June 22, 2023 | Circular No. 11537

Dear Member,

The House of Commons adjourned for an extended summer break yesterday (June 21), meaning that it will not resume sitting until the fall parliamentary session begins on September 18.  This marks the end of a very busy legislative session that saw the introduction of a number of bills with a direct impact on the marine and transportation sector. We have provided below a summary of some of the key marine-related legislative developments that occurred during the current session and the major initiatives we can expect to see this fall:

Recent Bills in Parliament

Bill C-47 (also known as the Budget Implementation Act) is a massive omnibus bill that contains a wide range of legislative proposals, including a number of proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act that are designed to increase marine safety and environmental protection by imposing certain new obligations on ship Masters and crew members.

The Federation appeared before the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans last month to express concern over the potential impact of some of these obligations, especially as relates to the Minister’s proposed new ability to require the ship’s Master and crew to provide “any information” that is appropriate to assess or deal with risks to marine safety.  We believe this casts a very wide net as to the nature and extent of information the Master or crew may be required to disclose, and could potentially interfere with established safety protocols and reporting procedures on board. We also expressed concern over the introduction of a new requirement on the Master to “take all reasonable measures to ensure the protection of the marine environment” and recommended that the term “reasonable measures” be clarified to encompass any measure taken in accordance with applicable international law.  We also proposed an amendment to ensure that the Master can only face criminal liability for failing to take all reasonable measures to protect the marine environment in cases of willful and serious acts of pollution, as per international law and Part XII of the UNCLOS Convention.

Although the Committee made several references to our concerns in its report to the full Senate, Bill C-47 ultimately proceeded to third reading without being amended, and is expected to be passed before the Senate adjourns for its summer break at the end of next week.

Bill C-33 (also known as the Strengthening the Ports System and Railway Safety in Canada Act) is an extensive piece of legislation which amends several statutes that impact the international shipping industry, including the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Railway Safety Act and the Customs Act.  The bill’s primary focus is on infrastructure investment and port governance, and on increasing the efficiency, resilience and security of the marine transportation system – including by giving the government greater flexibility to intervene in port and shipping operations when warranted. Bill C-33 was introduced in the House of Commons in October 2022 and was still at second reading stage when the House adjourned yesterday.  We therefore expect the bill to be referred to the Standing Committee on Transport this fall, at which time we will submit written comments and possibly request an in-person appearance.

Bill C-52 (also known as the Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in the Transportation System Actwas introduced in the House of Commons on June 20 and would, among other things, amend the Canada Marine Act to require Canada Port Authorities to follow certain principles when establishing or charging port fees.  The bill would also create a process by means of which port users and tenants could challenge a new or revised fee through the Canadian Transportation Agency.  Given that Bill C-52 was introduced just before the House adjourned on June 21, it will not proceed to second reading or committee deliberation until after the summer break.  For additional information, please refer to CL 11535 sent out yesterday.

Upcoming Policy / Legislative Initiatives

In addition to the above, other marine/transport-related items that are likely to be on the government’s policy and legislative agenda over the coming months / year include the following:

Supply Chain Task Force:  We expect to see further work to advance the recommendations of the National Supply Chain Task Force, including the development of a long-term roadmap for better planning and coordinating infrastructure investments that will be required to support Canada’s future trade growth.  This will be supported by a plan (expected by the end of 2023) to improve the efficiency of the current impact assessment and permitting process for major infrastructure projects, which will focus on clarifying timelines, mitigating inefficiencies and improving engagement and partnerships. We also expect to see movement on the creation of a Transportation Supply Chain office, for which Budget 2023 has already allocated $27.2 million in funding.

Liner Shipping Review:  The government is expected to undertake a review of the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act over the coming year, which will likely build on the work that Transport Canada already did on this issue in 2022 (and with respect to which we submitted detailed comments on the importance of maintaining the ability of shipping lines to enter into cooperative operational and capacity-sharing agreements).  The Federation will be closely following the progress of the current review and will be reaching out Transport Canada to better understand the scope of the review process and related timelines.

Forced and Child Labour: We expect to see the introduction of new legislation ( by the end of 2024) to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains, with a view to ensuring that importers address their supply chain vulnerabilities and engage in production that promotes Canadian values. This follows the passage of a related bill (S-211) in Parliament this spring, which prohibits the importation of goods manufactured or produced by forced or child labour, and introduces a public reporting regime requiring private sector entities – including importers – to report on the measures taken to prevent and reduce the risk of forced labour or child labour being used by them or their supply chains. Bill S-211 will come into effect on January 1, 2024 and the first reporting deadline for importers and others will be in May 2024.

Canada Labour Code:  The government has reiterated its commitment to introducing amendments to the Canada Labour Code before the end of 2023 to prohibit the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout, and improve the process for reviewing activities that must be maintained to ensure continued pubic health and safety during a work stoppage.  Labour Canada initiated stakeholder consultations on this issue in late 2022, and the Federation has submitted preliminary comments questioning whether the proposed ban would extend to the use of management to carry out certain operations during a work stoppage, and highlighting the impacts that any future labour instability would have on Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner.  We will continue to engage in the consultative process on this issue throughout 2023.

We have made written submissions on many of the above subjects, which members can read by consulting the “Documents” section or our website under the “Briefs and Submissions” tab.


Karen Kancens