SIU Letter to Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau: Violations of the Marine Personnel Regulations by CTMA

December 9, 2019


December 6, 2019

The Honourable Marc Garneau

Minister of Transport

330 Sparks Street

Ottawa, ON KIA ONS


Re:      Violations of the Marine Personnel Regulations by the Cooperative de transport maritime et aerien (CTMA)

Dear Minister:

I write on behalf of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (“SIU”) to request that you take action concerning certain violations, as detailed below, of the Marine Personnel Regulations, SOR/2007-115 (the “Regulations”) that appear to have been committed by the Cooperative de transport maritime et aerien (“CTMA”).

The SIU represents the majority of unlicensed seafarers working aboard unlicensed vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, the East Coast, and the West Coast. Since 1972, the SIU has been the certified bargaining representative of the unlicensed employees employed on vessels operated by the CTMA.

The principal activity of the CTMA is the transportation of persons and goods between the Magdalen Islands and other parts of Quebec and Canada. The CTMA operates a fleet of passenger and cargo vessels, including the Madeleine, a passenger ferry, and the Clipper Ranger, a cargo vessel.

By way of background, since September 2019, the CTMA has employed seven temporary foreign workers (“TFWs”) from the Mauritius Islands on its vessels. Their employment is in violation of the SIU-CTMA Collective Agreements, and the SIU has accordingly filed a grievance. The SIU has also sought judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada of the decision to issue work permits to allow the TFWs to work in Canada.

In addition to immigration and labour related concerns, the SIU is also concerned that the TWFs being employed by CTMA on its vessels do not appear to possess the relevant certifications that are required under the Regulations in connection with duties that they are or have performed.

The SIU is aware of two instances of specific concern:

  • the CTMA employed five TFWs on the Madeleine with passenger safety related duties who did not possess Passenger Safety Management certifications or endorsements; and
  • the CTMA employed on TFW on the Clipper Ranger as an Oiler, as part of a minimum manning complement, who did not possess an Engine-room Rating certification.

These instances are discussed in greater detail below.

Seafarers Employed on the Madeleine Without Required Passenger Safety Management Certificate

Section 229 of the Regulations provides that, in the case of a roll on-roll off vessel that carries more than 12 passengers and that is more than 500 gross tonnage, and that is engaged in a voyage other than a sheltered waters voyage, crew members who are engaged in any of the following tasks must hold a Passenger Safety Management certificate or endorsement:

  • loading, discharging or securing cargo;
  • closing hull openings;
  • ensuring or assisting passenger safety in emergency situations;
  • assisting in embarking or disembarking passengers; and,
  • providing direct service to passengers in passenger

The Madeleine is a roll on-roll off ferry that carries up to 755 passengers and that has a gross tonnage of 9700 t. 1 The vessel regularly travels between the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island, which is a near coastal voyage, Class 2. Thus, the requirements of section 229 of the Regulations clearly apply to the crew of the Madeleine.

The SIU has obtained a muster list for the Madeleine, dated October 24, 2019, a copy of which is enclosed hereto. This document shows that five TFWs (xxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx, and xxxxxxxxx) were assigned to the Madeleine as members of the “Equipage Securite” (Security Team). The document also indicates that during an emergency, these individuals would be assigned to the task of”aide aux passagers” (assisting passengers). Therefore, pursuant to section 229 of the Regulations, these individuals are obligated to hold a Passenger Safety Management certificate or endorsement.

Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents may hold a certificate of competency2, including a Passenger Safety Management certificate.3 An “endorsement” may only be issued “in relation to a certificate of competency that the Minister has issued”4, and thus is also only available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Since the TFWs are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, they could not have possibly held a valid certificate or endorsement in Passenger Safety Management, as required by the Regulations.

We understand that Transport Canada personnel inspected the Madeleine on October 25, 2019, determined that it was contrary for the Regulations for the TFWs to be working in a passenger­ supporting capacity, and ordered the Madeleine to re-assign the TFWs. However, other than this, Transport Canada personnel took no further action.

Section 246 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 provides that every person or vessel that contravenes a provision of the Regulations commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $100,000. The SIU respectfully submits that Transport Canada should charge the CTMA with five offences for deliberately employing five TFWs on the Madeleine without possessing a Passenger Safety Management certificate or endorsement, as required by the Regulations.

Seafarer Employed on the Clipper Ranger Without Engine-Room Rating Certificate

Section 224 of the Regulations provides that if a vessel that has a propulsive power of more than 750 kW, the vessel’s engine room must be continuously manned (“watched”) by two persons: one engineer and one person holding (at least) an Engine-room Rating certificate. The Clipper Ranger’s engines have a propulsive power that is significantly greater than 750 kW.5

The SIU has obtained a crew list for the Clipper Ranger, dated October 15, 2019, a copy of which is enclosed hereto. This document shows that a TFW, xxxxxxxx, was assigned as one of three Oilers on the Clipper Ranger, along with three engineers. Since a seafarer cannot stand a watch for twelve hours a day, seven days a week (at least, without violating the Canada Labour Code6 and the SIU-CTMA Collective Agreement), the task of serving as the ratings watch-stander must have been divided equally among the three Oilers. And since xxxxxxxx, not being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, could not have obtained a certificate of competency, it follows that the employment of xxxxxxxxx as one of three Oilers on the Clipper Ranger contravened the Regulations.

We understand that the CTMA has since increased the number of Oilers employed on the Clipper Ranger from three to four, with xxxxxxxx now serving as an “extra” Oiler rather than as a watchstander, but this does not change the fact that while he was serving as a watchstander, the CTMA was in clear violation of the Regulations. Therefore, the SIU respectfully submits that Transport Canada should also charge the CTMA with an additional sixth offence for deliberately employing xxxxxxx on the Clipper Ranger without possessing an Engine-room Rating certificate of competency, as required by the Regulations.

CTMA’s misconduct by using crew in violation of the Regulations, endangers the safety of crew, passengers, and third parties. It also poses an unacceptable risk to the environment. The CTMA’s actions could have resulted in a serious accident. For this reason, the SIU’s position is that merely requiring CTMA to cease and desist in its conduct is insufficient. CTMA must be sanctioned for its actions thought charges brought under section 246 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

I can assure you that the SIU, and its members, will offer its full cooperation in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


Patrice Caron

Executive Vice-President

Seafarers’ International Union of Canada