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. Sigh.