2007-2008 in Review

Activities

The present annual report covers the 12 months between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008. In the 12-month reporting period, the Tribunal registered 141 new requests for review and 9 requests for appeal from the transportation community. This represents an increase of 46 new case files registered over fiscal year 2006-2007. Additionally, 39 certificates were issued to the Minister, pursuant to section 7.92 of the Aeronautics Act.

In addition to the new cases registered in this reporting period, 108 cases were carried over from the previous reporting period, bringing the total caseload to 258. This represents an increase of 47 cases over 2006-2007.

The Tribunal heard 29 first level reviews and 8 second level appeals for a total of 40 hearing days. This represents a decrease of 2 hearings over the previous fiscal year. Of the 37 cases that proceeded to a hearing, many cases were postponed and rescheduled at a later date. At the end of 2007-2008, 81 cases were pending further action, 5 were awaiting decisions and 10 had been scheduled for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

In the 2007-2008 reporting period, 125 cases were concluded without a hearing. It should be noted that of these 125 cases many were requests filed with the Tribunal and concluded shortly before the hearing was to take place, which means that all registry work that leads up to the hearing was completed. The registry prepared for 53 hearings. In many cases an agreement was reached between the parties. In other cases, Transport Canada or the document holder withdrew their application.

The 125 cases concluded without a hearing were resolved in a number of ways:

  • the document holder paid the fine before the hearing;
  • the document holder's licence was reinstated before the hearing;
  • the request for hearing was withdrawn by the document holder;
  • the notice was withdrawn by the Minister;
  • an agreement was reached between the parties.

Effectiveness

The program's effectiveness can be measured by its ability to provide the transportation community with the opportunity to have ministerial decisions reviewed fairly, equitably and within a reasonable period of time.

The average lapsed time between the conclusion of a review hearing and the issuance of a determination is 91 days and 88 days for an appeal. This brings the hearing process to a timely conclusion for both parties appearing before the Tribunal.

The Tribunal encourages the use of pre-hearing conferences to assist the parties appearing before it, to identify the issues for determination by the Tribunal and to disclose and exchange documents. This reduces the length of hearings and avoids last-minute adjournments necessitated by late disclosure.

Such conferences have also been particularly effective in settling licence suspensions and refusal to renew on medical grounds without the necessity of a hearing. The Tribunal registrars contact the parties to schedule mutually agreed hearing dates to the extent possible to avoid unnecessary adjournments.

In 2006-2007, the Tribunal referred 5 cases back to the Minister of Transport for reconsideration, pursuant to sections 6.72 and 7.1 of the Aeronautics Act, the Tribunal lacking the power to substitute its own decision for that of the Minister in these cases. The Minister confirmed its original decision in 2 cases, and upheld the review determination in 3 cases.

In 2007-2008, the Tribunal referred 6 cases back to the Minister. The Minister confirmed its original decision in 1 case, and we are awaiting the outcome in the 5 remaining cases.

Training and Development

The Tribunal for the 12th year supervised a student of the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, for the Federal Tribunals Practice Seminar. The student prepared a research paper on notices of cancellation of Canadian aviation documents in the public interest.

The quality of the hearings which are held across the country and the decisions which are rendered are reflective of the high level of training provided to all Tribunal members. A number of training sessions were held over the past year for appointees to the aviation sector, our first marine appointee and our recently appointed Vice-Chairperson.

Annual Seminar

The Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada's fourth annual seminar was held in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 25, 26 and 27, 2007 at the Château Laurier Hotel. The seminar was held over the course of three days to exchange ideas, information and to take part in a mock hearing.

The Tribunal Chairperson, Faye Smith, welcomed new members to the Tribunal and presented updates on administrative law as well as an overview of the year in review. She led a discussion group on running a fair hearing, pre-hearing conferences and the principles of natural justice. Presentations were given on immunity of tribunal members, expert evidence and decision writing.

The membership was pleased to welcome the industry panel comprised of Mr. Rich Gage, from the Canadian Business Aircraft Association, Mr. John McKenna, from l'Association québécoise du transport aérien, Captain Rick Rapagna from the Airline Pilots Association, Captain Andy Wilson from the Air Canada Pilots Association, Mr. Adam Hunt from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, as well as Transport Canada guests: Mr. Franz Reinhardt, Director, Policy and Regulatory Services, Ms. Beverlie Caminsky, Chief, Advisory and Appeals, and Mr. Michel Béland, Chief, Compliance and Inspection Programs.

Long Service Award Ceremony

In January 2008, the Tribunal held a Long Service Award Ceremony for the following recipients:

  • 25 years of service – Françoise Bodart, Mary Cannon, Jeanne Caron,
    Monique Godmaire, Suzanne Lagacé
  • 15 years of service – Danielle Lavergne, Thérèse Martine, Carl Poulin

Future Plans

Our anticipated future plans of the past few years have come to fruition. Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, currently at third reading stage, proposes increased monetary penalties for contraventions of designated provisions. As reported last year, the passage of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act provides the federal government with the legislative authority to ensure effective oversight of the existing 24 international vehicular bridges and tunnels and 9 international railway bridges and tunnels, as well as any new international bridges or tunnels built in the future. Regulations enabling commencement of cases before the Tribunal under the Marine  Transportation Security Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 are now in force and the Tribunal is keeping a watching brief on its expanding mandate.

Resources

Figure 2: Financial Resources

Details of Financial Requirements by Object

(Thousands of dollars)

Budget
2007-2008

Actual Expenses
2007-2008

Estimates
2006-2007

Personnel

     

Salaries and Wages

688.0

687.8

682.0

Contributions to employee benefit plans

126.0

111.9

129.0

Total Personnel

814.0

799.7

811.0

Goods and services

     

Transportation and communications

163.8

158.4

143.0

Information and printing services

30.7

27.2

25.0

Professional and special services

521.3

483.6

341.6

Rentals

14.5

12.9

25.0

Purchased repairs and upkeep

0.0

0.0

15.0

Utilities, materials and supplies

52.9

41.2

33.0

Total Goods and Services

783.2

723.3

582.6

Totals

1,597.2

1,523.0

1,393.6

Figure 3 : Distribution of Full-time Equivalents

 

FTE's*

Governor in Council (GIC)

2

Administrative Services (AS)

5

Clerical and Regulatory (CR)

1

Information Services (IS)

2

Secretarial (SCY)

1

Social Science (SI)

1

Total

12

* FTE's: Full-time equivalent is a measure of human resource consumption.

* Funding for $199 250 was requested from Transport Canada to hire additional employees and to provide training sessions for newly appointed part-time members.