure to outline the rationale for the benefits of this proposed legislation. Bill C-52 would take concrete action to address transportation sector accountability, transparency and accessibility concerns that have had wide-ranging effects across our transportation system.
The bill focuses on three areas of the federal transportation system. Part one of the bill proposes a new air transportation accountability act. This proposed act would provide the authority to create regulations that would require airports, airlines and other operators to create service standards related to passenger flights. The activities for which standards are to be developed would be defined in regulation. They could include things that directly impact the passenger and their experience on a flight and activities that happen even beyond the aircraft itself.
Examples could include how it would take for a passenger's bag to arrive on the baggage carousel after the flight arrives or the expected wait times to enter security screening. In addition, air sector operators subject to these regulations would be required to publish their performance against these service standards and explain publicly the extent to which they have been met, to ensure transparency.
We have seen in the past what poor communication and a lack of accountability and transparency can do to our air transportation system. The congestion issues experienced across our large hub airports last summer and over the winter holiday period were significant. It is time that we strengthened the accountability and transparency of our air transportation system by creating service standards for air sector operators.
This regulation-making power would help ensure that there are clear standards to meet, proper coordination between the parties to meet them and clear information available about the sector's success or failure in meeting those standards. This would ensure transparency for travellers and operators alike and also support better co-operation and communication among operators to improve the customer's experience.
This proposed legislation would also enable the minister to request information from airport operators, air carriers and any entity that provides flight-related services at an airport. The intent is not to create new regular reporting requirements but rather to establish the ability to request information that may be necessary in the development of policies to improve Canada's air transportation system.
Canada is signatory to various international obligations through treaties, conventions and agreements, such as the Chicago Convention and bilateral air transport agreements.
Bill C-52 would help strengthen as well as maintain Canada's international connectivity by allowing the Minister of Transport to direct airport operators with scheduled global flights to take measures to uphold Canada's international commitments and ensure that there is a consistent approach across all airports with international commercial services.
I also recognize that aircraft noise is an area of great concern for communities located near airports, for travellers and for the aviation industry. That is why the proposed act would ensure that there is a consistent formal noise public notice and consultation regime in place. This requirement would be placed on airports meeting a threshold of 60,000-plus aircraft landing and take-off moments for three consecutive years. The airports that currently meet this threshold are Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. As passenger levels continue to recover, more airports are expected to be captured by this noise notice and consultation process.
The proposed legislation would affirm the airport operator as the appropriate point of contact for the public regarding aircraft noise by requiring airport operators to establish a noise management committee if one is not in use presently. The committee would include representation from, at minimum, the airport operator, Nav Canada, the airlines serving the airport and the local municipality. The bill also outlines public notice requirements for temporary changes to flight paths or airspace design at airports and notice and consultation requirements for permanent changes. If requirements for public notice and consultation on noise were not met, the act would establish a complaints process to be led by the Canadian Transportation Agency. These changes would ensure greater transparency and accountability when it comes to alternative ways in which our airspace is designed and used and the related impacts on the surrounding communities.
The impacts of swift climate change are more apparent than ever and more needs to be done. Climate change adaptation plans are instrumental in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing our airports for the anticipated impacts of climate change on their operations as well as their managed assets. Many Canadian airports are already taking action and have made significant investments to reduce their carbon footprint, namely by investing in infrastructure projects that are high-performing and efficient as well as resilient. Adopting electric vehicles for their ground support equipment and fleet has been a great start.
The proposed legislation seeks to strengthen the standards as well as standardize our airports' climate actions. This proposed legislation would require airport authorities with at least four million annual passengers to develop comprehensive, five-year climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. This threshold currently includes the Toronto Pearson Airport as well as Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary airports.
Under the proposed legislation, these plans would include the following. First, each airport authority would be required to send a greenhouse gas emission reduction target providing a clear direction towards a more sustainable future. Second, the climate change and adaptation plans would entail a detailed description of the current and anticipated impacts of climate change on the airports' operations and assets managed by the airport authority. Lastly, the plan would include a comprehensive set of actions to be taken to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
These requirements, which are similar to the requirements for the Canadian port authorities under Bill C-33, the strengthening the port system and railway safety in Canada act, would ensure that Canada's largest airport authorities are publicly transparent about the environmental impacts they have. Under Canada's aviation climate change action plan, Transport Canada and other key departments will continue to engage and work closely with Canadian airport authorities to support and advance their decarbonization efforts.
Finally, the bill contains provisions requiring that federally incorporated airport authorities publish information regarding the diversity of their directors and members of senior management. These provisions are consistent with requirements that already exist for companies incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act. They are intended to ensure that federally incorporated authorities act in a way that is consistent with federal government standards and reflects Canadian society and our values here throughout this great nation.
Part 2 of the bill would introduce amendments to the Canada Transportation Act to support a transportation system that is barrier-free. Persons with disabilities currently represent approximately 16% of the world's population. In our country, more than 6.2 million people aged 15 and older have a disability. That is one in five Canadians. Of the 2.2 million Canadians with a disability who used federally regulated transportation in 2019 and 2020, 63% faced a barrier. We must do more, and we must be better, to ensure that persons with disabilities have the same rights, opportunities and quality of life as each and every Canadian enjoys.
Medical advances and new assistive devices and technologies have made it more possible for persons with disabilities to travel, meaning that an accessible transportation system is more important now than ever before. However, there continue to be incidents of persons with disabilities experiencing barriers in their travel journey, along with a lack of accountability and transparency by regulated entities.
As a priority sector in the Accessible Canada Act, Canadians expect a national transportation system that will help to advance the government's commitment to a barrier-free Canada by 2040. This means ensuring that there is a framework in place to identify and remove barriers and prevent new barriers, so that persons with disabilities can travel seamlessly throughout their journey.
That is why improved data on accessibility in transportation will provide important insights into the lived experiences and diverse needs of travellers with disabilities and the barriers they face. In fact, the absence of data was a key finding from the Auditor General's “Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities” audit report, published this past March.
The proposed bill, Bill C-52, introduces amendments to the Canada Transportation Act to enable regulations to be made applicable to federally regulated transportation service providers, such as air carriers and interprovincial ferries, as well as passenger trains; to collect and provide data on key accessibility metrics to the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency; and to set up a process for handling accessibility complaints to support an accessible transportation system.
The proposed changes would strengthen the accessibility performance and its monitoring as follows: First, they would create standards for reporting accessibility-related data to the Minister of Transport and the CTA, the Canadian Transportation Agency, which could include complaints, to support the realization of a transportation system without barriers for all persons. Second, they would allow the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency to publish accessibility data, which would provide Canadians with a greater awareness of the barriers experienced by travellers with disabilities and direct decision-makers in taking the actions needed to achieve real change. Third, they would ensure that all regulated entities have a process in place for handling accessibility complaints and require that records of these complaints be retained.
Improved data metrics on accessibility barriers in transportation would allow the government to act appropriately and quickly on issues impacting barrier-free transportation. This would drive change for Canadians with disabilities. This is an important first step to ensuring that we make the transportation system more seamless, more accessible and inclusive for all.
Lastly, part 3 of the bill would introduce amendments to the Canada Marine Act to enhance transparency and accountability for Canada's port authorities and how they set their fees.
The Government of Canada is proud of its port governance system, which, in 1998, established the Canada port authorities and charged them with managing our country's most strategic ports as part of Canada's strategic trade corridors. While these port authorities are incorporated by the federal government, they operate under a carefully constructed governance framework. This allows them to make the strategic, commercially oriented decisions and act credibly in the marketplace.
As every Canadian knows, the ports are key hubs in our supply chains. Ports are where rail, road and marine modes intersect to support export and import markets. They are, in fact, where road meets rail, which meets water and air.
Now, more than ever, in the wake of a pandemic, supply chain disruptions, climate change events and labour unrest, our port authorities are being called upon to be more adaptable, as well as more responsive to a constantly evolving context, creating fluidity and, once again, strategically placing this country to perform and strengthen our international trade performance.
With adaptability and responsiveness, however, comes an increased need for transparency. Some port users and stakeholders have expressed concerns about the way Canada port authorities establish the fees that they charge to industries and sectors. Some of these same voices have raised similar concerns regarding lease rates for terminal operations.
The government recognizes and is committed to ensuring that port authorities have the tools they need to be financially self-sufficient and self-sustaining, as well as to meet their business plans, as established by their respective boards. At the same time, we are committed to having a transportation system whose operators are transparent and accountable to their users, as well as their stakeholders.
We recognize that there is room for improvement in terms of oversight of our Canada port authorities. That is why the measures being proposed to amend the Canada Marine Act seek to align Canada port authorities' actions with modern experiences and, more importantly, expectations of transparency and accountability.
As managers of key public assets, port authorities are expected to carry out their operations while remaining responsive to users, industry and stakeholders. Proposed Bill C-52 would require Canada port authorities to follow certain principles when establishing or revising fees, along with the related complaint process. Moreover, it would create an authority for the Governor in Council to make regulations to set out dispute resolution.
While the autonomous nature of Canada port authorities would be maintained, as well as their capacity to generate the revenues they need as critical components of their supply chains and the infrastructure attached to them, the overall proposal would strengthen the government's strategic oversight. It would also provide a consistent approach across port authorities to enhance their responsiveness to port users and to be more transparent to their operations with respect to fixing fees and leases.