The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act provides the legal framework that governs TSB activities. Our mandate is to advance transportation safety in the marine, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation by
- conducting independent investigations, including public inquiries when necessary, into selected transportation occurrences in order to make findings as to their causes and contributing factors;
- identifying safety deficiencies, as evidenced by transportation occurrences;
- making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce any such safety deficiencies; and
- reporting publicly on our investigations and on the findings in relation thereto.
As part of its ongoing investigations, the TSB also reviews developments in transportation safety and identifies safety risks that it believes government and the transportation industry should address to reduce injury and loss.
To instill confidence in the public regarding the transportation accident investigation process, it is essential that an investigating agency be independent and free from any conflicts of interest when investigating accidents, identifying safety deficiencies, and making safety recommendations. As such, the TSB is an independent agency, separate from other government agencies and departments, that reports to Parliament through the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Our independence enables us to be fully objective in making findings as to causes and contributing factors, and in making transportation safety recommendations.
In making its findings as to the causes and contributing factors of a transportation occurrence, it is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability. However, the Board does not refrain from fully reporting on the causes and contributing factors merely because fault or liability might be inferred from the Board’s findings. No finding of the Board should be construed as assigning fault or determining civil or criminal liability. Findings of the Board are not binding on the parties to any legal, disciplinary, or other proceedings.
The TSB and other organizations
The TSB's mandate is distinct from those of other organizations such as Transport Canada (TC), the National Energy Board (NEB), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), and the Department of National Defense (DND), all of whom play a role in the transportation field. As an independent federal agency, the TSB is not associated with any of these organizations, although we do work in cooperation with them when conducting investigations and making safety recommendations.
Transport Canada is concerned with developing and administering policies, regulations and services for transportation systems in Canada with respect to federally regulated marine, rail and aviation transportation modes. The National Energy Board is responsible for regulating pipelines under federal jurisdiction. This differs from the TSB's mandate of advancing transportation safety in the marine, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation through the conduct of independent investigations, the identification of safety deficiencies, and the making of recommendations to eliminate or reduce such deficiencies.
When the TSB investigates an accident, no other federal department (except the Department of National Defense and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) may investigate for the purpose of making findings as to the causes and contributing factors of the accident. Transport Canada and the National Energy Board may investigate for any other purpose, such as regulatory infractions.
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