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
Posted by BruceR on October 17, 2015
Several weeks ago I published a piece on the Hill Times website commenting on the failure of the federal government’s ethics program. It could be interpreted as suggesting that the phrase “public service ethics” is an oxymoron.
It isn’t, of course. There are many in government today who are highly ethical, who come to work every day with the best of intentions. Most do meaningful work for the benefit of Canadians, stoically enduring the scorn of a public all too ready to accept the notion that public servants are lazy and overpaid. Reports by right-leaning think tanks aside, public servants generally clock long hours and get paid at a level appropriate to their education (which is generally higher than average). Job security is also a thing of the past.
Even the most ethical people must find a way to get by in the institutions in which they work, however. Institutions are powerful, and if its values are different than the ones an employee holds, the employee must frequently accommodate his or her values to that of the institution. What many people develop is two sets of ethics – one for work and one for their personal lives. As long as work reflects the ethics of broader society, there is nothing wrong with this.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on February 3, 2014
In case you’re not Canadian or haven’t seen any news at all this week, the Auditor General released a report in which he blasts the Department of National Defence and Transport Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency also received criticism, but not quite as blistering.
Andrew Coyne has some spot-on comments about the government’s obviously conscious attempt to deceive Parliament and Canadians about the costs of the F-35, so I won’t repeat what he’s said – just go to the link below. Remember that he’s a right-leaning journalist, too, so if he’s damning, well, it’s got to be bad. (I have great respect for his work and commentary, by the way.)
I would simply add that while I believe that the Tories are complicit in this cover-up (and let’s be honest – how different would the Chrétien Liberals have been?) it’s the role of bureaucrats that I have greatest concern about. These people are supposed to be sober, neutral and honest. If anyone is going to take the big risks, it’s supposed to be the politicians.
But clearly they’re not. Clearly, that role of the bureaucracy has been undermined. And I don’t think that it’s just the fault of the Conservatives (and the Liberals before them).… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on April 6, 2012