Canada. Transport Canada: The Department of Transport was established on 2 November 1936 by the Department of Transport Act, (Chapter 34, 1 Edward VIII). The first Minister of this newly created Department was C. D. Howe. This Act provided for the merging of the former Departments of Marine and of Railways and Canals and also for the transfer of the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence to the resulting Department of Transport. The Department of Marine had existed since 1868, and the Department of Railways and Canals since 1879. The Department of National Defence Civil Aviation Branch was established in 1923. The major exception to this merger was the Hydrographic Survey Branch of the Department of Marine which was transferred to the Department of Mines and Resources. The Department's fundamental role is to attend to the development and operation of a safe and efficient national transportation system through capital assistance and administrative programs in air, marine, and surface transportation, the development of policy, and the regulation of the statutory requirements of federal legislation related to transportation.
The Department of Transport, as originally formed, was organized into five major sections: (1) administrative, (2) air services, (3) canal services, (4) marine services, and (5) railways and steamships. The Administrative Branch was subdivided into the Law Branch, Records Branch, Real Estate Branch and Engineering Branch, Government Employees compensation Branch, and the Canadian Travel Bureau. The Canadian Travel Bureau remained with the Department until 1941 when it was moved to the Department of National War Services and after the Second World War, was moved to various Departments until finally settling in the Canadian Government Office of Tourism in 1972.
The Air Services Branch originally consisted of the Civilian Aviation Division, the Radio Division, and the Meteorological Division. The Civilian Aviation Division was responsible for the administration of the Air Regulations, the location, equipment and maintenance of airways and civil government aerodromes, and the oversight of flying clubs. It was originally organized into the air regulations division, the airways and airports division and administrative services.
The Canal Services Branch was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the canal systems in Canada. The Marine Services Branch included the Aids to Navigation Branch, the Pilotage Service Branch, the Nautical Services Branch, Marine Agencies Branch, Board of Steamship Inspection Branch and St. Lawrence River Ship Channel Branch. The Aids to Navigation Branch was in charge of the construction, repairs and maintenance of all light-houses, fog alarms, light-ships, buoys, beacons, and other aids to navigation. The Pilotage Services Branch supervised the activities of pilots at all Canadian ports. The Nautical Services Branch was responsible for port wardens and cargo surveys, masters and seamen's examinations, wreck investigations and shipping registers. The Board of Steamship Inspection Branch inspected and certified steamships and examined Marine engineers. The St. Lawrence River Ship channel Branch monitored the navigation and shipping in the St. Lawrence from Montreal to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.
The outbreak of the Second World War increased the responsibilities for the Department. An aeronautical Engineering Section was added to the Civil Aviation Division with responsibility for site selection and construction of airfields used for military training and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In addition, the Merchant Seaman Branch and Office of the Transport Controller were added to the Department to aid in the overall wartime transportation effort.
1960 witnessed a major reorganization of the Department which remained in place to the mid 1980s. The main operational services ( Marine Services, Air Services, Railway and Surface Services) were retained, each under an Assistant Deputy Minister and were sub-divided. The Marine Services Division contained the Marine Regulations Branch, the Marine Operations Branch, the Shipbuilding Branch, and the Marine Works Branch. By the 1980s, the ship building branch was eliminated. Air Services Division consisted of the Civil Aviation Branch, a Construction Branch, a Telecommunications and Electronics Branch, and a Meteorological Branch. These branches are responsible for aircraft accident investigations, air traffic control regulations, airport and property management, radio regulations, research and training.
Throughout 1985 major organizational changes took place. The department established two distinct organizations to emphasize air safety and to streamline management of airports. The Aviation Group and the Airports Authority Group replaced the former Canadian Air Transportation Administration. In other restructuring within the department, the personnel, finance, planning and policy functions were centralized into the Policy and Co-ordination Group. Operational responsibility for marine and surface modes were consolidated into the new Marine and Surface Groups.
The National Transportation Act (N20-01, Eliz. II, c. 34) of 1987 deemed the Department responsible to review the operations of new legislation, including effects on prices and levels of service provided to users, changes in structure and performance of the carrier industries, and specific aspects of rail operations (such as competitive line rates and abandonments). The 1987 Act witnessed the trend towards greater accountability by the Department and a gradual shift towards downsizing of both staff and duties, and the commercialization of services. The commercialization resulted in the full privatization of Air Canada and CN Rail, the leasing of major national airports to local operating authorities, and the reduction of subsidies to federal operators and private carriers. Also this year, the Motor Vehicle Transport Act was introduced and dealt primarily with the regulation of truck transportation. Both Acts were proclaimed on 1 January, 1988. A final reorganization closed out the decade with the creation of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. It was an independent tribunal responsible for transportation safety and air transport, and mandated to advance transportation safety.
The 1990s witnessed Transport Canada gaining increased responsibility in the area of air traffic and safety. On February 24, 1995, Canada and the United States signed the Open Skies Agreement which gave Canadian carriers the right to establish routes from any point in Canada to any point in the U.S., and American airlines the right to do the same in Canada. Transport Canada is responsible for many provisions under this agreement. Furthermore, the Canada Transportation Act received royal assent in June 1996, and officially became law on 1 July, 1996. The spirit of the Act fostered reliance on commercial forces and encouraged shippers and carriers to seek commercial solutions to business issues. This Act symbolized the government wide trend to reduce the size of its institutions. This Act, in addition to the Canada Marine Act, introduced in June 1996, consolidated and modernized the marine regulatory branches. As part of this overhaul, the Canadian Coast Guard was transferred from the Department of Transport and was merged with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on 1 April 1995. The Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act ( which received royal assent 20 June 1996) eliminated restrictions on the entry of new air carriers in the North and forced new carriers to prove fiscal viability upon entering the market. With the repeal of the Western Grain Transportation Act (WGTA) in 1995, the Grain Transportation Agency was eliminated, as were the functions that directly related to the WGTA. The continual evolution of Transport Canada resulted in the regionalisation of many responsibilities and offices. Headquartered in Ottawa, Transport Canada has regional offices across the country.