Role and Structure
The Agency is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that makes decisions on a wide range of economic matters involving federally-regulated modes of transportation (air, rail and marine).
Along with its roles as an economic regulator and an aeronautical authority, the Agency works to facilitate accessible transportation, and serves as a dispute resolution authority over certain transportation rate and service complaints.
The Canada Transportation Act is the Agency's enabling statute to implement the federal government's transportation policy. The Agency also shares responsibility for administering other Acts and their related regulations, including the Canada Marine Act, the Pilotage Act, the Coasting Trade Act and the Railway Safety Act.
Legislative amendments that received Royal Assent on June 22, 2007 stipulate that the Agency is made up of five full-time Members, including the Chair and Chief Executive Officer, and the Vice-Chair. (Up to three temporary Members may also be named.) The Members, who are all based in the National Capital Region, are supported in their decision-making process by some 250 employees and administrative staff.
A decision or order of the Agency may be made an order of the Federal Court or of any superior court and is enforceable in the same manner as such an order.
Since complaints drive many of the Agency's processes, it has developed ways of handling complaints quickly, effectively and fairly. A panel of at least two Members must hear all formal cases and issue decisions.
The Canadian Transportation Agency's organizational structure divides its primary functions – dispute resolution and economic regulation – into two Branches. Within each Branch is housed the expertise in the various subject areas and modes of transportation under its jurisdiction. The Agency is comprised of the following five Branches:
- Chair's Office
- Corporate Management Branch
- Legal Services Branch
- Dispute Resolution Branch
- Industry Regulation and Determinations Branch
The Chair's Office includes the Internal Audit and Evaluation Services Directorate, the Communications Directorate and the Secretariat.
The Internal Audit and Evaluation Services Directorate is responsible for providing objective assessments about the design and operation of management practices, control systems and information, in keeping with modern comptrollership principles.
The Communications Directorate plays an active role in ensuring that Canadians understand their rights and obligations as well as the mandate of the Agency. In addition, it plans and evaluates the Agency's communication activities.
The Secretariat issues all decisions and orders of the Agency and publishes them on the Web site in both official languages. It is also responsible for maintaining a record of any rule, order, decision and regulation of the Agency as required by the Canada Transportation Act. The Secretariat is also the point of contact for obtaining copies of Agency decisions and orders.
The Corporate Management Branch supports the overall function of the Agency by providing corporate services related to human resources, strategic planning, finance, electronic information systems, records management and library services.
The Legal Services Branch provides legal advice and counsel to Agency Members and staff in all matters brought before the Agency and ensures that the rules of fairness are followed in the processes leading to a decision or an order. The Branch also plays a major role in developing and applying the Agency's procedures and regulations. It represents the Agency before the Courts, including the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, when Agency Decisions are appealed. It also actively participates in Agency hearings.
The Dispute Resolution Branch processes various complaints, disputes and applications arising from users, shippers, carriers and others concerning transportation services, rates, fees and charges, terms and conditions of carriage, accessibility and other matters in the federally-regulated transportation system (air, rail and marine modes).
- provides effective advice and recommendations to Members in the resolution of disputes through the issuance of Decisions and Orders.
- spearheads the development of codes of practice for transportation providers to eliminate undue obstacles for persons with disabilities in accessing the federally-regulated transportation system, including inter-provincial bus transportation.
- responds to new legislative requirements that increase the Agency's mandate in several areas of jurisdiction, including rail noise and vibration complaints and issues concerning public passenger rail services.
In addition, the Branch has an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Services Directorate. ADR is voluntary and benefits disputing parties by giving them an opportunity to reach a solution on their own terms. It is also a more economical and faster process than the formal quasi-judicial process of the Agency.
The Industry Regulation and Determinations Branch establishes, administers and enforces the applicable legislative provisions, regulations, financial tests, publication/insurance and operating requirements and standards that govern entry into and exit from the Canadian transportation market. It implements the Agency's economic regulatory mandate in various areas of the national transportation system such as:
- licensing air and rail carriers;
- protecting Canadian marine vessel operators' interests when authorizing foreign vessels to operate in Canadian waters;
- determining the railway revenue cap for the movement of Western grain;
- determining railway costs;
- auditing railway companies' accounting and publication/statistics-generating systems;
- determining the Net Salvage Value of rail lines;
- participating in the negotiation as well as the implementation of international air agreements; and
- administrating international air tariffs regimes as they apply to passenger fares, cargo rates, and terms and conditions of transportation.