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Proposed Amendments to the Pilotage Act

The Pilotage Act is the governing legislative framework for all pilotage services in Canada. Established in 1972, the Act divides the waterways of Canada into 4 distinct areas governed by their respective bodies: the Pacific Pilotage Authority, the Laurentian Pilotage Authority, the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority and the Atlantic Pilotage Authority. It is the 1st authority in this list that overseas the movement of commercial vessels within the inland waters of the West Coast of Canada. The Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA) contracts out their work to the British Columbia Coast Pilots who are responsible for manning each vessel within the designated pilotage area with a fully qualified pilot. This type of service contract is standard across all 4 pilotage authorities as regulated within the Pilotage Act: “(2) Where a majority of licensed pilots within the region, or any part thereof, set out in respect of an Authority in the schedule who form or are members or shareholders of a body corporate elect not to become employees of the Authority, the Authority may contract with that body corporate for the services of licensed pilots and the training of apprentice pilots in the region or part thereof where the contract is to be effective, and the Authority shall not employ pilots or apprentice pilots in the region or that part thereof where such a contract is in effect.”  These service contracts extend to the areas of the attached map along British Columbia which are known as mandatory pilot zones. There are currently 4 pilot boarding areas where a dispatched pilot will embark/disembark in order for the vessel to enter or depart Canada –

Brotchie Ledge 48° – 22′ – 30″ NORTH 123 – 23′- 30” WEST

Cape Beale 48° – 47′ – 12″ NORTH 125° – 12′- 48″ WEST

Triple Island 54° – 17′ – 36″ NORTH 130° – 52′- 40″ WEST

Pine Island 50° – 58′ – 00″ NORTH 127° – 46′- 00″ WEST

The Pilotage Act is no stranger to reviews and amendments, including a 2016 report that concluded the main deficiencies with the current system relate to “five key components of the legislation: its purpose and principles, governance model, labour structure, safety framework, and tariff-setting process.” In our opinion, more needs to be done to increase the transparency between the BCCP and PPA, as the BCCP is a service contractor to a Federally mandated authority.

On April 6, 2019 a second reading of Bill C-97 (Budget Implementation Act, 2019) was tabled in the Government of Canada Parliament. Although the amendments have yet to be confirmed and enacted, this Bill represents the largest proposed change to the Pilotage Act, 2001 since revisions made in 1998. Within the proposal contains several key amendments which have been recommended in order to keep with the purpose and principles of the Act –

(a) that pilotage services be provided in a manner that promotes and contributes to the safety of navigation, including the safety of the public and marine personnel, and that protects human health, property and the environment;

(b) that pilotage services be provided in an efficient and cost-effective manner;

(c) that risk management tools be used effectively and that evolving technologies be taken into consideration; and

(d) that an Authority’s pilotage charges be set at levels that allow the Authority to be financially self-sufficient.”

Additionally, improvements regarding the “transparency of all contracts (clause 231) and the improvement of the tariff setting process (238)” are among the most important of proposals in the amendment. (COS Weekly Newsletter, 2019).