Pilotage Act Review


The Government of Canada is reviewing the Pilotage Act to update the legislative and regulatory framework for the delivery of pilotage services into the future.

The Review will focus on a number of topics, drawn from the advice provided by stakeholders. A variety of areas will be considered, including (but not limited to) tariffs, service delivery, governance, and dispute resolution. The Review will also look at the pilotage recommendations from the Canada Transportation Act review that was tabled in 2016. These topics, among others, will inform the modernization of the Pilotage Act while preserving current elements that have led to a safety record of over 99% of trips without incident.

The Review will be chaired by Mr. Marc Grégoire, who is a former Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and former Assistant Deputy Minister of Safety and Security at Transport Canada. Under Mr. Grégoire’s leadership, the Review will focus on topics such as tariffs, service delivery, governance, and dispute resolution. Consultations and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders and the public will inform each stage of the Review.

What is Marine Pilotage?

Marine pilotage is a service where marine pilots take control of a vessel and navigate it through our ports, straits, lakes, rivers and other waterways. In Canada, once a vessel enters a compulsory pilotage area, under law, the vessel is obligated to have a Canadian pilot to guide its transit through the area. These pilots are experts in their field and use their seafaring experience and superior local waterways knowledge to ensure vessels travel safely to and from their destinations.

The Pilotage Act

In Canada, the Pilotage Act was enacted in 1972 and provides the legislative framework for the provision of marine pilotage services. This Act created four Pilotage Authorities to operate and maintain safe and efficient pilotage services. These Authorities are Crown Corporations that operate at ‘arm’s length’ from the Government of Canada.

Pilotage Authorities in Canada

Canada’s four Pilotage Authorities are governed by Board of Directors, each composed of a Chairperson and a maximum of six other Board members. Each Board of Directors generally includes members who have been pilots, worked in the shipping industry, or have other skills and business experience related to the marine industry.

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority provides pilotage services for waters surrounding:

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Prince Edward Island

The Laurentian Pilotage Authority provides pilotage services for vessels transiting in the:

  • St. Lawrence River
  • Saguenay River

The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority provides pilotage services for the:

  • Great Lakes
  • Port of Churchill

The Pacific Pilotage Authority provides pilotage services for the:

  • Coastal waters of British Columbia
  • Fraser River

Under the Pilotage Act, the Authorities can hire pilots as employees or enter into a contract with a pilot corporation to provide pilotage services. By ensuring the safe transit of vessels, marine pilots make a valuable contribution to the economy and help to safeguard the environment.

Responsibilities of Pilotage Authorities

Canada’s Pilotage Authorities are responsible for making regulations related to a number of subjects including, but not limited to, designating compulsory pilotage areas, vessels subject to compulsory pilotage, training and licensing pilots and prescribing tariffs that are fair and reasonable.

As the Pilotage Authorities do not receive any funding from the Government to support their operations, they must impose tariffs that can cover all of their business expenses such as pilot salaries, infrastructure needs and training costs. These tariffs are set in regulation, so there are opportunities for the public to file objections with the Canada Transportation Agency or to share concerns once the proposed rates are published in the Canada Gazette. This process provides an important function to ensure that the tariffs are compliant with the fairness requirements set out in the Pilotage Act.

Oceans Protection Plan

The review of the Pilotage Act is part of the Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, a national strategy to create a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines for future generations. The Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made in Canada’s coasts and waterways. The Oceans Protection Plan will involve new measures to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, protect Canada’s marine environment, and offer new possibilities for Indigenous and coastal communities.

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