EVALUATION REPORT

EVALUATION OF THE MARINE NAVIGATION PROGRAM

PROJECT NUMBER 6B170
MARCH 2016


EVALUATION DIRECTORATE
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SECTOR
FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Evaluation Directorate would like to thank all individuals who provided input in the evaluation of the Marine Navigation Program. In particular, the Directorate acknowledges the time and effort of key informants who took time to share insights, knowledge and opinions during interviews and the site visit.

ACRONYMS

AtoN
Aids to Navigation
C&A
Central and Arctic
CCG
Canadian Coast Guard
CESD
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
DG
Director General
IODIS
Database used for tracking icebreaking services
LoS
Levels of Service
NMAB
National Marine Advisory Board
NOTMAR
Notice to Mariners
NOTSHIP
Notice to Shipping
PAA
Program Alignment Architecture
SIPA
Database used for tracking the operational status of aids to navigation
US
United States

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Introduction

The evaluation of the Marine Navigation Program was conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Evaluation Directorate and covers a five-year period from 2010-11 to 2014-15.  The evaluation addressed the issues of relevance and performance, in accordance with the Treasury Board’s 2009 Policy on Evaluation.  Additionally, the evaluation was further refined to examine changes to program efficiency and effectiveness following changes made to the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) in 2012.

Program Profile

Marine Navigation is a program aligned with the Strategic Outcomes of Economically Prosperous Maritimes Sectors and Fisheries in DFO and CCG’s 2014-15 Program Alignment Architecture (PAA). 

The Marine Navigation Program is delivered by the CCG.  The program provides Canadian and International commercial marine transportation sectors, fishers and pleasure craft operators with information and services that facilitate safe, economical and efficient movement of maritime commerce in support of economic prosperity.

The program’s governance and delivery structure were transformed in 2012 as a result of transformational initiatives launched by the CCG in response to the Government’s Economic Action Plan 2012.  Under the new CCG organization, Marine Navigations is jointly governed by the Director General (DG) of National Strategies and the DG of Operations at national headquarters, who respectively report to the Deputy Commissioner, Strategies and Ship Building, and the Deputy Commissioner, Operations.

The Marine Navigation Program consists of three distinct areas of activity: Icebreaking services; Aids to Navigation (AtoN); and Waterways Management.

Evaluation Methodology

This evaluation adopted a theory-based approach whereby program performance was measured against intended results articulated in the program’s 2012 logic model. The evaluation questions were determined on the basis of the Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation. The chosen design was able to demonstrate the extent to which the program is achieving issues of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and economy. The use of triangulation was undertaken as an analytical method, where multiple lines of evidence helped corroborate findings.

The following lines of evidence were used for the evaluation: document review; analysis of existing program data; key informant interviews with program employees, partners and users; and, site visits to Central & Arctic Region operations in Quebec City.

Evaluation Findings

Relevance
There is a clear continued need for the Marine Navigation Program. All three components play a crucial role in ensuring safe, economical and efficient navigation on Canadian waters, as well as the prevention of marine incidents that could lead to environmental contamination.

The program is clearly aligned with federal roles and responsibilities as it directly supports the minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ legislated mandate for matters related to safe, economical and efficient navigation on Canadian waters. The program also supports federal priorities such as international trade and safe navigation of all types of vessels and platforms, including oil tankers.

Effectiveness
Overall data shows that the program is meeting its intended outcomes of “facilitated access to/movement through marine channels” and is contributing to an “economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries”. Some issues were nevertheless raised with regards to the effectiveness of the AtoN and Icebreaking areas of activity.

Data shows that most aspects of the AtoN services are meeting their intended level of service, however, a number of potential issues are currently not being systematically tracked and reported on by the program, such as: the deterioration of aids; system reviews that are not being conducted as quickly as required; limitations of the network of buoys in the Arctic; and, the inconsistent timeliness of seasonal buoy lifts and placements. These issues could, if not closely monitored, pose risks for the program’s achievement of its intended results and for the sustainability of CCG’s aids infrastructure.  It was however noted that initiatives are currently in place to address some of these potential issues.

As for the Icebreaking area of activity, evaluation results show that ice information services are meeting users’ expectations. Icebreaking services have not met their expected levels of service (LoS) over the five years covered by the evaluation, prompting concerns among industry clients and program representatives regarding the perceived decreasing availability of CCG vessels.  Although constrained by the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy’s schedule for providing new icebreakers, the CCG has put in place a number of mitigation strategies to continue meeting demands for vessel time.  The Vessel Life Extension strategy entails making overhaul and maintenance repairs to on average two icebreakers each year in order to prolong their workable life by on average 10 to 15 years. The CCG is currently conducting a review of its procurement plan in light of evolving needs and unforeseen changes to initial assumptions. Also, improvements have been made since CCG’s reorganization to more flexibly allocate icebreaking vessels according to priorities.

Evidence shows that the program is successful in delivering its intended Waterways Management results; although some stakeholders are concerned that several waterways have not been surveyed in a long time and that the absence of updated information on these channels’ bottom conditions might pose a security risk for users. The program’s mandate however does not require the surveying of all Canadian waterways and no data is reported on the potential or signaled needs for additional surveying.

Economy and Efficiency
Qualitative observation of administrative practices revealed that the CCG has experienced both efficiency gains and losses as it poceeded through rsignificant organisational change. No clear evidence was found that these changes have had important impacts on the program’s achievement of intended outcomes. It is also too early in the implementation of the CCG reorganisation to determine whether noted efficiency losses are due to limitations inherent to the program or to the temporary organisational change process. There is however clear evidence of the loss of a clear point of contact at Headquarters to provide operational coordination and support for specific program components. Several efforts aimed at improving program efficiency are either completed or underway. These are expected to mitigate, to some extent, the capacity issues and program management challenges attributed to recent organizational changes.

Strengthening the program’s performance measurement tools and processes would help program management address the above-noted challenges and manage risks associated with them.

Recommendations

The evaluation made two recommendations.

Recommendation 1

Rationale: CCG reorganization in 2012 introduced a new governance and organizational structure at Headquarters. The reorganization involved replacing specific organizational units with a general division responsible for the operations of all CCG programs. The absence of specific points of contacts in the organization has had an impact on the efficient delivery of the program. It has hindered timely access to program expertise and corporate memory by program stakeholders and partners. They are now unclear where to go for this expertise.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner, Operations: a) designate a point of contact for each of the two main program sub-components (i.e., AtoN/Waterways Management and Icebreaking), b) develop a statement of roles and responsibilities for these points of contact, and c) develop and implement a strategy to disseminate this information to all program stakeholders (i.e., CCG Headquarters, CCG regions, and program delivery partners).

Recommendation 2

Rationale : Available information collected as part of the evaluation suggests that the program may be facing risks related to: 1) AtoN asset deterioration; 2) impacts of resource reductions and organisational changes on the regions’ ability to deliver reliable information products such as Notices to Mariners; 3) provision of accurate and timely information on channel bottom conditions for key waterways; and 4) possible unforeseen delays in CCG vessel life extension and vessel procurement and schedules, and potential resulting impacts on AtoN and Icebreaking Services. However, current data is insufficient to accurately estimate the magnitude and likelihood of those risks and to verify that current risk mitigation actions are appropriate and sufficient. In particular, data is missing on the timeliness of buoy tending services, reasons for refusing or cancelling icebreaking service requests, and initial needs identified for waterways surveying. Also, the quality/accuracy of NOTMAR notices and icebreaking information products are not systematically monitored and the assessments of aids asset systems condition, while improving, are still not conducted at the required pace. Finally, the current systems (SIPA and IODIS) both require adjustments to improve the reliability of data on the aids’ operational status and the timeliness of icebreaking services. Such data is required to conduct proper risk-based planning.

Recommendation : It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner, Operations and the Deputy Commissioner, Strategies and Ship Building ensure that sufficient data is collected to allow for appropriate risk-based planning of Marine Navigation Program activities.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Purpose of the Evaluation

This report presents the results of the evaluation of the Marine Navigation Program by the Evaluation Directorate within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). In accordance with Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation, the main objective of the evaluation was to examine the relevance and performance of the program, including an assessment of its effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Additionally, the evaluation was further refined to examine changes to program efficiency and effectiveness following organizational changes made to the CCG in 2012.

1.2 Evaluation Scope and Context

The evaluation covered the five year period from 2010-11 to 2014-15 and included the National Capital Region, and all three CCG Regions: Western, Central and Arctic (C&A), and Atlantic.

The evaluation commenced in October 2014 and concluded in December 2015.

In 2009-10, separate in-depth evaluations of the Aids to Navigation (AtoN), Waterways Management and Icebreaking programs were conducted.Footnote 1

2.0 PROGRAM PROFILE

2.1 Program Context

Organizational Structure
Marine Navigation is a program (1.8) aligned with the Strategic Outcome of Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries in DFO and CCG’s 2014-15 Program Alignment Architecture (PAA). 

The Marine Navigation Program is delivered by the CCG. This program provides Canadian and International commercial marine transportation sectors, fishers and pleasure craft operators with information and services that facilitate safe, economical and efficient movement of maritime commerce in support of economic prosperity. 

The program’s governance and delivery structure were to some extent transformed in 2012 as a result of transformational initiatives launched by the CCG in response to the Government’s Economic Action Plan 2012Footnote 2. As part of these initiatives, the CCG restructured its shore-based organization to achieve greater efficiencies, to ensure rigour in the oversight and management of the Agency and to ensure a nationally consistent approach aligned with Departmental and Government of Canada priorities. There were five major intended outcomes from the reorganization of the shore-based structure:

  1. Reduction of management and overhead by shifting to a three region model;
  2. Refocusing of certain directorates in headquarters;
  3. Changes in the way that certain administrative functions were delivered both at headquarters and in regions;
  4. Improvements in communication nationally by operating as a functional organization with operations being delivered using the three region model; and
  5. Ensuring that functional processes were consistent nationally through a robust organizational governance model.

Three principal changes have had an impact on the Marine Navigation Program:

  1. The consolidation of CCG’s previous five regions into three new regions (i.e., Western, C&A, and Atlantic);
  2. A new distribution of roles and shared accountability across two new directorates: the National Strategies Directorate and the Operations Directorate; and
  3. The consolidation of three previously separate PAA sub-programs (Icebreaking; Waterways Management; and Aids to Navigation) under one single PAA program (1.8 Marine Navigation). (Note: this change occurred in 2011, prior to the reorganization)

Program Activities and Governance
The Marine Navigation Program consists of three distinct areas of activity, reflecting the previous sub-program structure.

  • Icebreaking services: Provide critical ice-related information services and advice and icebreaking support services such as escorts, harbour breakout and flood prevention which facilitate safe and timely navigation for Canadian and International commercial marine transportation sectors, fishers and pleasure craft operators through and around ice-covered Canadian waters.
  • AtoN: Provides devices or systems, external to a vessel, to help mariners determine position and course, to warn of dangers or obstruction, or to mark the location of preferred routes which support accessible, safe and efficient navigation in Canadian waters by Canadian and International commercial marine transportation sectors, fishers and pleasure craft operators. These include, among others, short-range (e.g., buoys and fog horns) and long-range (e.g., Differential Global Positioning System) aids to navigation.
  • Waterways Management: Contributes to efficient movement of maritime commerce and helps ensure safe and accessible waterways in support of economic prosperity and environmental protection, mainly by surveying certain commercial channels to identify the bottom conditions, restrictions or hazards to safe navigation; by providing marine safety information to users, including information on channel bottom condition and water depth forecasts; by dredging the navigational channels that connect the Great Lakes (Detroit, St. Clair and St. Mary’s Rivers and Lake St. Clair); and by maintaining marine structures which help to manage currents and water levels, moderate wave climates, manage sedimentation rates and patterns, reduce scour and erosion and hence, reduce channel maintenance needs.

Under the new CCG organization, Marine Navigation is jointly governed by the Director General (DG) of National Strategies and the DG of Operations at national headquarters, who respectively report to the Deputy Commissioner, Strategies and Ship Building, and the Deputy Commissioner, Operations.

The role of national headquarters staff, under the authority of their respective DG, is to provide functional direction and coordination of program delivery in the regions. More specifically, National Strategies staff  members are responsible for leading work on the strategic direction of the Marine Navigation program by developing strategies; identifying opportunities to enhance the program or address known issues through projects of national scope; developing national directives; developing proposals for policy and funding authority; and reporting on program performance nationally. Operations staff members are responsible for coordinating program delivery in the regions; coordinating development of, and training on, service levels, procedures and systems; and managing information systems, among other tasks.

In each region, a Regional Director, CCG Programs is responsible for providing line direction for the delivery of all CCG’s services (i.e., AtoN; Waterways Management; Icebreaking; Marine Communication and Traffic Services, Search and Rescue; and Environmental Response). Specific responsibility for each of these services is assigned to a Superintendent. In the case of Marine Navigation services, each region has a Superintendent responsible for Icebreaking (except Western Region) and another for both AtoN and Waterways Management activities.

The program is delivered in close partnership with other divisions within the CCG.  In particular, Integrated Technical Services personnel are responsible for providing development and maintenance of fixed aids to navigation and buoys, as well as for providing Marine Navigation staff access to data on aids to navigation maintenance through the MAXIMO database and service reports. Delivery of the program is also heavily reliant on CCG Fleet. In particular, various CCG vessels are used to put in place seasonal buoys and remove them for maintenance or storage and upkeep at the end of the season, and CCG Icebreakers and Air Cushioned Vehicles are used to deliver the icebreaking services. Various small CCG vessels are used to carry out surveys for monitoring and maintenance of the Canadian waterways. 

Marine Navigation activities also depend on input from other government organizations such as the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) (hosted by Environment Canada) for ice information and Ice Service Specialist support; and the Canadian Hydrographic Service and Environment Canada for the provision of water level information and forecasts as well as meteorological information. These organizations also rely on CCG for information (e.g., the Canadian Hydrographic Service needs data collected by CCG in order to update their charts). In addition, approximately 40% of floating aids to navigation (buoys) are maintained and/or positioned by external private contractors. The United States (US) Coast Guard long-range positioning system is also used in conjunction with the AtoN Differential Global Positioning System to provide adequate long-range aids coverage in Canadian waters.

Expected Results
The Expected Result for Marine Navigation is: The commercial shipping industry and mariners are provided with marine navigation support to facilitate access to movement through main marine channels.Footnote 3

Program Beneficiaries
The primary beneficiaries of the Marine Navigation program are mariners, including shipping industry, recreational boaters, commercial fishers, pilots, ferry operators, ice navigators, shipping agents, channel owners and operators, ports, Arctic residents, as well as the various associations and committees that represent them, scientists and other governments (U.S.) with respect to resupply of projects in the Arctic, and communities in flood zones related to ice buildup in the St Lawrence River. These beneficiaries utilize Marine Navigation information to navigate safely in Canada’s oceans and significant inland waterways. These beneficiaries primarily use information pertaining to aids to navigation, currents, water levels, tide heights, navigational hazards, and ice movements, as well as services related to icebreaking.

Program Resources
The total program budget for 2014-15 was $32.07M, divided as follows: $14.93M for AtoN; $13.86 for Icebreaking; and $3.28M for Waterways Management.  Program human resources include 205 FTEs for 2014-15, divided as follows: 173 for AtoN; 8 for Icebreaking; and 24 for Waterways Management.

2.2 Logic Model and Performance Measurement

The logic model that guided the evaluation provides an overview of the logical linkages between inputs, activities, outputs and various levels of outcome. The logic model was developed in 2012 as part of the program’s Performance Measurement Strategy. Although a newer logic model was developed by the program in 2014, the evaluation team decided to use the 2012 version for the following reasons:

  1. it provides a more detailed articulation of the program activities, outputs, and outcomes than the 2014 version;
  2. the 2014 version is reflective of the program going forward whereas the current evaluation is examining the program’s implementation during the past five years;
  3. although the 2012 logic model is only reflective of the newly merged program structure as of 2012, the activities and outcomes it depicts still reflect actual program activities for the period from 2009-10 to 2011-12; and
  4. the 2012 logic model informed the program’s performance measures and data collection.

3. EVALUATION METHODOLOGY

3.1 Evaluation Approach and Design

This evaluation adopted a theory-based approach whereby program performance was measured against intended results articulated in the program logic model. The chosen design was able to demonstrate the extent to which the program is achieving issues of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Extensive use of triangulation was undertaken as an analytical method, where multiple lines of evidence helped corroborate findings.

3.2 Data Sources

The evaluation used multiple lines of evidence and complementary research methods as a means to ensure the reliability of information and data to be collected. The following data collection methods were used to gather qualitative and quantitative data for the evaluation.

Document Review
The review of relevant existing program documentation provided a perspective on the activities and outputs produced by the program, and was used to address all the evaluation questions. In addition, key external publications on the economic relevance of secure and efficient navigation on Canada’s main waterways were reviewed to address the issue of program relevance. 

Data Analysis
Existing program performance data was reviewed to assess both program performance and the effectiveness of program performance measurement. In addition, the evaluation team sought to identify and analyse any additional program-generated data on activities and results.

Key Informant Interviews
A total of 38 program stakeholders were interviewed, divided as follows:

  • Interviews – program employees and partners (n=22)
    • 7 Headquarters program staff & management
    • 9 regional program staff & management
    • 6 delivery partners (Fleet, Integrated Technical Services and CIS)
  • Interviews – program users (n=16)
    • 14 National Marine Advisory Board (NMAB) members
    • 2 representatives of pilotage authorities (written submissions)

Interview guides were developed and tailored for each interview group. All interviewees were contacted in advance of the interview to schedule an appropriate time and to receive an interview guide in advance of the interview.  While interview lengths varied by individual respondent, the majority of the interviews took on average 60 minutes. Interviews were undertaken in-person when possible, or by telephone if an in-person meeting was not possible.

Site Visit to C&A Regional Operations in Quebec City
Direct observation of the program’s day to day operations was made possible for evaluators by conducting a site visit of regional operations in Quebec City. This location was selected because it is the only site where activities from all three program sub-components (AtoN, Waterways Management and Icebreaking) were conducted. Similar visits to other CCG regions were not possible due to resource limitations.

Direct observations enabled the evaluation team to better understand the context and concrete reality of program implementation in the C&A Region. Given the unique situation of each region, the data collected was treated only as illustrative and was not generalised to the entire program.

3.3 Methodological Limitations and Mitigation Strategies

Although the evaluation encountered some challenges and limitations that are outlined below, these limitations were mitigated, as much as possible, through the use of multiple lines of evidence and triangulation of data. This approach was taken in order to demonstrate reliability and validity of the findings and to ensure that conclusions and recommendations are based on objective and documented evidence. Details on limitations and mitigations can be found in Annex A.

4.0 FINDINGS

4.1 Relevance


Key Finding: There is clear evidence of continued need for the program. All three program components are essential to the safe, economical and efficient use of Canadian waterways for commercial, recreational and subsistence purposes, as well as the prevention of marine incidents that could lead to environmental contamination.

The program is clearly aligned with federal roles and responsibilities and government priorities since it falls directly under the minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ legislated mandate for matters related to safe and efficient marine navigation on Canadian waters and it supports the implementation of federal priorities related to international trade and the safe navigation of all types of vessels and platforms.


Continued Need
The program is needed for five primary purposes: 1) supporting economic activities that rely on marine transportation and trade, including ferries; 2) ensuring safe navigation on Canadian major waterways to prevent incidents that could lead to loss of life, loss of commercial revenues, or environmental contamination; 3) facilitating the resupply of remote communities; 4) protecting riverbound communities from potential flooding due to ice jams; 5) and protecting life, the environment and property by intervening when vessels become beset in ice.

A 2009 economic impact study showed that overall marine transportation ranks second (after offshore oil and gas) in contribution to the Canadian Gross Domestic Product. Footnote 4 Industry representatives consulted all agree that the CCG’s marine navigation services are important to the economic prosperity of marine industry stakeholders and of Canadian economic sectors that rely on marine navigation services. These services are considered essential given that Canadian waterways are a major transportation route for domestic and international commercial goods. All three services (AtoN, Waterways Management, and Icebreaking) are being used by the shipping industry as they contribute to the safety and the predictability of their vessels’ movements, which translates directly into increased revenues and enables Canadian marine carriers to remain competitive in the market. For instance, according to Waterways Management Program estimates, each day of travel lost (e.g., because the vessel must wait for water levels to rise before proceeding through a channel) translates into roughly a $100K loss in revenue for the shipping company. If a vessel must unload part of its cargo at the Port of Halifax in order to proceed into the St. Lawrence Waterway because the water column is not as high as initially anticipated, the cost for unloading is approximately $350K per 10 cm in water depth. Each additional 10cm of cargo loaded represents approximately $140K in revenues, which highlights the importance for shipping companies of having precise and predictable forecasts of water column height.

With a coastline of over 247, 000 km and major ports in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Great Lakes and the Arctic, Canadian waterways welcome an average of 21,000 international ships each year. Approximately half of Canada’s trade is carried by ship. According to Transport Canada statistics, the international maritime trade was worth $170 billion in 2010.Footnote 5 The reliability of program services and information are particularly important to the choice of transportation route made by international carriers. For instance, on the East Coast the St. Lawrence River is the most efficient route for importing goods to eastern America. International exporters may choose alternative routes (e.g., unloading at a US port and carrying the goods by train) if seaway navigation is uneconomical or too unpredictable due to uncertain availability of icebreaking escort services or unpredictable waterways conditions.

In addition to international and domestic shipping, marine waterways support the commercial activities of major ports, pilotage activities, and ferries. Transport Canada data shows that revenues from the marine navigation transportation economic sector have steadily increased between 2010 and 2014, reaching $1.6 trillion in 2014.  Similarly, the amount of marine freight traffic through Canadian waterways has increased to 479 metric tonnes in 2014, a 22% increase since 2010.  Canadian Port Authorities handle billions of dollars of goods each year, representing two thirds of all cargo handled in Canada, and support more than 200 000 jobs directly or indirectly each year. According to 2013 figures reported by the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, its ports have generated revenues of nearly $500 million and an average port generated profits of $8.4 million. Pilotage services provided in 2011 an overall net income of $10.8 million.

CCG icebreaking services also play a unique and essential role in enabling resupply of remote communities in the Arctic and on isolated and island territories (e.g., Iles de la Madeleine). Canadian waterways are the most economic and efficient transportation routes to these communities. Without CCG escorts and harbour breakouts (and in the case of remote northern communities, actual resupply), these communities would be at risk of delays for restocking critical fuel stocks and consumer goods during ice coverage season.

Less data is available on program benefits for other users of marine navigation services.  Transport Canada sources indicate that in 2012 more than 62,000 vessels were registered in Canada. Users included 19,660 pleasure craft, 23,559 fishing vessels and 4,482 passenger craft among others. Footnote 6 The increasing number of Notice to Mariners (NOTMAR)  website visits (33% more in 2014-15 than in 2011-12) and subscribers (a 23% increase) signals the ongoing relevance of the program for users. This service is primarily used by recreational boaters (representing 71% of subscribers) and commercial shippers (13%). Similarly, the MarInfo website has seen a 44% increase in visits from 2012 to 2014.

The need for the program is expected to grow due to the increased flow of commercial goods to be generated by the opening of new international markets as a result of recent Canadian trade deals (e.g., with South Korea in 2014).  Similarly, growing marine access to the Arctic is expected to lead to an estimated 300 new voyages per year to the Arctic by 2020, nearly doubling current traffic levels.Footnote 7 The use of Marine Navigation Program products and services is expected to increase as a result of these changes.

Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities and government priorities
The federal government has a unique role and authorities for the activities covered by the program, as conferred under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, Oceans Act, and Constitution Act, 1897. The Constitution Act, 1867, s. 91 (9, 10) confers on the federal parliament exclusive legislative authority over all matters related to navigation, marine transport, and navigational aids (such as beacons, buoys and lighthouses). The Oceans Act (SC 1996, c. 31, s. 41) gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans responsibility for providing: aids to navigation; marine communications and traffic management services; icebreaking and ice-management services; channel maintenance;  marine search and rescue; marine pollution response; and  support of other federal departments, boards and agencies by providing ships, aircraft and other marine services. The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 provides definitions indicating where and when to exercise a mandate and gives the Minister the necessary powers to execute his mandate.

In addition to its legislated mandate, the department is bound by international or bilateral agreements, such as the Canada-U.S. agreement for dredging connecting channels between the two countries on the Great Lakes, and must comply to the extent possible with standards developed by international organisations to which Canada is a party such as the Maritime Buoyage System standards developed by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA).

Given its contribution to the economic prosperity of marine industry stakeholders and of Canadian economic sectors that rely on marine navigation services, the program is directly aligned with Government of Canada priorities of opening new markets for Canadian goods, services and investments, as stated in the 2011 and 2013 Speeches from the Throne and operationalized through trade agreements such as the European Union and Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In addition, new measures were announced in 2013 by the Federal Government to strengthen Canada’s marine navigation system through the World Class Tanker Safety System initiative. The initiative, led by Transport Canada, entails substantial participation by DFO and the CGG. Notably, one of the initiatives aims to enhance the AtoN system near Kitimat, British Columbia to address the increasing need to ensure safe transportation of oil and hazardous and noxious substances such as liquefied natural gas. Other initiatives under the theme of modernizing marine navigation include: a comprehensive review of aids to navigation systems for southern waters to identify recommended changes; deployment of four-season navigation buoys in the St. Lawrence Shipping Channel; and more frequent channel bottom monitoring surveys for Canada’s main commercial waterways.

4.2 Effectiveness

This section presents findings on the program’s achievement of intended results. Findings are divided by program sub-component, with a concluding section on overall outcomes.

Aids to Navigation


Key Finding: Data shows that most aspects of AtoN services have met their intended levels of service in most years: short-range and long-range aids are operational most of the time and aids information bulletins are produced within required timelines. This success may however be at risk. Many potential issues are currently not being systematically tracked and reported on by the program. Aids are deteriorating; aids systems reviews are not being conducted as quickly as required; the network of buoy systems in the Arctic has limited ability to meet a growing demand by industry; and the timeliness of seasonal buoy lifts and placements has been inconsistent. These issues could, if not closely monitored, pose risks for the program’s achievement of its intended results and for the sustainability of CCG’s aids infrastructure. Several initiatives are currently underway to address some of these potential issues.


Aids to navigation are devices or systems, external to a vessel, which are provided to assist mariners to determine their position and course, to warn them of dangers or obstructions or to advise them of the location of the best or preferred route. The Canadian Aids to Navigation System is a mixed system, i.e. lateral and cardinal. The program involves over 17,000 short-range aids to navigation, including visual aids (lighthouses and buoys) and aural aids (fog horns), as well as radar aids (reflectors and beacons) and long-range aids to navigation, including electronic aids, such as the Differential Global Positioning System. Aids to navigation must be used together with maritime publications, including marine charts and corrections to those charts, the List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals, Radio Aids to Marine Navigation and Nautical Instructions in order to properly understand and interpret their functions. Information on marine maps and Nautical Instructions are available with the Canadian Hydrographic Service.Footnote 8

AtoN program effectiveness was measured against the following seven key criteria: 1) the aids’ operational status; 2) the aids’ asset condition; 3) the implementation of aids asset system reviews; 4) the timeliness of buoy placement and removal; 5) the timely dissemination of aids information products; 6) the performance of long-range aids; and 7) noted/planned program improvements.


Operational Aids

In its published levels of service (LoS)Footnote 9 the program has committed to ensuring that short-range aids to navigation systems are operating properly, in relation to when they are expected to be operational, at least 99% of the time. The performance of the aids is calculated as a 3 year average to rule out potential circumstantial biases that could be introduced if the performance “reading” was taken on a given day where an exceptional number of dysfunctions occurred. The program has met this LoS every year during the five-year period examined except in 2014-15, when it missed the target by one percentage point.

This result suggests that the aids are operating satisfactorily. This is confirmed by industry users, a majority of whom reported being satisfied with this aspect of the program, finding that aids are generally functioning properly most of the time. A few examples were given of instances when a floating aid was reported as displaced or not functioning properly and the program was slow at addressing the issue, but these examples were few and, for the majority of industry clients, not perceived as being highly problematic.

The situation is however perceived as somewhat less positive in the Arctic, where the actual number and placement of aids does not meet all industry stakeholders’ needs. In its 2014 audit report on Marine Navigation in the Arctic, the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) reported that there were 340 aids to navigation in the Arctic outside the Mackenzie River and Great Slave Lake areas. Despite expected increased traffic in these areas, the audit found that little progress had been made in expanding this network, “despite repeated requests by the shipping industry for new or modified aids to navigation in 30 locations in the Arctic”Footnote 10.  In response to the audit finding, the CCG acknowledged that “it has resources to maintain its existing network of aids to navigation only, not to cover the addition of new aids.”Footnote 11

It must also be noted that available data does not enable a finer analysis of aids performance by geographical area. For instance, the CCGS Tracy, a CCG vessel of medium size used in the C&A Region for aids maintenance and buoy placement/removal, was retired from service in 2014 as a cost-saving measure. Several industry clients and program representatives noted that this decision had an impact on the program’s ability to provide timely maintenance of the floating aids located in the St. Lawrence Seaway. While the CCG has assigned other vessels to perform the work previously covered by the CCGS Tracy, these vessels are sometimes re-tasked (i.e., allocated to another, higher priority task). Also, they are not always as effective and efficient as the CCGS Tracy due to their larger size, which occasionally prompts the need to also use the services of an air cushioned vehicle. Available data did not enable evaluators to verify and quantify this impact.

Furthermore, testimonies from a wide cross-section of CCG key informants suggest that performance data on the aids operation is not entirely reliable due to data entry inconsistencies across regions and areas. Notably, some reports of an aid being defective (or displaced) are reportedly being re-coded as “solved” as soon as mariners are notified of the defect, irrespective of whether the aid has been repaired or not, thereby providing an inaccurate inventory of the aids’ actual operational status. According to program staff, the problem is currently being addressed and is gradually decreasing. However, there is no evidence of a precise inventory of the areas where coding is inconsistent, nor of the margin of error that this inconsistency has introduced into the AtoN program database (SIPA). As a result, evaluators were unable to assess the magnitude of the problem.

Aids Asset Condition

While the official performance data presented above suggests that aids are operating as expected most of the time, other sources reveal that aids are deteriorating at a pace faster than the CCG’s ability to maintain them.

“Despite significant investments over close to a decade to improve and replace shore-based assets, the Coast Guard has been unable to keep pace with the overall decline in the condition of its AtoN assets and the changing needs of mariners. This trend is expected to continue.”Footnote 12

The CCG’s 2014 AtoN Asset Class Plan provides an assessment of the condition of CCG’s aids to navigation assets. While 84% of floating aids are deemed in good or satisfactory condition, this proportion falls to 54% for power systems, 53% for towers, and 47% for buildings.

These figures signify, namely, that 16% of floating aids and 47% of towers are estimated to be in fair or poor condition. “Fair condition” means that the asset has known performance and/or reliability issues that may need to be addressed through refurbishment back to baseline and /or that it is between 60 and 90 per cent of its expected lifespan. “Poor condition” means that the asset’s status can only be corrected through replacement or refurbishment and/or that it has reached 90 per cent of its expected lifespan.

Findings suggest that the pace of current asset maintenance is significantly below what is needed to provide currently needed repairs and to ensure proper lifecycle maintenance of the assets in the future.

“Only needs for which CCG regions have the capacity to address are identified. Other needs are simply ignored until they become priorities”Footnote 13

For example, given that tower assets have an average estimated lifespan of 25 years, in order for the CCG to ensure proper lifecycle maintenance of its 5,590 towers it would need to conduct maintenance/refurbishment of 239 towers each year. However, due to funding restrictions, only 74 towers received maintenance in 2014-15. The tower maintenance budget for 2014-15 was $4,636,441 and was further decreased to $2,949,000 in 2015-16, which implies that the pace of maintenance repairs will further decrease.

The above findings must however be qualified in light of noted limitations in the accuracy of asset condition assessments. According to most CCG key informants, the CCG has limited resources to conduct systematic and consistent reviews of its aid assets. Also, condition of assets is not coded in a consistent manner across all regions and areas. The condition ratings are, as a result, based on imperfect data. CCG key informants nevertheless report that the quality and quantity of data of asset condition is improving each year, in part due to the implementation of an Asset Condition Assessment Program, and that condition assessment results for 2014 are better than previous years’.

Aids Systems Reviews

The above-mentioned challenges in assessing the exact condition of aids assets are related in part to CCG’s difficulties in meeting its commitment to conduct systematic reviews of its aids systems on a five-year cycleFootnote 14. This commitment was captured in the program performance strategy in 2011-12. The performance target was set at 20% of aids systems being reviewed and confirmed to be reliable through cyclical review each year. Data is only available for fiscal year 2011-12 and indicates that only 12% of systems had been reviewed that year.

Data from a CCG workload analysis conducted in 2012 confirms this finding. The report reveals that CCG had 17,887 aids grouped in 1042 systems. At the time, 52% of aids and 37% of aids systems had not yet received an initial review. Based on the estimated workload of remaining reviews (at an estimated 2.5 days per aid to review) and the annual days that were devoted to system reviews across the regions, the report concluded that “it could take more than 100 years in some regions to complete the initial review of all AtoN system with the current conditions”.Footnote 15 The observed gap was particularly pronounced in the Maritimes (120 years) and Central (107 years) regions, and to a lesser extent Pacific (33 years) and Quebec (23) regions, with Newfoundland being the only region that had completed all its required initial reviewsFootnote 16. This assessment applied to initial reviews and did not factor in the requirement to continue conducting such reviews every five years.

The CESD Audit reported similar findings for the Arctic. In 2014, 23 of 43 aids systems had received an initial review and only 2 of the 23 had received a subsequent review as part of the 5-year review cycle.Footnote 17

To address this challenge, the workload analysis report recommended that the number of years required to complete the initial reviews of all aids to navigation systems be reduced by both increasing the days devoted annually to initial reviews and streamlining the methodology and processes for conducting such reviews. It also recommended improving the training delivered to officers conducting the reviews, as well as revising the Directive to establish more feasible targets.  While no evidence was found of an action plan to specifically respond to these recommendations, with the exception of the Asset Condition Assessment Program development referred to earlier, program representatives reported that this concern was being addressed through additional resources secured through the World Class Tanker Safety System initiative to conduct aids to navigation reviews during the period of 2015-16 to 2018-19.

Timeliness of Buoy Placement and Removal

Consultations with industry clients and regional program representatives in the C&A and Atlantic regions provided some evidence of increasing delays in the seasonal placement and retrieval of floating buoys.Footnote 18 According to industry clients, this is problematic because the presence of buoys is a requirement for being able to navigate in certain Canadian marine channels (e.g., the St. Lawrence Shipping Channel) under certain conditions (e.g., at night). The absence of buoys may trigger the requirement for double-piloting, which entails costs for shipping companies in addition to the costs associated with delays in proceeding in or out of those Canadian waters.

The program does not systematically collect data on the timeliness of this service. Partial data for the Atlantic Region (with data gaps for some areas and some years) shows that the performance varied widely across areas and from year to year. For the Maritimes area, where the most complete set of data is available, figures show that buoy lifts in the fall were done at least two weeks late most years and by more than a month in the last two years. Most buoy placements in the spring of 2014 were at least two weeks late, in some places reaching more than a month late.
These delays are attributed, by CCG key informants, in part to the particularly harsh winters experienced in 2014 and 2015. The increased presence of ice would have introduced increased demand for CCG vessels, thereby diminishing their availability to provide buoy tending services. The removal of the CCGS Tracy is also perceived by many as having directly affected the C&A Region’s ability to provide timely buoy placement, removal and tending. It must however be noted that placement of buoys in the spring can also be delayed by the need to wait until there is no longer a risk that they will be damaged by ice. Nevertheless, there is a general perception across most industry and regional program stakeholders that CCG vessel availability has decreased over the past years, impacting the responsiveness of both AtoN and icebreaker program services. These factors will be discussed in more detail in the section on icebreaking services.

To mitigate delays in placement of buoys in the spring in the past two “ice-heavy” winters the program has consulted pilots on which priority buoys to place first.

Aids Information and Notices

The program issues Notices to Mariners (NOTMAR) to advise users of updates on navigation conditions.

According to CCG LoS, Notices to Mariners are to be posted on the NOTMAR website monthly and chart correction information on a weekly basis. Performance data for 2010-11 and 2011-12 show that the performance target was met and testimonies from staff and industry users, as well as statistics obtained from the program, suggest that the monthly posting of NOTMAR bulletins has also been conducted as intended in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The launch of the Maritime Information Portal in August 2015Footnote 19 is an example of CCG progress towards streamlining and modernizing communication of marine safety information to clients as part of its “E-navigation” initiative. Launched by the CCG, this initiative is in keeping with wider international discussions spearheaded by the International Maritime Organization and is expected to improve the safety, security and efficiency of marine navigation in Canada.Footnote 20 To date, the program has completed a user needs assessment, involving primarily industry users, and launched the Maritime Information Portal. This portal offers searchable and downloadable information about Canadian marine weather, ice conditions, tides, navigation restrictions, nautical charts and sailing directions, in support of effective marine voyage planning. 

Performance of Long-Range AtoNs

CCG LoS also include commitments to ensuring a minimum level of accuracy and availability of its electronic positioning systems such as the Differential Global Positioning System. In particular, the LoS states that “when the system is available, the service continuity should be greater than or equal to 99.97% over 3 hours”. While the program does not formally report on this information, program representatives stated that the performance of this particular service was 100% for each of the fiscal years examined because of the existence of redundant systems providing immediate back-up should the primary system fail. None of the industry users raised any concerns regarding this service component, suggesting that its performance is adequate.

Noted/Planned Improvements

In addition to the service improvements discussed previously, the program introduced the production of annual AtoN Asset Class Plans in its CCG life-cycle asset management system in 2011. This “provided an opportunity for CCG to reflect on the condition of its assets, the geographical and technological needs of its clients for navigational aids, and the changing environment in which the AtoN Program presently operates”.Footnote 21 Given the importance of having a sound evidence base for any decision-making, such plans are a much needed first step in helping the CCG address previously noted challenges in maintaining the condition of its aid assets.

Another improvement has been the implementation of a prioritization methodology for asset maintenance. A national approach was developed to manage and prioritize funding of fixed aids maintenance that focuses primarily on the importance of the asset for mariners.Footnote 22

Lastly, with the assistance of Integrated Technical Services, the program is currently developing and testing “four-season” buoys that could be left in place throughout winter, thereby reducing reliance on CCG vessels for seasonal placement and removal. Up to 185 buoys will be deployed over the next four years in the St. Lawrence River Shipping Channel between Quebec City and Montreal. This innovation is greatly anticipated by industry.


Icebreaking


Key Finding: Evaluation results show that the program’s ice information services are meeting their users’ expectations. Icebreaking services related to icebreakers have not met their expected LoS in terms of response time over the five years examined, prompting concerns among industry clients and program representatives regarding the perceived decreasing availability of CCG vessels icebreakers. A more pronounced drop in performance was observed in 2014-15. In light of exceptional ice coverage and a significant increase in service demands addressed in winter 2014, the program has demonstrated some, albeit still limited, capacity in meeting surges in service demands with its available fleet of vessels. Although constrained by the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy’s schedule for providing a new icebreaker (the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker is expected in 2020), the CCG has put in place a number of mitigation strategies to continue meeting demands for vessel time. The Vessel Life Extension strategy removes an average of two icebreakers from circulation each year but this is expected to prolong their active life by a number of years. Also, improvements have been made since CCG’s reorganization to more flexibly allocate icebreaking vessels according to priorities.


Under the sub-component of icebreaking, the CCG delivers six types of services: 1) provision of ice information and routing assistance to CCG and industry users (ice information and routing assistance); 2) icebreaking vessel escorts and interventions to free vessels beset in ice (icebreaking escort services); 3) maintenance of marine channels to prevent ice jams and flooding of riverside communities (channel maintenance); 4) breakout of ice to ensure free access to ferry access points, commercial ports, and fishing harbours (harbour breakout); 5) re-supply of northern communities; and 6) support to Arctic Sovereignty. 

Ice Information and Routing Assistance

A majority of industry and CCG users interviewed reported being satisfied with the ice information and routing assistance provided by the program. Transport Canada statistics on the number of marine incidents related to ice damage show that they have remained very low (3 incidents or less) between 2009 and 2013.

While the above findings show that this component of the program is performing well, some concerns have been raised, particularly regarding the potential impact of the removal in 2014 of CIS Ice Service Specialists from CCG vessels. There is a perceived risk that the removal of CIS Ice Service Specialists from CCG vessels could impact the quality of ice information.

Up to 2010, CCG had a partnership agreement with the CIS. This agreement was accompanied by a funding envelope intended to cover, among other services, the salary of CIS employees assigned to CCG icebreakers. The agreement expired in 2010 and has yet to be renewed (a new agreement is expected by CCG senior management to be signed by end of March 2016). However, there have been formal yearly agreements between the organizations to extend the provisions of the agreement, with reduced funding. The CCG has also started gradually decreasing its financial contribution to the CIS. CCG funding levels are currently approximately $6.6M.  The removal of Ice Service Specialists from CCG vessels in 2014 was reportedly a means for the CCG to reduce expenditures. These specialists were responsible for confirming ice forecasts produced from satellite information and for obtaining more localized information on ice conditions. 

Several key informants highlighted the risk that the removal of Ice Service Specialists could pose. There is a risk that the accuracy of ice information provided to mariners could decrease, thereby increasing the risk of vessels becoming beset in ice, which would put additional pressure on CCG icebreaking services. In some instances ship captains observed a discrepancy between their on-site observations and the ice condition forecasts issued by the CIS. When Ice Service Specialists were present on CCG vessels, their formal responsibilities included contacting the program Ice Operations Centre to report such discrepancies for the purpose of alerting mariners. In their absence, this role falls on CCG captains and watch keepers, who may communicate the information if time permits but who are not formally responsible for doing so. The accuracy of ice condition forecasts could also potentially be affected by changes to the availability of satellite imagery, which is a key source of data for producing ice information products. In the late 2000s, collaboration between CIS and the Canada Space Agency helped ensure that the new RADARSAT System (RADARSAT I) was optimized for ice detection, which reduced the need for aircraft and vessel ice reconnaissance and therefore reduced Marine Navigation program costs. RADARSAT I’s mission ended in 2013, leaving the CIS to rely on data from the remaining RADARSAT II satellite. The Canadian Space Agency is now developing a next generation of satellite. According to CESD audit findings, “acquiring radar satellite imagery from external sources to assess ice conditions has recently become more difficult.”

These changes, combined with the reduction in funding given to the CIS, could have an impact on the CIS’ capacity to ensure the continued accuracy of its ice information products.  In its audit of Marine Navigation in the Arctic the CESD raised these issues and recommended that the CCG “monitor and assess any impacts to the accuracy and timeliness of ice information that could arise from changes in the cost and/or availability of radar satellite imagery for purposes of ice information and changes in the respective roles and responsibilities s of the two departments for ice services in the Arctic.”Footnote 23 No evidence was found of steps taken to date to address this recommendation.

Icebreaking Services

Of the industry users consulted who utilize ice services, nearly two thirds were dissatisfied with the ice services provided by CCG. They commented on inconsistent ice escort services, pointing out that long wait times directly impacts economic returns for shipping companies. They however praised the professionalism and dedication of Ice Operations Centre staff as well as the CCG “doing the best it can with available vessels”. Industry stakeholders’ perception is that the gaps in icebreaking escort services they experience is due to limited icebreaking vessel availability.

Industry perceptions are somewhat supported by the data obtained on icebreaking services. CCG LoS for icebreaking require that a request for services be addressed within a specified length of time (from 5 to 24 hours depending on the area and the type of service). A minimum LoS response time has been assigned for icebreaking escorts (including convoys), freeing beset vessels, maintenance of channels/tracks in ice and commercial and fishing harbour breakout.

As illustrated in figure 1 below, program performance data shows that the overall icebreaking LoS target of 97% was not met from 2010-11 to 2014-15.


Figure 1. CCG Icebreaking Services Response Times, 2010-11 to 2014-15Footnote 24

The bar graph shows the percentage of responses which met Level of Service response time requirements, per year (the target is 97%). The percentage of responses which met response time requirements in 2010-11 was 95%, in 2011-12 it was 95%, in 2012-13 it was 92%, in 2013-14 it was 91%, and in 2014-15 it was 84%.

Figure 1
Source: IODIS; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate

The following graph presents the number of service requests addressed by the program for the winter season between 2010-11 and 2014-15, compared to the 15-year average. Winter season services are delivered in Newfoundland, Labrador, Gulf, Maritimes, St. Lawrence Waterway and Great Lakes areas.  Figures show that the number of program services more than doubled (a 151% increase) between 2012-13 and 2013-14, and reached levels significantly above the 15-year average of 781 services for 2013-14 and 2014-15. This is attributed by the program to exceptionally harsh ice conditions in winter 2014.


Figure 2. Icebreaking Services Delivered in Winter, 2010-11 to 2014-15*

The bar graph shows the number of service requests addressed by the program for the winter season per year, compared to the 15-year average of 781. In 2010-11 there were 575 service requests addressed, in 2011-12 there were 384, in 2012-13 there were 515, in 2013-14 there were 1,294, and in 2014-15 there were 1,111.

Figure 2
Source: IODIS; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate
* Not including Prevention activities and cancelled requests.

In light of this finding, the corresponding decrease of 7% in LoS appears proportionally low and suggests that, while unable to fully meet the surge in demands likely occasioned by exceptional ice conditions, the program was able to stretch its current fleet resources to address a comparatively large portion of the increase in demand. According to program representatives, a great proportion of the increased demand is attributable to ferry companies in Strait of Belle-Isle (Labrador), Magdalene Island, and Quebec North Shore increasingly operating through the winter season, which imposes an exponential demand on icebreaking services in ice-heavy winters. Specific data on the increase of ferry escort requests could not be obtained.

A similar graph for services delivered in the Arctic during summer seasons shows that the number of services delivered slightly exceeded (by 7%) the 15-year average of 29 services in summer 2014 but otherwise remained below the average for the period examined.

Figure 3. Icebreaking Services Delivered in the Arctic (Summer), 2010 to 2014*

The bar graph shows the number of service requests addressed by the program in the Arctic for the summer season per year, compared to the 15-year average of 29. In 2010 there were 15 service requests addressed, in 2011 there were 8, in 2012 there were 27, in 2013 there were 17, and in 2014 there were 31.

Figure 3
Source: IODIS; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate
* Not including Prevention activities and cancelled requests.

Table 1 shows a breakdown of icebreaking service requests delivered by region for the years 2011-12 to 2013-14 (data for previous or subsequent years is not available); along with the percentage of times the prescribed LoS was met. The number of services delivered increased from 352 to 933 in C&A from 2012-13 to 2013-14. This represents a 165% increase compared to a corresponding increase of 104% in the Atlantic Region. In spite of this comparatively higher increase in services delivered, the C&A Region saw its LoS drop by less than one percentage point (0.57%) compared to a corresponding drop of 3.08% in the Atlantic Region.

Table 1. Ice Service Requests and LoS, by Region, 2011-12 to 2013-14
Ice Service Requests and LoS, by Region, 2011-12 to 2013-14
  Total C&A Total Atlantic
Year # of requests
delivered*
% of requests
that met LOS
# of requests
delivered*
% of requests
that met LOS
2011-12 235 97.87% 157 91.72%
2012-13 352 94.89% 190 86.84%
2013-14 933 94.32% 388 83.76%
Source: IODIS; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate
* Not including Prevention activities and cancelled requests.

One must note that the above statistics do not include service requests that were either refused or cancelled for various reasons including: client vessel was able to free itself; bad weather; mechanical breakdown; higher priority; no CCG Icebreaker available; or the tasking was assigned to another icebreaker. The following table shows the number of refused/cancelled requests. The program does not currently track the specific reasons for non-delivery.

Table 2. Refused/Cancelled Icebreaking Service Requests, 2010-11 to 2014-15  

cancelled cervices
Year Cancelled Services
2010-11 14
2011-12 17
2012-13 22
2013-14 110
2014-15 42
Source: IODIS; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate

Data on Ice Conditions

Data obtained from the CISFootnote 25 confirms that the program has faced exceptional ice conditions in winter 2014 and 2015. As summarized in table 3 below, figures on ice coverage in the Gulf, Newfoundland and Labrador areas show that they have all experienced a significant number of weeks with above-average ice coverage.


Table 3. Number of weeks of ice coverage above historical median (1980-81 to 2009-10)
Number of weeks of ice coverage
Year 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Gulf 0 0 24 12
Newfoundland 3 0 23 15
Labrador 6 1 26 20
Source: Canadian Ice Service, Pre-Season Outlook. East Coast, 2011-12 to 2014-15

Additional data obtained for fiscal year 2014-15Footnote 26 also shows that after mid-February, the East Coast in its entirety was generally below the climatological normal with respect to air temperature and by mid-March 2015, the Cabot Strait and its vicinity experienced ice coverage over twice the median value. The same data source confirms that the Great Lakes experienced in 2014-15 the coldest February in recorded history, with temperature anomalies peaking at over 7 degrees Celsius below the climatological normal in many areas. Ice coverage and thickness values increased to levels well above the climatological normal. On the other hand, Labrador Coast, Hudson Bay and the Central Arctic areas experienced near normal climatological and ice conditions during the 2013 and 2014 summer seasons.

Taking into account ice condition data and statistics on the number of icebreaking service requests these past two winters, it is clear that the program has faced exceptional circumstances. Data is insufficient to predict to what extent these circumstances will reoccur in the future. It is however possible to say that current program performance falls short of its LoS and that, while the program has the capacity to meet a surge in service demand to some extent, it has not been able to fully address all service requests it has received these past two years. 

Context: Fleet Vessel Availability

The evaluation noted widespread concern across most key informant groups regarding the sufficient availability of CCG fleet vessels to meet the Marine Navigation program’s demands. Fleet vessels are primarily used by AtoN for buoy tending services, especially in the C&A and Pacific regions, and by the Icebreaking program component for icebreaking services. Concerns are based on an observed decreasing “availability” of icebreakers to respond to specific calls: response delays are perceived as getting longer and, according to some industry clients, calls are increasingly “bumped” by other priority calls such as search and rescue and resupply of remote communities.

This situation is attributed by stakeholders to an ageing fleet of vessels which has resulted in more frequent unscheduled repairs, to a procurement strategy that is perceived as insufficient to provide the needed number of replacement vessels quickly enough and that has been postponed several times, and to the resulting need to implement a vessel life extension strategy as a mitigation measure that results in taking an average of two icebreakers out of commission for extended periods each year. For the shipping industry, delays in icebreaking response have an impact on profitability. Similarly, delays in buoy placement in the spring may trigger double-piloting requirements, which reduce the profit margins of shipping companies. For industries relying on commercial marine navigation (e.g., major Canadian ports and pilotage authorities), a perceived unreliable icebreaking service may lead to shipping companies choosing other shipping routes (including transhipment via the US rather than Canadian ports), which would result in a loss of revenues.

The following figure shows CCG performance in meeting its planned vessel deployment time commitments in comparison with industry client requirements identified 2011. Client requirements and CCG planned commitments are based on a consultation approach first established in 1995 when “a Joint Industry/CCG Icebreaking Task Force was established to review the icebreaking services provided by the CCG with a view to identify cost reduction strategies and to propose an icebreaking fee structure”. Updated in 2011, the CCG Icebreaker Requirements document identifies “the type, number, timing and location of icebreakers in support of the public good, ferries and commercial users.” These requirements were taken into account by the CCG in developing its LoS and its planned deployment of CCG icebreaking resources for the period from 2011 to 2015.Footnote 27

Figure 4 shows that in the winter seasons the CCG has delivered fewer icebreaking days than initially planned in its block commitments from 2011-12 to 2014-15.  For the entire period, the difference is on average 20% when measured against planned deployment days. The average difference increases to 37% when measured against industry requirements. One must be cautious however in interpreting these figures because they correspond to anticipated rather than actual needs. For example, based on statistics on ice coverage for 2011-12 to 2013-14, the demand for services in those three years was well below forecasted needs probably due to less ice coverage. Furthermore, these results are not a reflection of actual CCG icebreaker availability since they do not take into account the fact that icebreakers remain available to respond to an icebreaking request even when they are tasked to another program.


Figure 4. Icebreaking Days Delivered – Winter (South) Season*

The bar graph shows the number of icebreaking days delivered in the winter season per year, compared to the average planned deployment days (1,648) and the average industry requirements (2,096). For 2011-12 the number of icebreaking days delivered was 1,135, for 2012-13 the number was 1,140, for 2013-14 the number was 1,565, and for 2014-15 the number was 1,461.

Figure 4
Source: IRIS database; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate
* Not including days where icebreakers were available but assigned to other programs or tasks.

Results for the Arctic show that commitments were met for the first two years but have decreased in the past three years, reaching a gap of 45% with planned deployment days in summer 2015. Again, caution must be exercised in interpreting these figures as they do not reflect the actual availability of icebreakers. Of note, the difference between planned deployed days and industry requirements is much smaller for the Arctic than for the South.

Figure 5. Icebreaking Day Delivered – Summer (Arctic) Season*

The bar graph shows the number of icebreaking days delivered in the Arctic in the summer season per year, compared to the average planned deployment days (592) and the average industry requirements (619). For 2011 the number of icebreaking days delivered was 589, for 2012 the number was 590, for 2013 the number was 497, for 2014 the number was 505, and for 2015 the number was 325.

Figure 5
Source: IRIS database; data extracted and analysed by National Strategies Directorate*
Not including days where icebreakers were available but assigned to other programs or tasks.

In response to increasing demands for vessel time by its programs and clients, the CCG has put in place a number of mitigation strategies.

In the early 2000s the CCG assessed the status of its fleet of vessels against projected needs going forward and, in light of factors such as vessel condition, life expectancy, and projected evolution of CCG program needs, subsequently developed a 30-year plan comprising a Vessel Life Extension Strategy (VLE). The VLE consists of a scheduled series of equipment overhauls and repairs intended to extend the workable life of the CCG fleet of vessels (by on average 10-15 years) to ensure the availability of the appropriate number and combination of types of vessels until procurement of new vessels is completed.

As per CCG’s initial projections, the bulk of its ageing fleet of vessels would start gradually being replaced around year 2020. In particular, budget 2012 awarded funding to procure two new medium endurance multi-task vessels (the most versatile type of vessel able to perform both icebreaking and buoy tending work in a wide range of geographical areas), scheduled to be available around 2020. The CCG is currently conducting a review of its procurement plan in light of evolving needs and unforeseen changes to initial assumptions. Among these changes was the announcement of the construction of a polar icebreaker initially scheduled to be in operation around 2020, which entailed deferring procurement of the medium endurance multi-task vessels by approximately 5 years.

Resource limitations, combined with unforeseen events (e.g., the CCGS Ann Harvey necessitated repairs this year due to an accident), have also somewhat slowed down the initial VLE schedule, triggering adjustments in the VLE plan. Recent delays in the procurement of the polar icebreaker are also being addressed by extending the life of the CCGS Louis St-Laurent, which had initially been identified for retirement. As part of the current review of its 30-year fleet renewal plan, CCG is examining interim measures, in addition to the VLE plan, to ensure that a sufficient and appropriate mix of vessels remain available to deliver needed services.

Through CCG reorganisation, efforts were also made to increase the flexible deployment of vessels where and when they are the most needed irrespective of geographical area. This improvement was noted by several key informants, both from outside and within the CCG.

Waterways Management


Key Finding: Evidence shows that the program is successful in delivering its intended Waterways Management results.


The Waterways Management program is responsible for providing channel management services. Through this program, CCG provides guidelines for the safe design and usage of channels, manages channel maintenance and dredging of the Great Lakes connecting channels and the St. Lawrence River (on a cost recovery basis), monitors channel bathymetry, and participates in the control of water level fluctuations in the St. Lawrence River. The program also enables CCG to provide marine safety information to users, including information on channel bottom condition and water depth forecasts.

Waterways Information Products and Services

The program is responsible for conducting surveys of over 50 commercial channels in order to identify and communicate water channel bottom conditions, restrictions or hazards to safe navigation.

For the period examined, data shows that 100% of planned soundings have been conducted annually to identify bottom conditions and hazards and 100% of the funds allocated to this activity are expended every year, using a national priority-based approach to allocating funds earmarked for waterways management. Program staff however specify that plans are adjusted to fit the available financial envelope, which means that the figures tracked and reported only reflect the program’s ability to deliver on its commitments, based on available resources, rather than the number/geographical coverage of soundings initially assessed as being needed.

According to several program staff members, there are many waterways that have not been surveyed for many years. It must be noted, however, that the program is not mandated to survey all existing waterways.  CCG’s LoS commit the organisation to surveying “main commercial shipping channel bottoms […] determined by historical need or event driven” and to conducting special assessments of channel conditions “based on identified need (e.g., significant change in usage, maintenance or incidents and accidents)”.Footnote 28 No data is reported on the number and length of waterways that have not been surveyed by the program or on the waterways that have been identified as needing to be surveyed.

CCG’s LoS also include issuing Notices to Shipping (NOTSHIPS) on hazardous situations related to shipping channel conditions within 24 hours of the hazard being identified or immediately if the hazard poses a serious risk.  Performance data for 2012-13 shows that this LoS was met. No conclusive data is available for the remaining years.

The program also produces water depth information and forecasts in the St. Lawrence, Fraser, Detroit and Mackenzie Rivers and contributes to the international control of water levels in the St. Lawrence waterway. Water depth forecasts are used by commercial companies to plan shipping voyages, allowing them to calculate to the nearest inch the amount of cargo they can load at the port of origin while being assured that the underkeel clearance will be sufficient, given water column depth, to be allowed to proceed through the navigation channel (e.g., St. Lawrence River Shipping Channel and Fraser River). According to program data, the frequency of delivery of water level forecasts to mariners during the ice free season has remained constant since 2009-10, with the exception of the Mackenzie River where forecasts have increased from two to three times weekly. Furthermore, over the last 3 years the St. Lawrence water level forecasts have been delivered all year round, including during the ice season, in response to industry requests.

In Western Region, information on water depth and bottom conditions for the Fraser River is available on CCG’s AVADepth website. In the C&A Region, similar information is posted on the MarInfo website.

The program is encouraged by industry stakeholders to further increase the precision of such forecasts (i.e., to optimize water depth management, which comprises both channel bottom and water level forecasts) in order to allow them to further maximise their cargo load. The Port of Montreal is currently leading a pilot project (called the Dynamic Underwater Keel Clearance project), in collaboration with the program’s C&A office and a private firm to develop a more sophisticated methodology and system for calculating the underkeel clearance of ships in consideration of specific ships, speed, water current, etc. This project is welcomed by industry and its results are highly anticipated.

Overall, most industry stakeholders reported being satisfied with the waterways information and forecasts provided by the program.

Waterways Dredging

In the mid-1990s, a decision was taken by the Government of Canada that the private sector and ports benefiting from dredging were to assume financial responsibility for this work. This decision was based on a recommendation from the Standing Committee on Transport that dredging should be the responsibility of the ports and other beneficiaries where they could be identified. Consequently, CCG terminated its national dredging program in 1998 with exception to the navigational channels that connect the Great Lakes (Detroit, St. Clair and St. Mary’s Rivers and Lake St. Clair) as Canada has a commitment to the United States to maintain the Canadian portions of the channels. At the same time, CCG also accepted a marine industry proposal to continue to maintain the main channels in the St. Lawrence River between Cape Gribane and Port of Montreal on a cost recovery basis.Footnote 29

Program performance data shows that the program has dredged 100% of channel areas required within its LoS each year from 2010-11 to 2012-13. National data was not made available to the evaluation team for the two most recent years. Industry clients are generally satisfied with the quality of the work performed for those areas under the program’s responsibility.

Minutes from NMAB meetings as well as interviews with a number of industry clients revealed that they are less satisfied with the CCG’s response to their evolving dredging needs. Namely, they would like the CCG to become more engaged in addressing evolving dredging needs as marine navigation traffic increases and the design of shipping vessels evolve. Dredging is however not part of the Agency’s mandate except for very specific areas and the CCG has declined to consider modifying its level of involvement.Footnote 30


Overall Outcomes


Key Finding: Overall data shows that the program is meeting its intended outcomes of “facilitated access to/movement through main marine channels” and program contribution to “economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries”.


Combined, all three program components contribute to achieving the program’s intended outcomes of “facilitated access to/movement through main marine channels” and program contribution to “economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries”.

Notably, data from the Transportation Safety Board of CanadaFootnote 31 shows that shipping accidents due to grounding have declined by more than 50% between 2002 and 2014, reaching a low of 61 incidents in 2014 from a high of 129 incidents in 2002. The prevalence of shipping accidents due to ice damage has significantly fluctuated over the same period, alternating between spikes of 28 incidents in 2003 and 26 incidents in 2007 to lows of zero incidents in 2009 and 2011. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of incidents has nevertheless remained at 2 or below per year.

The major Canadian ports represented by the Association of Canadian Port Authorities also report a 25% increase in tonnage handled by their ports between 2009 and 2014.Footnote 32 While this outcome cannot be solely attributed to safe and efficient marine navigation, program success is nevertheless a key contributing factor.


4.3 Assessment of Resource Allocation


Key Finding: Qualitative observation of administrative practices revealed that the CCG has experienced both efficiency gains and losses as it proceeded through significant organisational change. No clear evidence was found that these changes have had important impacts on the program’s achievement of intended outcomes. It is also too early in the implementation of the CCG reorganisation to determine whether noted efficiency losses are due to limitations inherent to the program or to the temporary organisational change process. There is however clear evidence of the loss of a clear point of contact at Headquarters to provide operational coordination and support for specific program components. Several efforts aimed at improving program efficiency are either completed or underway. These are expected to mitigate, to some extent, the capacity issues and program management challenges attributed to recent organizational changes. Strengthening the program’s performance measurement tools and processes would help program management address the above-noted challenges and manage risks associated with them.


This section examines variations in actual expenditures across the five years examined, as well as provides a qualitative analysis of administrative practices as they pertain to efficient use of resources and a review of possible program alternatives.

Analysis of Program Expenditures and Human Resources Utilization Data

Tables 4 to 7 show total direct program expenditures by category of expenditure, followed by a more specific breakdown by program component. Fluctuations in overall expenditures from year to year are in large part due to variations in the usage and price of fuel, usage being in turn largely dependent on ice conditions.

Delivery of the program also entails significant indirect expenditures from enabler services, the most important ones being life cycle asset management (services delivered by the CCG’s Integrated Asset Management unit) and fleet operational readiness (services delivered by the CCG fleet, corresponding essentially to the use of CCG vessels). These indirect costs accrue mostly to AtoN and Icebreaking. For AtoN, life cycle asset management expenditures have increased from $27.5M in 2010-11 to $33M in 2014-15 while fleet expenditures have gone from $51.3M to $52.7M during that period. Icebreaking Services have in contrast seen their expenditures more than double during that period. Expenditures for life cycle asset management have grown from $627,000 in 2010-11 to $1.9M in 2014-15. For fleet services they have increased from $63M to $124M during that same period. Total indirect costs for Waterways Management have remained below one million during that period.

Table 4. Total - Marine Navigation Program, Direct Program Expenditures, 2010-11 to 2014-15 (‘000)
Table 4
Expenditure category 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Salary 15,405 17,125 18,058 14,939 15,057
O&M 19,678 20,442 21,649 21,409 20,006
Vote-Netted Revenue -11,270 -12,310 -13,227 -12,267 -13,835
Fuel 13,155 20,979 21,674 26,344 27,296
Total 36,968 46,237 48,154 50,425 48,523
Source: Trial Balance (Expense Allocation Tables for Departmental Performance Report)

Table 5. Aids to Navigation, Direct Program Expenditures, 2010-11 to 2014-15 (‘000)
Table 5
Expenditure category 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Salary 11,430 12,664 13,450 11,046 11,303
O&M 4,062 4,078 4,242 4,091 4,652
Vote-Netted Revenue -4,730 -4,968 -4,937 -4,842 -4,936
Fuel 4,752 7,049 7,472 10,366 6,875
Total 15,515 18,824 20,227 20,662 17,894
Source: Trial Balance (Expense Allocation Tables for Departmental Performance Report)

Table 6. Icebreaking, Direct Program Expenditures, 2010-11 to 2014-15 (‘000)
Table 6
Expenditure category 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Salary 812 923 900 947 887
O&M 8,984 8,702 8,877 8,850 7,230
Vote-Netted Revenue -814 -820 -918 -910 -872
Fuel 8,344 13,870 14,155 15,894 20,421
Total 17,326 22,676 23,014 24,781 27,667
Source: Trial Balance (Expense Allocation Tables for Departmental Performance Report)

Table 7. Waterways Management, Direct Program Expenditures, 2010-11 to 2014-15 (‘000)
Table 7
Expenditure category 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Salary 3,163 3,537 3,708 2,946 2,866
O&M 6,632 7,662 8,530 8,468 8,124
Vote-Netted Revenue -5,726 -6,522 -7,372 -6,515 -8,027
Fuel 59 60 47 83 -1
Total 4,127 4,738 4,913 4,982 2,962
Source: Trial Balance (Expense Allocation Tables for Departmental Performance Report)

Figure 6 illustrates direct expenditures by program component without including fuel costs. Data shows that overall direct program expenditures have peaked in 2012-13, followed by a decrease of $5.3M between 2012-13 and 2014-15. This decrease is attributed to the implementation of Deficit Reduction Action Plan measures announced in Budget 2012. The $722,000 expenditure increase observed for AtoN between 2013-14 and 2014-15 is attributed in part to the completion of staffing actions related to the new CCG organisational structure.

Figure 6. Direct Program Expenditures (without Fuel), by Program Component ($'000)

The line graph shows the direct program expenditures, excluding fuel, per year and broken down by program component (in thousands of dollars). For 2010-11, AtoN expenditures were 10,763, Icebreaking expenditures were 8,982, Waterways Management expenditures were 4,068, and total expenditures were 23, 813. For 2011-12, AtoN expenditures were 11,775, Icebreaking expenditures were 8,805, Waterways Management expenditures were 4,678, and total expenditures were 25,258. For 2012-13, AtoN expenditures were 12,755, Icebreaking expenditures were 8,859, Waterways Management expenditures were 4,866, and total expenditures were 26,480. For 2013-14, AtoN expenditures were 10,296, Icebreaking expenditures were 8,887, Waterways Management expenditures were 4,899, and total expenditures were 24,081. For 2014-15, AtoN expenditures were 11,018, Icebreaking expenditures were 7,245, Waterways Management expenditures were 2,963, and total expenditures were 21,227.

Figure 6

Source: Trial Balance (Expense Allocation Tables for Departmental Performance Report)


Data on human resource utilization shows that AtoN is the largest of the three Marine Navigation program components and that it has seen a decrease of 10 FTEs since 2012-13. The Icebreaking and Waterways components have also experienced a decrease in human resource utilization during that period. These are mostly attributed to the CCG’s reorganisation exercise in 2012, which entailed the reduction of a few positions but also the transfer of some positions to transformed organisational structures. A small FTE increase (i.e., 4 FTEs) occurred for AtoN in 2014-15. These are attributed by CCG representatives to staffing actions being completed for previously vacant positions, most significantly in the National Strategies Directorate, as well as the addition of two new positions related to a new Alternative Service Delivery initiative. FTE data is consistent with the information obtained from evaluation interviews.

Figure 7. Program FTES, Actual Utilization

The bar graph shows program FTEs, by program component, by year. For 2010-11, AtoN had 200 FTEs, Icebreaking had 9, and Waterways had 41. For 2011-12, AtoN had 191 FTEs, Icebreaking had 14, and Waterways had 35. For 2012-13, AtoN had 196 FTEs, Icebreaking had 11, and Waterways had 34. For 2013-14, AtoN had 180 FTEs, Icebreaking had 9, and Waterways had 30. For 2014-15, AtoN had 186 FTEs, Icebreaking had 9, and Waterways had 26.

Figure 6

Source: Departmental SMIS System

Qualitative Assessment of Administrative Practices

Testimonies from program representatives suggest that the program may be facing capacity and workload issues, both in the regions and Headquarters. Following CCG reorganization, the merging of regions and regional boundary changes resulted in a number of employees and their managers working from separate locations (e.g., in the Atlantic Region Superintendents are located in St John’s, Newfoundland, whereas their staff members can work in either the St. John’s or Halifax office).

As a result of the merger of the former Quebec and Central & Arctic regions, the new C&A Region must also address language barrier challenges. In addition, evidence was found of high turnover of staff occupying Superintendent positions. At the time of the evaluation, all four positions in C&A and Atlantic regions were occupied in an acting capacity by individuals who had been in the position for less than 12 months. In Western Region, the significant move of the regional office from Vancouver to Victoria along with the transfer of responsibility of the Mackenzie River and Lake Winnipeg from C&A to Western also presented some unique challenges.  While these changes took place, three of the four Superintendent positions were vacant and had to be filled on an urgent basis along with relocation of staff. Program representatives report that staffing actions are currently underway to permanently fill superintendent positions across all regions.

These factors as well as other Departmental/government-wide change initiatives (e.g., modified ship inspection requirements introduced by Transport Canada; new pay systems that require staff training while other transitions are taking place in the workplace; emerging demands for additional processes and levels of authority for staffing decisions; etc.) have contributed to short-term losses in efficiency as the new teams are progressing through the change process. For example, full integration of ice operations from the former two regions in the new C&A Ice Operations Centre in Montreal was only completed in the spring of 2015, three years after the reorganization. The office responsible for administering the NOTMAR services saw its staff complement reduced from seven to four. This reduction in capacity was to be compensated for with the modernization of working tools; however, the positions were eliminated before the modernization could be implemented. This reportedly impeded the program’s ability to implement the needed changes. As a result, concerns have been expressed regarding the quality of information products being produced by the program. In the western part of country, the new initiative for implementation of Kitimat aids to navigation has increased the workload of existing staff. The Northern Gateway project, along with other proposed liquefied natural gas terminal projects, has also increased the workload significantly during a time of major organizational transition.

By all accounts, the new program organisational structure at Headquarters has reduced the program’s capacity to provide central coordination and support to the Department, regions and program partners on operational questions related to specific program components (i.e., AtoN, Icebreaking, and Waterways Management). Prior to program redesign and CCG reorganisation, program stakeholders could address their questions to a single program-specific point of contact at Headquarters. This contact had access to sufficient corporate memory and expertise to readily address any question or issue with a national perspective. Since 2012, there is strong consensus that this capacity and expertize were lost.

Evidence nevertheless suggests that the reorganization has helped reduce regional administrative siloes and maximize available resources. For instance, the integration of Waterways Management staff in the AtoN program team in the Western Region was seen as a positive contribution because it enables AtoN staff to more easily leverage the expertise of Waterways Management employees. The creation of a dedicated CCG National Strategies Directorate has also improved the program’s capacity to plan strategically, as evidenced by the successful bid for World Class Initiative funding. The reorganisation is also perceived by a wide cross-section of stakeholders as having contributed to more flexible and responsive assigning of CCG vessels according to priorities.

Overall, this evidence suggests that the organisation has experienced both efficiency gains and losses as it proceeded through significant organisational change. No clear evidence was found that these changes have had important impacts on the program’s achievement of intended outcomes. It is also too early in the implementation of the CCG reorganisation to determine whether noted efficiency losses are due to limitations inherent to the program or to the temporary organisational change process, with the exception of the above-noted diminished central coordination and support capacity.

Alternatives to Current Program Design

Few alternatives could be identified to the program’s current design. The CCG attempted to implement in 2014 an Alternative Service Delivery of Buoy Tending Services project. This initiative aimed at reducing the AtoN program’s reliance on CCG vessels for buoy tending services, and thereby producing cost savings, by outsourcing buoy tending to private contractors. At the time, approximately 90% of buoy tending work was successfully outsourced in the Atlantic Region. This model was to be extended to the C&A and Western regions, where only a minority of buoy tending was outsourced, and even more widely implemented in the Atlantic Region. The tending of more than 4,000 buoys was thus slated for contracting out. The initiative targeted buoys that are 1.4 meters or less in length, which could more easily be tended by vessels of varying size. To further expand the range of possible contractors, the program was simultaneously working on a project to transition from using steel buoys to using lighter buoy models made of plastic. The initiative was however unsuccessful because the contractor bids received were less numerous than expected, did not cover all the geographical areas requiring tending services, and presented costs well above program estimates. This eliminated all potential savings expected from this initiative.  A post-mortem analysis conducted by Public Works and Government Services Canada attributed this outcome to a number of factors:

  • Fewer contractors than expected owned vessels of the needed size, which resulted in a more limited number of bids;
  • Bidders’ sensitivity to the many risks entailed by such contracts (e.g., fluctuating fuel costs) drove their prices up; and
  • The large distances between several buoy tending sites and the potential bidders’ other activities meant higher fuel costs and more limited potential economies of scale, again driving their prices up.

For the icebreaking program component, the only possible alternative identified would be to encourage the increase in ice capability of commercial vessels transiting through Canadian waters during ice seasons in order to reduce reliance on CCG icebreaking vessels. This would however require legislative changes that are outside the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ jurisdiction since the regulation of vessel capability falls under the authority of the Department of Transport.

Performance Measurement

The program is guided by a performance measurement strategy and LoS indicators that are intended to provide program managers and CCG senior management with the required information to monitor program performance and report back to decision-makers and program stakeholders.

The evaluation identified a number of issues related to the quality and quantity of performance data collected by the program. CCG National Strategies Directorate completed in 2015 an assessment of the program’s performance indicators which found that four (4) indicators were “good”, three (3) were “reasonable”, and five (5) were weak. Weaknesses pertained to indicators often focusing solely on the timeliness of the services provided and not measuring the most crucial criteria of quality and effectiveness of the products or services.

Evidence collected through the evaluation process confirmed CCG’s assessment of program indicators as well as identified specific additional areas that should be considered for performance measurement. For instance, data is currently not collected on the timeliness of seasonal buoy placement and removal.  Similarly, data is not systematically compiled in a manner that allows monitoring and reporting on requests received for buoy tending (e.g., repair, repositioning) versus tending work completed.  Also, identified needs for channel surveying are not systematically compiled, thereby preventing any monitoring of the gap between needed and actual program services.

Finally, issues were raised by program staff regarding the reliability of some of the performance data being collected, in particular inconsistent data entry in the SIPA database used to record the operational status of short-range aids to navigation and the absence of standard data collection and tracking systems for several performance indicators. The program also faced challenges in managing the IODIS system used to record data on icebreaking services. Responsibility for this system was transferred from Headquarters to the C&A Region in 2012. Shortly thereafter a data integrity problem was detected in relation to the mobile IODIS application installed onboard CCG vessels. This problem, combined with technical support challenges encountered by regional employees, has reportedly led to a decision by C&A Region employees to abandon the use of the IODIS system and to resort to a local spreadsheet solution while the technical problems were being resolved. To date, no formal decision has been made on the solution to be adopted but program representatives report that options are currently being explored. Meanwhile these challenges, combined with resource limitations, have impacted the ability of the program to promptly extract and analyse data and to report on icebreaking services performance.

It is important for the program to address the above-mentioned limitations because the absence of performance data hampers its ability to report accurately on its performance, to make evidence-based decisions, and to identify, monitor and manage risks.

5.0 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Conclusions

Relevance

There is clear evidence of continued need for the program. All three program components are essential to the safe, economical and efficient use of Canadian waterways for commercial, recreational and subsistence purposes, as well as the prevention of marine incidents that could lead to environmental contamination.

The program is clearly aligned with federal roles and responsibilities and government priorities since it falls directly under the minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ legislated mandate for matters related to safe and efficient marine navigation on Canadian waterways and it supports the implementation of federal priorities related to international trade and the safe navigation of oil tankers.

Performance

The evaluation found that the Marine Navigation Program is generally delivering its intended services and meeting its intended outcomes of facilitating safe access to/movement through main marine channels and contributing to economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries. No clear evidence was found of major gaps in services or of significant shortfalls in terms of marine efficiency or safety. Also, some key program improvements are underway such as the development of four-season buoys, more optimal water depth management, and ongoing efforts to modernize the marine aids network.

Nevertheless, some evidence suggests that risks may be increasing due to asset (e.g., AtoN and CCG vessels) deterioration, the loss of clear points of contact for program expertise and coordination at Headquarters, and insufficient data on program performance. CCG managers are aware of these risks, as illustrated in the 2014 Marine Navigation Risk Profile, and some mitigation actions are being implemented such as the Vessel Life Extension program.

As demands for program services are increasing and evolving, the CCG must continue and improve its continuous monitoring of program performance.

5.2 Recommendations

The evaluation made two recommendations.

Recommendation 1

Rationale: CCG reorganization in 2012 introduced a new governance and organizational structure at Headquarters. The reorganization involved replacing specific organizational units with a general division responsible for the operations of all CCG programs. The absence of specific points of contacts in the organization has had an impact on the efficient delivery of the program. It has hindered timely access to program expertise and corporate memory by program stakeholders and partners. They are now unclear where to go for this expertise.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner, Operations: a) designate a point of contact for each of the two main program sub-components (i.e., AtoN/Waterways Management and Icebreaking), b) develop a statement of roles and responsibilities for these points of contact, and c) develop and implement a strategy to disseminate this information to all program stakeholders (i.e., CCG Headquarters, CCG regions, and program delivery partners).

Recommendation 2

Rationale: Available information collected as part of the evaluation suggests that the program may be facing risks related to: 1) AtoN asset deterioration; 2) impacts of resource reductions and organisational changes on the regions’ ability to deliver reliable information products such as Notices to Mariners; 3) provision of accurate and timely information on channel bottom conditions for key waterways; and 4) possible unforeseen delays in CCG vessel life extension and vessel procurement and schedules, and potential resulting impacts on AtoN and Icebreaking Services. However, current data is insufficient to accurately estimate the magnitude and likelihood of those risks and to verify that current risk mitigation actions are appropriate and sufficient. In particular, data is missing on the timeliness of buoy tending services, reasons for refusing or cancelling icebreaking service requests, and initial needs identified for waterways surveying. Also, the quality/accuracy of NOTMAR notices and icebreaking information products are not systematically monitored and the assessments of aids asset systems condition, while improving, are still not conducted at the required pace. Finally, the current systems (SIPA and IODIS) both require adjustments to improve the reliability of data on the aids’ operational status and the timeliness of icebreaking services. Such data is required to conduct proper risk-based planning.

Recommendation:  It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner, Operations and the Deputy Commissioner, Strategies and Ship Building ensure that sufficient data is collected to allow for appropriate risk-based planning of Marine Navigation Program activities.

ANNEX A: METHODOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS AND MITIGATION STRATEGIES

Limitation 1: Due to evaluation resource limitations and the absence of contact information on most program target client groups, the evaluation consulted only one category of program clients: domestic industry users of marine navigation products and services.

Mitigation strategy 1: Domestic industry clients (e.g., shipping companies, port authorities, ferries, pilotage authorities) were chosen because:

  • they are the most easily reachable (CCG has a consultation platform in place through the NMAB);
  • they contribute directly to the program’s strategic outcome of economically prosperous maritime sectors;
  • members of the NMAB were deemed an adequate proxy for other users of Marine Navigation services given that they use the entire range of services (AtoN, Waterways Management and Icebreaking); and
  • previous evaluations examined more in-depth the full range of program services and their reach, including feedback from a wider range of program users.

Limitation 2:The evaluation encountered challenges measuring Marine Navigation outcomes due to absence or unreliability of data on program outputs and performance, as well as loss of corporate memory resulting from recent program organisational changes.

Mitigation strategy 2: The evaluation team augmented the number of interviews and documents reviewed to ensure that the program was accurately captured and that the key findings were factually correct. As this evaluation included key informant interviews, document reviews, and a site visit, there was sufficient data from multiple lines of evidence for triangulation of results.

Limitation 3: The evaluation did not address the topic of user fees since an internal review of user fees is currently underway so an examination of this aspect would not be timely.

Mitigation strategy 3: The evaluation level of effort was calibrated to focus on the most strategic aspects of the program.

Limitation 4: The limited cost and results information collected through this evaluation, combined with the complexity of the program’s activities (three program components as well as four – if we include national headquarters – regional realities), did not enable an exhaustive assessment of all aspects of efficiency and economy.           

Mitigation strategy 4: The evaluation level of effort was calibrated to focus on variations in actual expenditures across the five years examined, as well as a qualitative analysis of administrative practices as they pertain to efficient use of resources and a review of possible program alternatives.

ANNEX B: MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN

annex b
Recommendation 1

Rationale: CCG reorganization in 2012 introduced a new governance and organizational structure at Headquarters. The reorganization involved replacing specific organizational units with a general division responsible for the operations of all CCG programs. The absence of specific points of contacts in the organization has had an impact on the efficient delivery of the program. It has hindered timely access to program expertise and corporate memory by program stakeholders and partners. They are now unclear where to go for this expertise.

Recommendation 1: It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner responsible for CCG Program Operations: a) designate a point of contact for each of the two main program sub-components (i.e., Aids to Navigation (AtoN)/Waterways Management and Icebreaking), b) develop a statement of roles and responsibilities for these points of contact, and c) develop and implement a strategy to disseminate this information to all program stakeholders (i.e., CCG Headquarters, CCG regions, and program delivery partners).
Strategy
The Deputy Commissioner, Operations agrees with this recommendation and designates the Manager, Operational Marine Navigation as the contact for Aids to Navigation/Waterways Management and the Manager, Operational Readiness as the contact for Icebreaking. Statements of roles and responsibilities for these contacts will be developed in consultation with key program delivery partners and will formalize an informal process that is already in place. Following completion of these requirements, the contact information and statements of roles and responsibilities will be disseminated to the program stakeholders, as identified in the recommendation.
Management Actions Due Date (by end of month) Status Update: Completed / On Target  / Revised Date and Reason for Change Output
1.1 - Designate points of contact for AtoN/Waterways Management and for Icebreaking February 2016 Completed  
1.2 - Develop initial statements of roles and responsibilities for the two identified contacts May 2016    
1.3 - Consult with key program delivery partners on the development of the statements of roles and responsibilities June 2016    
1.4 - Finalize statements of roles and responsibilities for the two identified contacts July 2016    
1.5 - Disseminate contact information and associated roles and responsibilities to the program stakeholders. August 2016    
Recommendation 2

Rationale: Available information collected as part of the evaluation suggests that the program may be facing risks related to: 1) AtoN asset deterioration; 2) impacts of resource reductions and organisational changes on the regions’ ability to deliver reliable information products such as Notices to Mariners; 3) provision of accurate and timely information on channel bottom conditions for key waterways; and 4) possible unforeseen delays in CCG vessel life extension and vessel procurement and schedules, and potential resulting impacts on AtoN and Icebreaking Services. However, current data is insufficient to accurately estimate the magnitude and likelihood of those risks and to verify that current risk mitigation actions are appropriate and sufficient. In particular, data is missing on the timeliness of buoy tending services, reasons for refusing or cancelling icebreaking service requests, and initial needs identified for waterways surveying. Also, the quality/accuracy of NOTMAR notices and icebreaking information products are not systematically monitored and the assessments of aids asset systems condition, while improving, are still not conducted at the required pace. Finally, the current systems (SIPA and IODIS) both require adjustments to improve the reliability of data on the aids’ operational status and the timeliness of icebreaking services. Such data is required to conduct proper risk-based planning.

Recommendation 2: It is recommended that the Deputy Commissioner responsible for CCG Program Operations and the Deputy Commissioner responsible for National Strategies and Ship Building ensure that sufficient data is collected to allow for appropriate risk-based planning of Marine Navigation Program activities.
Strategy

The Deputy Commissioner, Operations and the Deputy Commissioner, Strategy & Shipbuilding agree with this recommendation but currently have insufficient information and program resources to ensure that sufficient data is collected and appropriately packaged in a timeframe typically preferred (i.e. 2 years) under a Management Action Plan.

The Marine Navigation Program is currently engaged in a risk-based approach to modernizing Canada’s marine navigation system. As part of Government efforts to improve marine safety, several multi-year reviews are already underway to assess program components, such as the national system of aids to navigation, including in the Canadian Arctic. Channel bottom surveys are being conducted for Canada’s 47 commercial waterways based on an established prioritization system. A national communications and monitoring systems review is in development. Beyond this, the program meets with stakeholders annually to inform planning for the deployment of icebreakers. In response to the audit report, Marine Navigation in the Canadian Arctic, by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Program is also implementing commitments, such as: assessing aids to navigation needs; and assessing the impacts of changes to costs and availability of radar satellite imagery for the purpose of ice information.

In order to fully address the more general question of ensuring the collection of sufficient program data, the Marine Navigation Program must first review the foundational information (expected outcomes and performance measurement framework) to be positioned to confirm, refine, align and prioritize program data requirements. For this review, the Program will leverage the process and the results of the current departmental Program Outcomes and Performance Indicators Review. The identification of data requirements will also be informed by a Canadian Coast Guard review of information systems to support operations.

Completing this work in an integrated and succinct manner will also need to consider the yet to be determined implications of the Government’s initiative to define the way it measures results and overall program performance.

Considering these factors, the program commits to first identify and prioritize data requirements for appropriate risk-based planning of Marine Navigation Program activities. Then, the program will develop an implementation plan, identifying resource requirements. Through this process, the program will also further investigate and address the evidence underpinning this recommendation.

Concurrently, Coast Guard will implement a new directive to ensure that personnel are entering data into existing systems in a nationally consistent manner. Coast Guard will continue to measure existing indicators until such time as the more detailed process has been reviewed and implemented.

Management Actions Due Date (by end of month) Status Update: Completed / On Target  / Revised Date and Reason for Change Output
2.1 - Implement a directive to ensure nationally consistent entering of data into existing software systems in support of the Marine Navigation Program. April 2016    
2.2 - Complete the review of Marine Navigation program outcomes and performance indicators. June 2016    
2.3 - Identify the technical resources required to assist with the implementation plan via the IMTS business intake process. December 2016    
2.4 - Identify and prioritize program data requirements to allow for the appropriate risk-based planning of Marine Navigation Program activities. March 2017    
2.5 - Subject to appropriate resources / systems being approved and developed, the new performance indicators and data capture will be implemented. (Note: effectiveness of new performance data to be validated subsequently) March 2018