Ottawa, ON - Larry Maguire, Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris spoke in the House Commons this afternoon in favour of Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act, which will strengthen rail safety, ensure adequate compensation is available and will institute a "polluter pays" principle for federally regulated railways.
"I take rail safety very seriously as do many Westman residents as most communities have a rail line going directly through town," said Maguire. "In addition to rail lines going through communities, many farmers and landowners have a rail line on their property. And it was only a couple weeks ago there was a train derailment North East of Brandon. We were fortunate the damage was minimal and no one was hurt but this incident is only just another reminder why we need to implement the measures contained in Bill C-52"
Changes in Bill C-52 include new liability and compensation obligations for federally regulated railways, including minimum insurance requirements; a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers; increased information-sharing provisions; and stronger oversight powers for the Minister and Transport Canada inspectors.
The new liability and compensation regime will be consistent with those the Government has introduced for other modes of transport, such as marine tankers and oil pipelines. It is based on the "polluter pays" principle and makes railways and shippers responsible for the cost of accidents, protecting taxpayers and communities by ensuring that adequate resources are available for compensation if an accident were to occur.
These new financial obligations will clearly establish and share liability between railways and shippers and provide an additional source of compensation if accidents occur. Railway companies will also be held automatically liable up to their mandatory minimum level of insurance and in cases with crude oil, it will mean are liable without the need to prove fault or negligence. In cases where a crude oil accident results in damages that surpass the railway's minimum mandatory insurance level, a supplementary compensation fund will cover costs.
Maguire concluded, "I will continue to stand up for Westman communities and be a strong voice for our region. By creating mandatory insurance levels for railways, providing additional layers of compensation, Bill C-52 makes certain that in the event of a rail accident, no matter the magnitude, there will be sufficient resources to compensate victims and remediate the environment."