Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities – Civil Aviation Infrastructure in the North-Transport Canada; Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; and Oversight of Civil Aviation-Transport Canada
Civil Aviation Infrastructure in the North—Transport Canada
(Report 6—2017 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada)
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
(Canadian Air Transport Security Authority—Special Examination Report—2015 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada)
Oversight of Civil Aviation—Transport Canada
(Chapter 5—2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada)
18 May 2018
Michael Ferguson, Chartered Professional AccuontantCPA, Chartered AccountantCA
Fellow of the Order of Chartered AccountantsFCA (New Brunswick)
Auditor General of Canada
Madame Chair, thank you for the opportunity to discuss with the Committee our Office’s recent work related to aviation safety. This work includes our fall 2015 special examination report on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, our spring 2012 performance audit report on the oversight of civil aviation by Transport Canada, and our spring 2017 performance audit report on civil aviation infrastructure in the north.
Joining me at the table are Martin Dompierre and Jim McKenzie, principals, and Lucie Talbot, Director, who were responsible for these audits.
In our 2015 special examination of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, we wanted to know if the Authority’s systems and practices were working as intended. We issued the special examination report to the Authority in June 2015, and we have not audited any actions taken by the Authority since then.
In the special examination, we looked at the Authority’s screening operations. We found that the Authority delivered screening services effectively, efficiently, and consistently across Canada and met its regulatory requirements. We also found that the Authority tested, maintained, and planned for the replacement of its screening equipment. However, we did note areas for improvement.
For example, we found that the Authority did not ensure that its screening contractors consistently communicated changes in operating procedures to screening officers. We also found that when security incidents occurred, the screening contractor often did not submit security incident reports. Furthermore, we found that the Authority did not ensure that all elements of the training and certification of its screening officers were completed as required.
These findings are important because screening services are critical to the Authority’s mandate.
In 2012, we examined the oversight of civil aviation by Transport Canada. We presented our report to Parliament in April 2012, and we have not followed up on actions taken by the Department since then.
Transport Canada is responsible for ensuring that Canada’s aviation safety framework meets minimum international standards and that Canada’s safety record compares favourably with other countries.
We found that Transport Canada’s regulatory framework was consistent with standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, but that the Department took too long to address new risks—in some cases, more than 10 years.
As for Transport Canada’s surveillance program, we found significant weaknesses in how the Department had planned and conducted its surveillance of aviation companies. For example, we found that most of the inspection files that we reviewed did not follow the Department’s methodology. In addition, we found that the Department completed only two thirds of the inspections it had planned for the 2010–11 fiscal year. This is significant because the Department selected only higher-risk aviation companies for inspection. Furthermore, the information the Department used to assess high-risk companies that should be inspected was not always available and kept up to date.
We also found that Transport Canada should have identified the number of resources and competencies it needed to plan and conduct inspections and develop a strategy to obtain these resources and competencies. Senior management needed to ensure that staff applied the established methodology.
The audit on civil aviation infrastructure in the north focused on infrastructure needs of remote northern airports and Transport Canada’s leadership in assessing and addressing these needs.
Airports in the north are critical to their communities, particularly those in the 117 remote northern communities that we identified where air travel is the only reliable mode of year-round transportation. These airports support the delivery of essential goods and services, including emergency medical evacuations.
The infrastructure challenges of northern airports have been well documented in various reports and assessments. Many remote northern airports need improved lighting, runways, navigational aids, and better information on weather and runway conditions.
We found that Transport Canada had not taken an active leadership role to facilitate collaborative efforts to assess and address the infrastructure needs of remote northern airports. The Department’s Airports Capital Assistance Program has provided some funding for projects that help remote northern airports meet the Department’s safety regulations and standards. Since its inception in 1995, the program has provided about 140 million dollars for infrastructure projects at 67 of the 117 remote northern airports we examined.
In 2016, Transport Canada surveyed airports across Canada that were eligible for program funding on their infrastructure needs. The airports that responded identified almost 800 million dollars’ worth of projects over the next three years to maintain and enhance airport safety. This included about 100 million dollars’ worth of projects at remote northern airports. Between the 2014–2015 fiscal years and 2016–2017 fiscal years, remote northern airports received about 15 million dollars in funding from the Airports Capital Assistance Program. It is clear that demand for infrastructure funding exceeds the program’s annual budget of 38 million dollars.
Madame Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have. Thank you.