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Archived - Motor Vehicle Safety Act

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Amendments to the Act

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), which was last significantly revised in 1993, regulates the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles as well as new tires and equipment used to restrain children and disabled persons inside the vehicle.

The proposed amendments will support the objectives of the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to better and more rapidly align Canadian and U.S. regulations and boost North American trade and competitiveness. These amendments fall into four categories; rulemaking, importation, safety (compliance and enforcement) and information gathering.

Modified regulation-making provisions will facilitate more efficient ongoing alignment with U.S. safety standards, in those instances where the Government of Canada determines that it is appropriate. Some of the key amendments proposed by the Government of Canada include expanding the ability to incorporate, by reference, documents – in whole or in part – that have been created by foreign governments and other standard-making organizations. These changes will allow Canada’s motor vehicle safety regime to keep pace with emerging technologies and include: expanding incorporation by reference powers to include direct ambulatory incorporation by reference; incorporating technical standards developed by a broader range of organizations; removing the current five-year expiration clause for regulations incorporating technical standards documents; including the concept of indirect/secondary reduction of risk of harm as a purpose for which standards can be created, and removing the requirement for mandatory Canada Gazette, Part I pre-publication.

Changes to the importation provisions will allow the importation of vehicles and equipment where it is deemed that the U.S. safety standard achieves the safety outcome required in Canada and removes other importation irritants. This will reduce impediments for Canadians and businesses, while continuing to protect public safety. These changes include: adding the ability, in certain cases, for a vehicle to be donated, as an acceptable alternative to destroying or exporting it; allowing government to have different prescribed requirements, if warranted, for vehicles sold at the retail level in the U.S. or for prescribed vehicles from Mexico, if there are minor safety variations from the Canadian regime; providing for the importation of vehicles intended to be disassembled for parts and removing the need for a vehicle transiting through Canada to be accompanied by a person.

Changes to the compliance and enforcement provisions will more closely align the Canadian and U.S. regimes, while continuing to protect and serve Canadians. This will ensure vehicle safety for Canadians, in a manner that recognizes the integrated nature of the North American auto market, public expectations of similar safety oversight regimes, and reduces industry compliance burdens, where appropriate. These changes include: recognizing the difference between a “defect” and a “non-compliance”; providing the Minister with the authority to order a company to issue a Notice of Defect updating how and when recall information is provided to stakeholders, increasing penalties to address the effect of inflation over two decades and exempting inspectors from being required to testify in civil suits.

Improving the ability of Transport Canada to obtain and distribute information related to vehicle safety will help keep Canadians informed of issues related to vehicle safety and enable the government to make better-informed policy and regulatory decisions. These changes include: improving the ability to gather data and conduct collision examinations and allowing the Minister to disclose information where such disclosure is in the interest of safety.

Other minor housekeeping changes have been included in the proposed bill that do not appear in this overview.

March 2014

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