Archived - Government of Canada Response to the Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans: Rising to the Arctic Challenge: Report on the Canadian Coast Guard

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October 8, 2009


The Government of Canada would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (SCOFO) for its Second Report: Rising to the Arctic Challenge: Report on the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). The Government has thoroughly reviewed, and given careful consideration, to the recommendations contained in this report.

The Government is actively involved in the North, which is one of its top priorities, and has made extensive progress on its Northern Strategy, a horizontal initiative led by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), which was announced by the Prime Minister in August 2007 and recently reaffirmed with the publication of the policy paper Canada’s Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future.

The purpose of this whole-of-government approach to the North is to provide an integrated Northern Strategy focused on: exercising Canada’s Arctic sovereignty as international interest in the region rises; encouraging social and economic development and regulatory improvements that benefit Northerners; adapting to climate change and ensuring sensitive ecosystems are protected for future generations; and, providing Northerners with more control over their livelihood. 

Within this context, the Government agrees with the Committee’s assessment of the need for intervention in the North in support of Canada’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, as well as with the important role the CCG plays in the Arctic. The Government is also supportive of many of the Committee’s recommendations, and is pleased to report that work is already underway, or has been completed, on many of these initiatives.

Regarding the various waterways known as the “Northwest Passage” (hereafter “Northwest Passage” refers to these various waterways), the Government has consistently stated in a number of forums that these waterways are internal waters of Canada, and that Canada has an unfettered right to regulate these waters as it would with regard to land territory. Navigation in these waters is taking place under Canadian regulation and control, and is subject to stringent environmental laws, such as the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act (AWPPA), which was amended in 2009 to extend its application from 100 to 200 nautical miles. The AWPPA applies to Canada’s internal waters and to all of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Arctic. 

In addition, Canada’s presence and capacity in the Arctic are strengthened by CCG’s vessel activities and maritime services, many of which are delivered in partnership with, and in support of, other federal departments and agencies, academic institutions, and northern communities.  For example, the CCG provides: icebreaking services; aids to navigation; assistance in re-supplying Arctic communities; marine communications and traffic services; and, support for scientific activities, such as those related to the International Polar Year (IPY) and establishing the limit of Canada’s outer continental shelf consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). By undertaking these responsibilities, the CCG plays an important role in exercising Canada’s sovereignty, and maintaining its security in the Arctic, which, in turn, helps safeguard Canadian values. 

The Government agrees with the Committee on the need to engage with the international community. Canada asserts its leadership in the North through its foreign policy in the Arctic. It is a member of many multilateral organizations, such as the Arctic Council, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), and participated in the recently concluded IPY, which are important vehicles for advancing Canadian interests in the Arctic.   

Canada engages with a number of Arctic coastal states and other interested states (e.g. China) and entities (e.g. the European Union [EU]). Canada also signed the Ilulissat Declaration, adopted in Greenland on May 28, 2008 by the five coastal states of the Arctic Ocean (Canada, the United States [US], Russia, Denmark, and Norway), which articulated the will to advance work on Arctic issues through existing frameworks of international agreements and UNCLOS, and agreed to intensify their cooperation in the areas of Search and Rescue (SAR), protection of the marine environment, safety of navigation, and scientific research, and to continue to contribute actively to the work of the Arctic Council. 

Canada recently co-led the development of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) with the US and Finland, which was presented at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in April 2009. The AMSA is the first comprehensive review of circumpolar shipping activities and will increase understanding of current and future shipping activities, as well as potential environmental and socio-economic implications in the Arctic.

Once again, the Government wishes to thank the Senate SCOFO for its report. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in collaboration with the Ministers of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, National Defence, Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Foreign Affairs, will continue to work towards ensuring the safety and sustainability of the North for Canadians and Northerners.

Recommendation 1:

The Committee recommends that Canada uphold its position that the waters of the “Northwest Passage” are its internal waters, and that Canada should be prepared to defend any legal challenge.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation and has consistently stated in a number of forums that the waterways of the "Northwest Passage" are internal waters of Canada and that Canada has an unfettered right to regulate these waters as it would with regard to land territory. Canada maintains that all waters within the Arctic archipelago are internal waters of Canada by virtue of historic title. For greater clarity, Canada drew straight baselines around these Arctic islands in 1986. Since the internal character of these waters is derived from historic title and not the drawing of the baselines, no right of innocent passage or of transit passage exists through them. Further, title is not linked to the extent of the ice-cover and is consequently undiminished by any reduction of the ice. 

Navigation in these waters is taking place under Canadian regulation and control and is subject to stringent environmental laws, such as the AWPPA. The disagreement with the US over the "Northwest Passage" is a dispute over the legal status of the waters and not over ownership or sovereignty. Despite this disagreement, Canada and the US signed the Agreement on Arctic Cooperation in 1988, which requires the US to seek consent for US government icebreakers to use these waters, without prejudice to either party's legal position. The agreement has been respected and has worked well for both sides, thus Canada does not foresee any imminent challenges to its legal position. However, the Government will vigorously defend Canada's position if it is challenged. 

Recommendation 2:

The Committee recommends that Canada develop a much stronger year-round, national presence and enforcement capability to show the world that Canada is serious about controlling the “Northwest Passage”, protecting Canadian interests and Canada’s northern residents, and making the waterway a safe and efficient shipping route.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

The Government remains committed to the protection of Canada’s safety, security, and the exercise of sovereignty in the Arctic, including in and around the “Northwest Passage”, through coordinated interdepartmental efforts. Safety, sovereignty, security, and enforcement activities in the Arctic feature prominently in the mandates of several departments and agencies. 

The Arctic is a central focus of the Department of National Defence’s (DND) Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS). As part of this Strategy, a number of investments and commitments have been made in both northern capabilities and presence of the Canadian Forces (CF), including:

DND is also enhancing its surveillance capabilities for the region, including through Polar Epsilon, a project designed to use the imagery from the RADARSAT II satellite to provide much better situational awareness of our Arctic land and waters. 

The CCG provides a significant presence in the Arctic, including in the “Northwest Passage”, and supports enforcement activities. Annually, from late June to early November, when marine activity levels are highest, the CCG deploys its seven icebreakers and other vessels into the region. The CCG’s acquisition of a new Polar icebreaker, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, which was funded in Budget 2008 and is scheduled for delivery in 2017, will improve the CCG’s capabilities and extend its operating period in the Arctic from five months to nine months. 

These CCG vessels provide a wide-range of essential northern shipping services, including: escorting commercial ships through ice to ensure access to Northern communities; supporting scientific endeavors, such as marine science, hydrographic charting and mapping the limit of Canada’s outer continental shelf in support of Canada’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS); aids to navigation in Canadian Arctic waterways; acting as the primary response lead for pollution incidents and environmental accidents north of 60° latitude; providing marine SAR capability; and, delivering food, cargo, and fuel to remote sites where commercial ships do not go. These vessels also support, when requested, the national security and enforcement mandates of other departments and agencies, including conducting joint national security exercises with DND. 

The CCG is responsible for providing year-round Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) in the Arctic, which also demonstrates a strong Canadian presence in the region. The MCTS, which operates out of three Arctic Centres (two seasonal in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and Iqaluit, Nunavut and one in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, is responsible for a wide variety of services in the North, including: screening vessels for safety and environmental protection before they enter the Arctic Canada Traffic Zone; supporting Canada’s SAR responsibilities by monitoring radio channels; monitoring dangerous ice conditions; providing routing and meteorological information to facilitate safe sailing in the Arctic; providing marine telephone services, such as radio medical calls; gathering, on behalf of Transport Canada (TC), foreign-flag vessel Pre-Arrival Information Reports 96 hours before a vessel enters Canadian waters; and, beginning in 2010, enforcing the proposed new Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations (NORDREG) (currently known as the Arctic Canada Traffic System (NORDREG) for applicable vessels, which will further enhance Canada’s presence and control of marine activity in the North.

CCG is also helping to sustain the Government’s efforts to enhance maritime domain awareness in the Arctic through the implementation of the vessel Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system, pursuant to the IMO’s approval of the international regulation within the SOLAS Convention. The LRIT system is a satellite-based vessel monitoring tool designed to track SOLAS-class vessels, aid in SAR missions, and help address environmental response issues. In addition, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), through the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), has a program for charting the northern waters pursuant to the Oceans Act to ensure that ships have the most up-to-date CHS charts and publications, as required by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations 1995 and the AWPPA.

TC works closely with its partners in the North to ensure that Arctic shipping routes continue to be safe, secure, and efficient and to protect the Arctic marine environment. The Marine Transportation Security Regulations requires non-SOLAS vessels over 100 gross registered tons or carrying more than 12 passengers and SOLAS vessels over 500 gross registered tons to submit a pre-arrival information report 96 hours prior to entering Canadian waters, including Arctic waters. While in Canadian Arctic waters, vessels of 300 gross registered tons or more report status and position information on a voluntary basis to NORDREG.

In addition, TC’s National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) Dash 7 provides surveillance (approximately 400 hours in 2009) and support to CCG vessels in the Arctic during the shipping season. This surveillance aircraft has recently been modernized with an integrated suite of marine pollution surveillance equipment, which will enhance TC’s ability to detect, classify, and track all targets of potential interest and marine oil spills.

With the information gathered during its surveillance patrols, the modernized Dash 7 will enhance Canada’s protection of the Arctic’s fragile marine ecosystem by deterring marine polluters while increasing Canada’s maritime domain awareness. Also, the surveillance aircraft patrolling over the waters within the Arctic archipelago will constitute yet another example of Canada exercising its sovereignty over the region.

Recommendation 3:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada consider Goose Bay, Labrador, as a sub-Arctic staging area for the coordination and support of CCG, fisheries, SAR, surveillance and other Arctic activities.

Response: The Government partially supports this recommendation

The major Government asset and facility at Goose Bay is that of the CF air base, 5 Wing Goose Bay. Since the publication of the CFDS, work has been ongoing by DND to define and develop several courses of action to deliver enhanced northern and Arctic capabilities in support of an increased presence and capability in Canada’s North. Given the significant amount of readily available DND/CF infrastructure at 5 Wing Goose Bay, it is logical to consider what role it might play in northern or sub-arctic training, staging and operations. 

The DND/CF facilities at Goose Bay are also being used for other purposes. DND recently invested in resurfacing the runway at Goose Bay. The new runway enhances the marketability of Goose Bay to a wider range of commercial and military aviation and is essential to maintaining this world-class facility. A project has been initiated to upgrade the control tower and the precision approach and landing system. As well, Goose Bay has and will continue to be considered as a venue for foreign military and training and CF training activities, such as the hosting of Canada’s National SAREX in 2007. Furthermore, Goose Bay will continue its role as a 1 Canadian Air Division/North American Aerospace Defence Command Deployed Operating Base.

CCG operates a Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre out of Goose Bay, which provides service for the Labrador coast, as well as the Davis Strait and the east coast of Baffin Island as required, and operates with ten staff on a 24/7, 365 days per year basis.  Program requirements in that area, including SAR, are being met through a variety of CCG vessels operating out of the Newfoundland Regional base. The most recent review of SAR needs in this region showed a 97 percent achievement rate for the CCG’s service requirements.

An analysis of the historical distribution of demand, as well as an assessment of future needs, determines that the greatest number of incidents can be responded to in the least amount of time utilizing the existing CF SAR basing solution. Demonstrating the capability to deliver a CF SAR response to the farthest reaches of our National areas of responsibility, within 11 hours of being notified, assures that incidents in all regions will receive a timely response. Goose Bay remains a valuable base in supporting SAR air operations in the North, as SAR helicopters from Gander and Greenwood will often use it as a refueling point when accessing northern latitudes. CF fixed wing SAR aircraft have speed and range capabilities that allow them to access northern latitudes without refueling in transit.     

DFO also has an office in Goose Bay, which operates year-round to deliver departmental programs in Labrador, including: resource management through fisheries licensing, the development and implementation of fisheries management plans, and the delivery of Aboriginal programs; conservation and protection through enforcement of the Fisheries Act; and, habitat management through the regulation of the development of projects affecting fish and fish habitat. In addition, this office supports the negotiation and implementation of local Aboriginal Land Claims settlements. 

Recommendation 4:

The Committee recommends that the Nunavut Marine Council (NMC) (Part 4, Article 15.4.1 of the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement [NLCA]) be created as a forum for priority setting and planning, and as a practical means to enhance Canada’s sovereignty in marine areas.

Response: The Government partially supports this recommendation

Section 15.4.1 of the NLCA indicates that the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), the Nunavut Water Board (NWB), the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC), and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) may join together to act as a NMC or may separately advise and make recommendations to other government agencies (e.g. the CCG) on the marine areas of the Nunavut Settlement Area.

Since the effective date of the NLCA in 1993, these Boards (NIRB, NWB, NPC and NWMB) have periodically met as the NMC. During the 2008-09 fiscal year, INAC provided incremental funding to these Boards to allow for meetings among their respective Executive Directors to assess the viability, feasibility, and desirability of them convening as a NMC in a more regularized manner.  It was determined at that time that permanently establishing a NMC was unnecessary as it was felt that the continued ad hoc, project/need-driven approach to joining together as a NMC was the appropriate approach. 

In discussing planning and priorities for matters within their mandates, these Boards pass on advice and recommendations to the Government on the marine areas (either individually or as the collective NMC). By working collaboratively with the residents of the North, and by giving due consideration to the advice of the members of NMC, the Government not only demonstrates its commitment to the NLCA, but also enhances Canada’s ability to exercise sovereignty over its Arctic marine areas.

However, it is important to note that there is no land claim obligation for the Government itself to establish a NMC – under the NLCA, the responsibility for determining the need for a NMC lies solely with existing Boards (NIRB, NWB, NPC and NWMB). Canada would support the consideration of any future creation of a formal NMC upon receipt of a recommendation and appropriate justification by the Boards.

Recommendation 5:

The Committee recommends that Canada assume a leadership role in promoting international cooperation on: (a) issues relating to continental shelf claims; and (b) the development of a mandatory common code relating to the construction, manning and equipment of all vessels operating in the Arctic Ocean equal to Canada’s domestic standards.

Response A: The Government supports this recommendation

International cooperation on continental shelf issues is important. Reflecting the stage of Canada's continental shelf submission preparation, efforts so far to promote international cooperation have focused almost exclusively on scientific cooperation in data collection and interpretation. As observed by the Committee, the Arctic is a difficult environment in which to conduct the scientific work necessary to collect the data to support Canada's submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.It has only made sense to work with our Arctic neighbours in carrying out this research as all involved benefit from the sharing of resources, expertise and data. Canada's research activities have been led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through the Geological Survey of Canada and DFO through the CHS.

In the western Arctic, Canada and the US conducted joint surveys in 2008 and 2009 using the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and the USCGC Healy. Since the Louis is equipped with a seismic array and the Healy is equipped with multi-beam sonar, the two ships complement each other by being able to collect different types of data. Having one ship break ice for the other also made it easier for the second ship to collect data. The joint missions were a great success and resulted in a large amount of high quality data. Canada and the US anticipate working together again in 2010 on a third joint survey. In the eastern Arctic, Canada and Denmark have collaborated to carry out bathymetric and gravity surveys, including a jointly run ice camp north of Ward Hunt Island.

Cooperation extends beyond data collection. Canada, Denmark and Russia share an interest in examining Arctic ridges, particularly the Lomonosov Ridge. Two trilateral scientific meetings to review data and exchange views and information were convened in St. Petersburg (November 2007) and Copenhagen (November 2008). Canada will host a third meeting in Halifax in November 2009. Canadian scientists have also participated in scientific conferences with broad international attendance to present joint interpretations from the collaborative surveys and discuss issues with peers.

The Government will continue to promote this direct cooperation on continental shelf delineation through activities and discussions with opposite and adjacent states. More broadly, the Government will continue to engage with other states with regard to the activities of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and issues related to the outer continental shelf.

Response B: The Government supports this recommendation

Canada is working internationally on Arctic shipping issues, with Canada taking a leading role on updating the IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters. The IMO Guidelines provide requirements for ship design, construction, crew qualifications, equipment and operations.
Canada also supports the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) Unified Requirements initiative (hull and machinery). Canada has supported many research and development projects that have underpinned the IACS Harmonized Polar Class Rules.

Together, the IACS Unified Requirements and the IMO Guidelines provide standards for, among other things: ship categories; navigation control systems; design ice loads; navigational equipment; extent of strengthened hull areas; structural strength; material standards; rudders; steering gears; nozzles; ice knives; shell plate requirements; and, ship subdivision/damage stability.

Canada also cooperates with other countries through the International Hydrographic Organization to develop internationally consistent navigation products as required under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and AWPPA, and by leading the development of international standards on data collection, products and dissemination of products around the world.

TC plans to review and amend the Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations (ASPPR), which is a comprehensive package of construction standards and shipping control procedures pursuant to the AWPPA. The intent is to align the ASPPR with the proposed IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters and the IACS Unified Requirements. TC also requires crew onboard ships operating in Arctic waters to comply with Marine Personnel Regulations and section 26 of the ASPPR, which details the qualifications of ice navigators, including the level of experience needed.
Canada’s influence in the AMSA also resulted in a number of recommendations, including those that are intended to enhance Arctic marine safety. For instance, the AMSA recommends that Arctic states work together to:

Recommendation 6:

The Committee recommends that Canada demonstrate its commitment to international co-operation within the Arctic Council by re-establishing the position of Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs (which was eliminated in 2006).

Response: The Government does not support this recommendation

Canada is strongly committed to international cooperation within the Arctic Council.  At their most recent meeting in Norway in April 2009, Arctic Council Ministers endorsed a number of major new initiatives in which Canada played a leadership role. These included the AMSA which complements Canada's actions to protect the Arctic environment and to enhance Arctic marine protection, safety and security. In recent speeches and meetings with his Arctic counterparts, Canada's Foreign Minister has underlined the importance of the Arctic Council and his priorities for strengthening it.

The Government will continue to foster international cooperation within the Arctic Council through various means. With regard to the position of Ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs, these functions have been assumed by a senior public servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). 

Recommendation 7:

The Committee recommends that DND make the Canadian Rangers an integral part of the Canadian reserves and provide them with marine capability.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

The Canadian Rangers are an integral part of the Canadian Reserves and already engage in coastal and inland water surveillance. In May 2008, the Prime Minister announced the CFDS, the Government’s comprehensive plan to ensure the CF have the people, equipment, and support needed to meet Canada’s long-term domestic and international security challenges. The CFDS outlined the importance of the CF domestic responsibilities. Consequently, the CF is committed to improving its ability to operate in remote and sparsely populated coastal regions of Canada in the exercise of Canadian sovereignty. The Canadian Rangers are a highly valued and integral part of the CF’s domestic surveillance and response strategy.

The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Forces Reserves whose mission is to provide lightly equipped, self-sufficient, mobile forces in support of the CF's sovereignty and domestic operation tasks in Canada. As members of the Reserve Force, they are entitled to pay and benefits while conducting training, sovereignty and surveillance patrols, assistance to CF Domestic Operations, such as SAR, response to natural and man-made disasters and maintaining a CF presence in their local communities. The Canadian Rangers conduct these tasks independently or in conjunction with members of the Regular Force and Primary Reserves on an ongoing basis, under the command and control of their applicable Land Force Area or Joint Task Force North. As such, the Canadian Rangers are already an integral component of the CF.

The Canadian Ranger task list includes conducting coastal and inland water surveillance. Many Canadian Ranger Patrol Group's are presently equipped with various types of marine transport to fulfill this task. This capability is supplemented by the Canadian Rangers employing their own marine vessels for which they receive reimbursement via an equipment usage rate. Canadian Rangers will continue to employ watercraft within their assigned role and mission, however there is no intention to assign any tasks to the Canadian Rangers that have a tactical military connotation or that require tactical military training, such as naval boarding. There are also no plans at this time to equip the Canadian Rangers with any additional marine transport capabilities.

To enhance the capability of the Canadian Rangers, the CF is in the process of executing a Canadian Ranger Expansion Plan through a combination of increased recruiting of Canadian Rangers to join existing patrols and the creation of new patrols along our extended coastlines, across the Arctic and in the interior north of 50°. Through this phased plan, it is the intent of the CF to increase the strength of the Canadian Rangers to 5000 members by 2011/2012 (in May 2009, Canadian Ranger strength was approximately 4400). In conjunction with expansion, funding has been increased for the Canadian Rangers to meet their operation and training obligations. This focus includes an examination of increased mobility assets over land and water to ensure the Canadian Rangers are well prepared for domestic operations in support of the CF.    

The Canadian Rangers, some of whom already conduct maritime tasks within the parameters of their assigned role and mission, are a fully integrated and functional entity within the Reserve Force and the CF is fully committed to expanding their capabilities to meet our future domestic response needs.
Recommendation 8:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada establish an Arctic Strategy Advisory Committee, led by INAC, to monitor and to advise in the development and implementation of an effective and integrated strategy for the North. The new Arctic Strategy Advisory Committee should comprise representatives from the federal government departments and agencies with a mandate in the Arctic, with particular emphasis on the CCG, the various Aboriginal/Inuit groups in the region, and the three territorial governments.

Response: The Government does not support this recommendation

Recognizing the need for an integrated approach to the North, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Northern Strategy in August 2007, which was recently reaffirmed by the Northern Strategy policy paper, Canada’s Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, published in July 2009. This Government of Canada priority is a comprehensive and integrated plan, within areas of clear federal jurisdiction, to: exercise Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic; protect the environment; promote economic and social development; and, improve governance. Since its conception, federal departments and agencies have been working cooperatively, under the lead of INAC, to develop and implement the Government’s integrated Northern Strategy. INAC has also been working in collaboration with territorial governments and Aboriginal organizations to ensure that their needs and concerns are considered. 

As part of the government machinery supporting this initiative, an Ad Hoc Deputy Ministers (DMs) Committee on the Arctic was struck and has been meeting regularly to oversee the implementation of the Strategy, and closely monitor its progress. Supporting the Ad Hoc DMs Committee is the Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADM) Coordinating Committee on the Arctic and the ADM Committee on the High Arctic Research Station. This internal organization permits the close coordination of efforts by all involved federal departments and agencies in the development and execution of the Northern Strategy.

However, the Government recognizes that planning and carrying out a Northern Strategy which focuses on the needs of Northerners requires more than federal internal teamwork. Input from the people of the North is essential to the proper shaping and ultimate success of Canada’s efforts. To date, much of that input has come through extensive engagement on particular elements of the broad suite of initiatives that make up the Strategy. For example, there have been wide consultations with Northerners on ways and means to improve the land and resource regulatory regime in the territories. DFO undertook a study with the Government of Nunavut on the feasibility of small craft harbours (SCHs), which resulted in the Government’s decision to construct a harbour in Pangnirtung, Nunavut in order to foster the development of the emerging fishery in that territory. 

In addition to engagement on particular initiatives, federal officials have engaged in broader discussions on the overall Strategy with both federal officials and Aboriginal organizations of the North. One such forum in which these discussions take place is the Nunavut Senior Officials Working Group, which has participation from both the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the organization representing Inuit in Nunavut.

Through ongoing efforts such as those mentioned above, the Government has received, and continues to garner, extensive input from residents of the North on the Northern Strategy as it is further developed and rolled out. Given the success of this approach, the establishment of an Arctic Strategy Advisory Committee would at this time be redundant to those networks and partnership arrangements already in place and working effectively. 

Recommendation 9:

The Committee recommends that Inuit, with their unique knowledge of the region, be recruited for the CCG whenever possible.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

Within the broader human resources challenges currently being faced by the CCG, and despite the past difficulties with the hiring of Inuit for its northern operations, the CCG will continue its efforts to recruit and retain Inuit into its workforce. In particular, the CCG is currently developing strategies to encourage the recruitment of Inuit for Ship Crew positions aboard its vessels. 

The Government recognizes the unique traditional environmental knowledge that Inuit provide in support of many of its Arctic programs. Departments conducting their missions in the Arctic using CCG ship platforms often hire Inuit for their traditional environmental knowledge to provide assistance in protecting wildlife, guiding services, and conducting bear watches for the safety of personnel when working off the ship.

To date, the CCG has made a concerted effort to recruit Inuit, but with limited success. Over the next three years, the CCG’s human resources management and planning will continue to be among its highest priorities, as it works towards addressing significant changes and challenges to its workforce with the substantial departure levels among its most seasoned employees and the crewing of several new vessels. The CCG will address these challenges through its Strategic Human Resources Plan 2009-2012.

In addition, the CCG is aware of the objective set out in Section 23.2.1 of the NLCA to increase Inuit participation in Government of Canada employment in the Nunavut Settlement Area to a representative level. The recruitment of persons from other Aboriginal groups residing in the Arctic region is also important to CCG.   

Recommendation 10:

The Committee recommends that the CCG, as the expert agency on the maritime situation facing Canada in the Arctic, formulate and implement a long-term strategic vision to guide it for the future.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

In recognition of the significant roles that both DFO and the CCG play in the Arctic, the Department recently launched an internal departmental process to develop a long-term, strategic Arctic Vision, which is being championed by the Commissioner of the CCG.  

The purpose of this Arctic Vision will be to help DFO and the CCG advance their mandate in the North by providing: for the development of an integrated, departmental approach to the North; a long term outlook (ten to fifteen years) for the direction of DFO and CCGs northern initiatives and activities and clear direction on the Department’s short, medium, and long-term northern priorities; and, linkages between DFO and the CCG’s domestic activities and international agenda.

The CCG provides many critical maritime programs and plays a key support role in helping DFO and other government departments and agencies realize their long-term northern goals. With many years of operational and program experience in the Arctic, the CCG is well-placed to champion the development of this long-term strategic Arctic Vision. As well, DFO programs are important to Canada’s knowledge and protection of the Arctic region and its environment. This Arctic Vision for DFO and the CCG will provide important future strategic direction for the development of Arctic initiatives and operations. It will also highlight potential linkages with other government departments and agencies’ northern initiatives, and identify areas for collaboration. It is expected that this departmental Arctic Vision will be in place in 2010. 

Recommendation 11:

The Committee recommends that NORDREG, Canada’s current voluntary vessel traffic system in the Arctic, be made compulsory. All foreign ships that enter Canada’s Arctic waters should be required to register with NORDREG, regardless of vessel size.

Response: The Government partially supports this recommendation

The Government of Canada is preparing regulations that will formalize the existing voluntary reporting system in Canada’s northern waters, currently known as Arctic Canada Traffic System (NORDREG) in regulation and implement requirements for vessels to report information. Once established, the Regulations will be known as the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations (NORDREG).  Implementing these regulations will strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) and its ability to promote and facilitate the safe and efficient movement of maritime traffic in Canada’s northern waters and protect the unique and fragile Arctic marine environment. It is anticipated that these regulations will come into force in 2010.

It is expected that the following prescribed classes of vessels will be subject to the regulated reporting requirements: (a) vessels of 300 gross tons or more; (b) vessels that are engaged in towing or pushing a vessel if the combined gross tonnage of the vessel and the vessel being towed or pushed is 500 gross tons or more; and (c) vessels carrying as cargo a pollutant or dangerous goods, or engaged in towing or pushing a vessel carrying as cargo a pollutant or dangerous goods. 

The application of NORDREG to these specific vessels takes into account the current application of NORDREG and the application of the mandatory reporting requirements on the east and west coasts of Canada. Smaller vessels were considered but are not being proposed for inclusion at this time. The proposed application is directed at those vessels that pose the greatest risk to the marine environment (i.e. those able to carry more fuel oil, pollutants, and larger amounts of cargoes, including dangerous goods). These regulations will apply equally to the prescribed classes of vessels regardless of being foreign or Canadian vessels, and whether entering the VTS zone from seaward or operating entirely within the zone.

Recommendation 12:

The Committee recommends that the federal government amend the definition of Arctic waters in the AWPPA to include the waters beyond the Arctic archipelago to the 200-nautical-mile EEZ, which is the case with other Canadian legislation, such as the Oceans Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

On August 27, 2008, the Government announced its intention to expand the coverage of Arctic shipping laws and regulations in support of the Government’s integrated Northern Strategy. This coverage will give Canada greater and more effective control over marine activity in the Canadian Arctic while protecting air and water quality in Canada’s North.

On January 28, 2009, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities introduced legislation (Bill C-3) in the House of Commons to extend the application of the AWPPA by amending the definition of “Arctic waters” from 100 to 200 nautical miles, to help ensure that ships do not pollute Canadian waters. On June 11, 2009, the amendment to the Act received Royal Assent. The amendment came into force on August 1, 2009.

Recommendation 13:

The Committee recommends that Canada develop a long-term plan for the acquisition of new multi-purpose heavy icebreakers made in Canada and capable of operating year-round in its Arctic Archipelago and on the continental shelf as part of an integrated approach to vessel procurement recognizing the complementarity of CCG and naval vessels.

Response: The Government partially supports this recommendation

While the Government supports the need for long-term vessel planning, it is currently not feasible for CCG vessels to operate in the Arctic year-round due to annual mandatory operational maintenance and other essential requirements, nor operationally necessary, due to the current lack of demand for CCG programs and services in the Arctic over the winter months.   

However, the Government is committed to building and maintain an effective federal fleet of ships for maritime security and services. Since 2005, the Government has invested $1.4 billion in the CCG Fleet. In addition, the CF plan to acquire up to eight AOPS, whose operations will commence between 2015 and 2020. These ships will be capable of operating in first-year ice in Canada’s northern waters during the navigable season, including in the “Northwest Passage”, and will patrol Canada’s EEZ off all three coasts. All ships are expected to be completed and delivered by 2020. 

The CCG has established a long-term Fleet Renewal Plan to acquire new, multi-purpose icebreakers made in Canada, including the acquisition of multi-purpose Polar icebreakers, with acquisitions prioritized based on available funding. The Plan, which is reviewed every five years to reflect changing circumstances and evolving government priorities, is currently being updated.

At present, the CCG has two heavy icebreakers, four medium icebreakers (one of which is dedicated to science) and several other multi-taskable ice-capable vessels that can be assigned seasonally to Arctic ice operations. Additionally, the CCG has three smaller vessels in the Arctic which are not ice-capable: two supporting aids to navigation on the Mackenzie River; and, one supporting science in the Western and Central Arctic.

The existing icebreaker fleet, with the exception of the heavy icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, which is reaching the end of its operational life, is sufficient to meet program needs until 2020. Budget 2008 provided $720 million in capital funding and $25 million in annual operating funding for the acquisition of a new Canadian-built multi-purpose Polar icebreaker, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, to replace the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. This new icebreaker will provide further capacity to the CCG by providing for increased coverage in Canadian Arctic and adjacent waters (nine months instead of the current five months) over a larger geographical area. This new vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2017.    

The operating profile of this new icebreaker will be based on requirements derived from expert advice, including anticipated future Arctic conditions, the multitude of program demands that are projected to be placed on that vessel in the coming years, and the necessary time required to regularly maintain vessels of this complexity. Once operational, it will be a large multi-purpose icebreaker, capable of autonomous and independent operations in the Arctic from May through January, and if necessary for extraordinary purposes, it would be able to safely over-winter in the Arctic. The CCG’s medium icebreakers are due to be replaced around 2025. The CCG plans to replace the remaining icebreakers in a phased approach.

Recommendation 14:

The Committee recommends the deployment of multi-mission polar icebreakers operated by the CCG as a cost-effective solution to Canada’s surveillance and sovereignty patrol needs in the Arctic.

Response: The Government supports this recommendation

The CCG’s approach to fleet operations is to ensure that all vessels are multi-tasked as the most efficient and effective means of maintaining assets, delivering on mandated programs, and providing support to other government departments and agencies. The CCG’s Fleet Renewal Plan specifies that all vessels must be designed to be multi-task capable, and this approach has been endorsed by the Government as the most efficient and effective means to operate the CCG fleet. 

In Budget 2008, the CCG received $720 million (accrual basis) and $25 million annual operating funding for the acquisition of a new Canadian-build multi-purpose Polar icebreaker, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, to replace the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, which is scheduled for delivery in 2017. The Mission Profile for this new vessel specifies that this icebreaker will contribute to Canadian Arctic sovereignty requirements by: maintaining a visible presence through community visits (often associated with the delivery of medical care); providing icebreaking, logistical and platform support to other government departments (notably DND and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP]); providing platform support to science activities; and, escorting foreign and domestic vessels through Canadian waters. Specific details for how the icebreaker will support maritime security, national defence, or policy enforcement activities in the Arctic will be determined through future discussions with DND, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and DFAIT.

While not an enforcement agency, the CCG is the only agency capable of providing on-water platform support to departments and agencies charged in challenging ice conditions. For example, DND will require support from the CCG to effectively extend both the AOPS operational reach into areas of heavier ice concentration and operational season into the early Summer/late Fall. By virtue of its presence, the CCG will also face an increased expectation to be the “eyes on the water” and collector and disseminator of maritime domain awareness.

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