Bill C-33-An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act

Rob Smith, Phil Benson, Sukh Dhaliwal (Liberal Surrey Newton) & Bill Brehl Published: March 17th 2011
Source: Rob Smith - National Legislative Director
Sisters and Brothers,

On March 10, 2011 the Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities met on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to consider Bill C-33-An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act. Phil Benson lobbyist for Teamsters Canada put forward amendments to this Bill on behalf of the TCRC which included addressing scheduling and fatigue science as well as confidential reporting by employees of contraventions.

Brother Benson and I attended this session which consisted of the committee going through Bill C-33 clause by clause. The evidence transcript along with the report to the House of Commons can be found at the following links:

This is a very good Bill for Rail Labour and we thank the Federal Government for listening to the recommendations from this organization through submission and presentations during the Railway Safety Act Review Consultations.

Fraternal Regards,

Rob Smith
National Legislative Director
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
130 Albert Street, Suite 1710
Ottawa ON K1P 5G4
Tel: 613-235-1828
Fax: 613-235-1069

Teamsters win on the Rail Safety Act

Published: March 16th 2011
Teamsters Canada

Ottawa, March 16, 2010 -- The House Committee on Transportation concluded its clause-by-clause reading of the Amendments to the Rail Safety Act on March 10. It appears, other than house keeping changes, the only amendments accepted by the Committee were Teamsters amendments, and those amendments were supported unanimously by all Parties. When the Bill becomes law, the House Committee will be able to review regulations made under the Act concerning safety.

The Committee accepted the testimony of the Teamsters about the climate of fear at rail companies, and it accepted an amendment with permits workers to make complaints about safety directly to Transport Canada rather than only to a company’s safety officer. The final amendment places the principle of “fatigue science” and “scheduling” in the same sentence.

Unfortunately, our fourth amendment that would have protected TRC work in Canada could not be worked into this Bill for technical reasons – we will continue to use other avenues to push this item forward.

Teamsters Canada would like to thank Mr. Rob Merrifield, Minister of State for Transportation, for his understanding of rail issues in bringing this Bill to the House of Commons. Mr. Brian Jean MP (Conservative), Parliamentary Secretary of Transportation, was instrumental in building consensus for our amendments which was supported by all Conservative members on the Committee. Mr. Jeff Watson MP (Conservative) was especially critical of the companies in their dealing with grievances. On the Opposition side of the Committee, Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal MP Surrey-Newton (Liberal) was a stalwart of support as was Mr. Peter Julian MP (NDP) New Westminster who was subbing for Mr. Dennis Bevington MP (NPD) Western Artic. Without the Bloc’s support the Bill would never made it out of Committee, and that is very important. Transport Canada Rail Safety Directorate as usual did its professional job throughout the long process of getting a Bill to this stage.

We expect the Committee will make its report to the House of Commons on the week of March 22nd. Though the chances are small, it may be possible for the Bill to be voted on with unanimous support, which it has from all parties. If not, once it is reported as this stage, we would expect the Bill to return to the House of Commons as amended if an election interrupts its passage through Parliament.

The Amendment to the Rail Safety Act is an immense improvement over what exists today, especially so with the Teamster amendments. This is the result of at least six years of work on behalf of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Locomotive Engineers, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Maintenance of Way and Teamsters Canada. The Bill was a good Bill because of all that work. Getting the 40 or 50 words added to it through our amendments was just icing on the cake.

Wording of the amendments and our interpretation of them will not be available until next week.

The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.