All posts tagged SMS

A Tale of Two Committees

This piece was first published, in edited form, in the Hill Times on July 3, 2014.

When Dickens wrote the opening to A Tale of Two Cities, set over two hundred years ago, he described an age of contrasts – wisdom and foolishness, belief and skepticism, hope and despair. He also wryly observed that this could be said of any era. It certainly seemed true to whistleblowing advocates attending two sets of recent Parliamentary committee hearings.

The committees in question were the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (or OGGO, as it’s commonly known) and the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (or TRAN). In both cases, the committees had serious, deeply embedded problems to tackle: whistleblower protection on one hand, and aviation safety on the other.

For its part, OGGO set its sights on reviewing the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act in early February. This is the law which is supposed to protect federal government whistleblowers, but which has been spectacularly ineffective at doing so for 10 years. Without going into details – David Hutton and Allan Cutler have dealt with the issues thoroughly in previous editions of the Hill Times – it would be no exaggeration to say that the law intended to protect whistleblowers is little known and even less trusted by the rank-and-file public service.… Read the rest

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

For a couple of years, Canadians for Accountability has been raising the issue of problems surrounding Safety Management System or SMS.  SMS is a “voluntary”, although the government will say “mandated”, reporting system for the safety of certain forms of transportation in Canada.  In essence it allows rail and air operators to do their own safety checking procedures and send the paper work to Transport Canada (TC).  The inspectors at TC make sure that all the boxes are filled in correctly, not that the inspection was done correctly!

The government will not admit it but the reason behind SMS was to allow TC to cut their budgets for inspections and inspectors.  We average, belive it or not, about one rail incident PER DAY in Canada.  Most of them are related to issues that should be part of safety inspections.  Airlines fair better under SMS than rail carriers because they have very large maintenance crews, but SMS is being extended to small carriers and bush fleets who do not have a culture of self examination (air minutes mean profit…. downtime means loss).

Now the government has decided to cut the inspection budget of TC again.  See: <http://globalnews.ca/news/1916438/funding-slashed-for-all-safety-programs-at-transport-canada>.

Our work is never done.  … Read the rest