Strategic Plan 2008-2011

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Message from the Chair and CEO

The past fiscal year 2007-2008 has been a period of profound change for the Agency, due to numerous workload and resource challenges, and other factors both external and internal to the organization.  We have continuously adapted our work to this changing environment and, in anticipation of future challenges, we have developed our first-ever multi-year Strategic Plan for 2008-2011 to ensure that the Agency continues to effectively deliver on its mandate.

Our most striking adjustment in the past year was the implementation of a new organizational structure.  This marked the first significant change to Agency branches and directorates in 15 years.  The revamped structure will enhance the efficiency of the organization, provide greater flexibility to reallocate resources where they are most needed, and provide greater learning and career development opportunities to our employees.

However, given the anticipated retirement of one-third of our staff in just a few short years and new legislative responsibilities given to us by Parliament, the Agency's biggest challenges still lie ahead.

With a view to maintaining and enhancing our role in the transparent, fair and efficient regulation of the federal transportation system, our Strategic Plan is based on an overarching objective to continue the Agency's long-standing reputation as a leading Canadian tribunal.  This will be accomplished by focussing on the following five priorities for the organization:

  • dispute resolution and economic regulation as key Agency services;

  • recruiting, retaining, and developing a highly competent workforce;

  • enhancing the Agency's internal and external relations to improve two-way communications with our employees, stakeholders and clients;

  • achieving a national transportation system that is accessible to all Canadians; and

  • implementing initiatives that aim to make the Agency more responsive to change, efficient, innovative and results-oriented.

In setting the course for 2008-2011, the Canadian Transportation Agency has positioned itself to play a leading role in the achievement of a national transportation system that is efficient and accessible for the benefit of the entire country, its economy and all of its citizens.

Geoffrey C. Hare signature

Geoffrey C. Hare
Chair and Chief Executive Officer

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The Canadian Transportation Agency - An Overview

Who We Are

We are one of many Canadian partners helping achieve transportation that works for everyone.  We are 250 case officers, analysts, managers and Members committed to helping create an efficient and accessible national transportation system.  Our responsibilities include:

  • Economic Regulation, to provide approvals, licences, and make decisions on a wide range of matters involving federally-regulated air, rail and marine transportation,

  • Dispute Resolution, to resolve complaints about transportation services, rates, fees and charges,

  • Accessibility, to ensure that our national transportation system is accessible to all persons, particularly those with disabilities, and

  • many other services that support economic vitality and benefit all Canadians.

Vision and Mission

Our Vision is to be a respected, leading tribunal contributing to a competitive and accessible national transportation system efficiently meeting the needs of users and service providers and the Canadian economy.

Our Mission is to assist in achieving a competitive, efficient and accessible transportation system through dispute resolution, essential economic regulation and communication in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

Our Values

  • Integrity.  We act with honesty, fairness and transparency.

  • People.  We treat people with fairness, courtesy and respect, and foster a cooperative, rewarding working environment.

  • Quality Service.  We provide the highest quality services through expertise, professionalism and responsiveness.

  • Communication.  We promote the constructive and timely exchange of views and information.

  • Innovation.  We commit to creative thinking as the driving force to achieve continuous improvement.

  • Accountability.  We take full responsibility for our obligations and commitments.


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Our Operating Environment

Organizational Renewal

2007 was a rewarding year for the Agency and also one of significant change.  We introduced reforms to better manage our workload and improve our services to clients and stakeholders, and we implemented processes to better manage our budget resources.  On the people side, we saw a complete turnover of appointed Members and the retirement of many colleagues who had been with the Agency for many years.

The most profound change was the organizational renewal initiative that reviewed how we do our work, how we are organized and how we manage our people and budget resources.  This initiative was designed to meet a number of challenges head on:

  • The anticipated loss of one third of our workforce to retirement over the next three years.

  • An increasing number of complex dispute cases.

  • New legislative responsibilities.

  • The need for more efficient workload management.

Total Number of New Cases by Fiscal Year
Bar graph showing a significant rise in the total number of new cases by fiscal year from 2005 to 2008

The most striking feature of this renewal is a new organizational structure, which marks the first significant change to the Agency's branches and directorates in 15 years.

Two new Agency branches have been created to reflect a redefinition of our primary business functions, namely Dispute Resolution and Industry Regulation and Determinations.  The Agency's long-established, specialized modal expertise housed in the previous Air and Accessible, as well as Rail and Marine branches are integrated into both new branches.

The new "hybrid" organizational structure will enable us to not only improve our service delivery, it will provide us with the flexibility to resolve workload challenges and enhance our ability to respond to increasingly complex cases in a more efficient and timely way.

A key part of this new structure is the creation of a permanently staffed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) unit.  Experience has shown that ADR, such as mediation, requires fewer resources, tends to be a faster process, and benefits disputing parties by giving them a chance to reach a solution on their own terms.

The new structure will also provide our employees with a greater variety of work, greater mobility in terms of moving to different positions, and greater learning and career development opportunities.

While this new structure represents an important step towards renewing the Agency, it is by no means the only step.  To ensure that we continue providing a superior level of service, we will also be dealing proactively with recruitment and retention, succession planning, training and knowledge transfer.  Further, we will be fostering a culture of innovation, risk-taking, and flexibility.

Through these actions we will continue to succeed in providing real and tangible benefits to the people we serve and the national transportation system, and also build upon our long-standing reputation as a leading Canadian tribunal.

Employee Retirement

The public service today is facing the imminent retirement of an entire generation of workers.  At present, almost 60 percent of public service employees are over the age of 45.  The demographics of aging are even more pronounced in the executive ranks.

These demographic realities are particularly relevant to the Agency, as one third of our employees will be eligible to retire in the next 3 years.  To simply replenish our ranks, we will need to recruit a large number of new employees over the next few years.

To address our recruitment challenge the Agency will promote itself as a workplace of choice to potential recruits, as an organization that touches the lives of Canadians in meaningful ways, fosters innovation and creates opportunities for professional development.

Increased Responsibilities

In the summer of 2007, amendments to the Canada Transportation Act gave the Agency a stronger and broader mandate.  For example, amendments to the Act have now entrenched the Agency's authority to mediate disputes within its jurisdiction as an alternative to its formal adjudication process.

The Agency now has the authority to resolve noise and vibration complaints caused by public passenger service providers and the construction or operation of railways under federal jurisdiction.  The legislative changes have also formally eliminated the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner's position and complaint resolution functions have now been integrated into the Agency's operations.

These amendments, and many others, have significantly increased the Agency's responsibilities and demand for the services we provide.

Increasing Demand for Accessible Transportation

Senior citizens are one of the fastest growing groups in Canada.  There are about 4.3 million seniors in Canada right now, and this number is expected to rise by 80% to 7.8 million by 2026.  That's one out of every five Canadians.  As our population ages and the rate of physical disability increases, the demand for accessible transportation will be even greater.  Our priority is to ensure that we are able to effectively fulfill our mandate of removing undue obstacles to persons with disabilities who travel by air, rail and ferry in the national transportation network.

Senior Population in Canada
Bar graph showing an 80% increase in the senior population in Canada from 2008 to 2026

Outreach and Two-Way Communications

Canadians want a meaningful role in governance.  To facilitate this, government organizations need to build new relationships with citizens and stakeholders.  Education and consultation with our stakeholders are integral to our ability to effectively carry out our mandate.  We will continue to build on outreach and two-way dialogue with those we serve in our society.

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Our Strategic Priorities for 2008-2011

The overall strategic priority for the Agency is to continue to be a leading Canadian tribunal.  To this end, we are committed to setting and achieving high performance  standards, both internally and externally.

The Agency will also foster and develop productive relationships with its stakeholders, clients, the general public, other government agencies and other tribunals.  Internally, we will continue to look at innovative ways to improve our processes to ensure sound and timely decision-making and regulatory approvals.

The Agency's priorities for the 2008-2011 period are:

  1. Effective dispute resolution and economic regulation.

  2. Focussing on our people as our greatest asset.

  3. Enhanced internal and external relations through clear and timely communications.

  4. A more accessible transportation network without undue obstacles to the mobility of persons.

  5. Organizational support and responsiveness through superior business management practices.

Strategic Priorities
Diagram showing all five strategic priorities - each contained in a bubble - linked to each other.  Leading Tribunal in the top bubble.  Below it, the bubbles for Dispute Resolution and Economic Regulation, People, Enhanced Internal/External Relations, Accessible Transportation, and Organizational Support and Responsiveness.

Priority 1:  Dispute Resolution and Economic Regulation

Dispute resolution and economic regulation are two of the Agency's key business functions.  As always, we strive to ensure that our services are effective, responsive, fair and transparent, and weigh the interests of all parties in the national transportation system in a balanced manner.

Our objectives are to:

  • Improve the responsiveness and effectiveness with which disputes are resolved.

  • Promote Alternative Dispute Resolution as a preferred alternative to formal adjudication.

  • Continue to focus on the timely issuance of regulatory authorizations requested by transportation service providers.

A number of factors impact on our ability to act in a responsive and effective manner.  First, since complaints and applications for economic authorities such as licences and permits are client-driven, there is uncertainty in predicting the size and timing of our workloads.  Second, late and improperly completed applications cause delays.  Third, the issues raised are tending to be more complex, requiring more extensive proceedings and analysis.

Despite these challenges, the Agency has opportunities for improving workload management.  With the new organizational structure, dispute resolution and the issuance of regulatory authorities are grouped for all modes of transportation, providing more flexibility in responding to changing demand and reallocating resources to alleviate workload pressures.

The new structure will also result in more consistency in the dispute resolution process and more timely issuance of regulatory authorities.  In addition, through clearer communication, stakeholders will have a better understanding of their responsibilities in meeting deadlines and supplying complete information, resulting in a more timely dispute resolution process.

To further improve efficiency, the Agency has adopted a streamlined decision format which maintains its integrity as a legal document but is more client friendly, more  concise, written in plain language and requires less resources to produce.

Our experience has shown that ADR requires fewer resources for the Agency and parties and tends to produce more timely resolution of disputes than the formal adjudication process.  It also benefits parties by giving them a chance to reach a resolution on their own terms.

Action Summary

  • Simplify the case management and decision-making process to improve the timeliness of decisions.

  • Create a permanently staffed ADR unit to meet the increasing demand for facilitation, mediation, and arbitration.

2008-2011 Performance Targets

IndicatorTargetDate to be Achieved

Percentage of Agency cases resolved within prescribed time limits.

Disputes resolved formally: 65% resolved within 120 days


Determinations: 95% issued within 120 days 2011
Licences: 85% issued within 14 days 2011
Charter Permits: 92% issued within 30 days 2008

Mediation: 100% completed within 30 days (when no extension request)


Priority 2:  People

In the next three years, one third of the Agency's staff will be eligible to retire.  To ensure the transfer of their corporate knowledge and expertise, we will be identifying "high risk" knowledge positions and will establish mentoring and information retention and transfer initiatives as part of a knowledge management plan.  We will also be focussing on recruiting new employees and retaining and developing our current staff.  To this end, our objectives are to:

  • Attract and retain a diverse workforce of highly skilled and motivated people.

  • Ensure that corporate knowledge and expertise are preserved in the Agency.

  • Foster a dynamic, creative working environment.

  • Enhance employee development.

The Agency fully embraces the principle that employees are the greatest asset of any organization.  We also recognize that to attract and retain highly skilled individuals, we must provide a working environment that fosters innovation, develops talent and creates opportunities for employee development.  We will therefore continue to implement initiatives which promote our organization as a workplace of choice within an increasingly competitive marketplace.

To guarantee that knowledge and expertise remain within the Agency, we have adopted a staffing strategy which builds on key initiatives, such as succession planning, a management development program, continuous learning and in-house language training.

Action Summary

  • Conduct a Gap Analysis, which will identify areas where the Agency is most vulnerable to the loss of corporate knowledge.

  • Develop and implement plans for the retention and transfer of knowledge.

  • Implement targeted external recruitment strategies.

  • Use generic competencies and developmental assignments to create pools of qualified candidates.

  • Regularly assess the implementation of the new organizational structure to ensure full and effective implementation, and address any need for adjustments.

  • Demonstrate a commitment to employees' enrichment through enhanced learning opportunities.

2008-2011 Performance Targets

IndicatorTargetDate to be Achieved

Fully developed and implemented plans and strategies to ensure proper knowledge management as well as recruitment, retention and development of employees.

Succession Plan


Recruitment Strategy 2008-2011

Knowledge Management Skills Strategy


Priority 3: Enhanced Internal and External Relations

In providing its services, the Agency is committed to clear and timely communications, and increased dialogue amongst its employees and with clients and stakeholders.  To address this new priority we have established the following objectives:

  • Clearly communicate the Agency's role, objectives, priorities and processes.

  • Dialogue regularly with employees and external clients and stakeholders.

  • Improve the Agency's ability to identify and respond to client and stakeholder needs.

To establish productive and mutually beneficial relationships with clients and stakeholders, the Agency recognizes its need to improve communications – chiefly, to ensure that its communications are open and responsive.

We are adopting an approach that is co-ordinated and designed to improve our understanding of the issues and challenges facing our employees, clients and transportation service providers.

We are committed to providing more easily understood information on a more timely basis.  Our Intranet and Web site are undergoing major enhancements to support these objectives and we will be producing an expanded array of information bulletins designed to provide the information our clients and stakeholders tell us they are interested in receiving.

To facilitate an open dialogue with clients and stakeholders, we are instituting regular consultations or roundtable meetings that provide a forum for meaningful discussions on broad and systemic issues, and important developments in the industry.  In addition, client satisfaction surveys will provide crucial performance information to the Agency and drive our efforts to improve service delivery.

Action Summary

  • Develop a program to measure client satisfaction and use the information to drive the improvement of our service delivery.

  • Develop and implement mechanisms for ongoing dialogue with clients and stakeholders.

  • Complete the development and publishing of service standards.

  • Enhance our Intranet and Web site to provide clear, timely information to meet the needs of our employees, clients and stakeholders.

2008-2011 Performance Targets

IndicatorTargetDate to be Achieved

Measures of satisfaction with Agency services related to serving the needs of users of, service providers within and others affected by the national transportation system

Design survey


Conduct benchmark surveys and set targets 2009-2010

Conduct subsequent survey


Priority 4:  Accessible Transportation

The Agency has a legislative mandate to remove undue obstacles to the mobility of all persons, particularly those with disabilities.  Put simply, it is our job to support policy objectives set out in the Canada Transportation Act, which is to ensure that the federal transportation network is accessible to everyone.  Our objectives are to:

  • Improve the effectiveness of dispute resolution processes involving persons with disabilities and transportation service providers.

  • Monitor compliance with codes of practice and regulations concerning accessibility.

  • Enhance communications with stakeholders.

As a result of a 2007 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, it has been confirmed that the Agency has a mandate and an obligation to apply human rights principles, as found in the Canadian Human Rights Act, in its investigation of accessibility cases.  Service providers are now required to meet a specific test of "undue hardship" in determining whether they are providing reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities.

The issues raised in accessibility disputes can be highly complex, affecting broad groups of persons with disabilities and involving multiple service providers.  Significant time and resources are required to hear these cases.  Whenever appropriate, we will  continue to vigorously promote informal means of dispute resolution as a less costly alternative for all parties.

To resolve systemic issues, the Agency will continue to anticipate problems of access and identify ways transportation service providers can eliminate them, ideally, before they occur.  Accordingly, the Agency will develop and implement a comprehensive monitoring and compliance publication/methodology to build on its existing monitoring activities.  This will be supported by an extensive outreach program, which consists of ongoing dialogue with industry and organizations representing persons with disabilities.  This program will identify key issues and educate all parties about their rights and responsibilities regarding accessibility of the federal transportation network.

Action Summary

  • Streamline the resolution of accessibility disputes by increasing the use of facilitation and mediation.

  • Communicate clearly to service providers their responsibilities under the new "undue hardship test."

  • Develop and implement a new comprehensive monitoring and compliance publication/methodology covering regulations, codes of practice, and other standards.

  • Work with service providers to identify gaps in compliance and possible solutions that take into account both commercial issues and the needs of persons with disabilities.

2008-2011 Performance Targets

IndicatorTargetDate to be Achieved

Percentage of disputes resolved formally

50% resolved within 120 days


Percentage of disputes resolved informally

79% resolved within 30 days


Priority 5:  Organizational Support and Responsiveness

The purpose of this priority is to ensure a strong governance model, effective management principles and sound processes that enable the Agency to meet its other four priorities.

In order to be a well-managed, innovative organization that anticipates and responds effectively to change, the Agency will adopt systemic business management practices in order to:

  • Continue to improve governance and management processes that strengthen organizational capacity, stewardship and ensure clear accountability for results.

  • Document, review and harmonize processes across the Agency.

  • Demonstrate commitment to ongoing process improvements.

  • Employ innovation and creativity within an integrated risk management framework.

It is anticipated that it will take 1-2 years to fully benefit from the implementation of our new organizational structure and workload management initiatives, and achieve the expected results.  The new structure will help address challenges faced by the Agency through process efficiency, ensuring better forecasting of resource requirements, and the realignment of resources to match priorities and workload.

Our results-focussed Performance Measurement Framework establishes benchmarks and will determine the level of service delivery we need to achieve.  It will allow us to track how closely objectives are being met and support better management of information to support decision-making.

The Agency is also committed to meeting the accountability requirements of a federal government organization.  Ensuring that the Agency is equipped with a comprehensive and integrated model for management and a commitment to continuous  improvement will enable us to meet accountability expectations of Parliament and Canadians.  Internal audits and business process evaluations will provide objective assessments about the design of our practices and operation of our systems.  This will directly contribute to effective risk management and resource control.

Further, the Agency will examine best practices and lessons learned of other tribunals and small agencies as part of its commitment to continuous improvement in its planning and operations.

Action Summary

  • Continue to evaluate and streamline processes to ensure that the management of resources is in alignment with the new organizational structure.

  • Effectively manage resources by adopting appropriate risk management practices and proactive budget processes in developing multi-year business plans.

  • Work toward the full implementation of the Agency's Performance Measurement Framework.

  • Continue to monitor and improve management practices.

2008-2011 Performance Targets

IndicatorTargetDate to be Achieved

Full implementation of performance measurement framework and ongoing reporting on performance measures.

Implementation of annual reporting on performance measures


Development of an integrated risk management framework.

Framework used for decision-making and resource allocation


New governance and committee structure in place to guide and oversee strategic priorities implementation and operational delivery.

Structure in place


Operational plans integrate multi-year budgeting and planning into resource allocations.

Projects and financial resources identified for multi-years



The fundamental theme of our Strategic Plan for 2008-2011 is anticipating and responding effectively to a changing environment.  Our plan outlines a variety of initiatives we have underway, chiefly an ambitious organizational renewal.  Equipped with this Plan, we will have the focus and momentum we need to achieve our vision and uphold the Agency’s status as a leading Canadian tribunal.

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