November 25, 1963

THE LATE PRESIDENT KENNEDY

SILENT TRIBUTE TO THE LATE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Acting Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, we are about to resume the discharge of our responsibilities for the nation's business, which we suspended on Friday after receiving the shocking news of the death of the late president of the United States. Just two hours ago in Washington the nation that President Kennedy led so brilliantly, joined by the representatives of countries far and near, paid a last formal tribute to him. As a mark of our respect and sorrow I should like to suggest to the house that before we turn to the business of the day the members stand for one minute in silent tribute.

[Whereupon the house stood in silence for one minute.]

Topic:   THE LATE PRESIDENT KENNEDY
Subtopic:   SILENT TRIBUTE TO THE LATE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

SUSPENSION OF ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

?

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

I understand that agreement has been reached by all members that we will dispense with routine proceedings and pass at once to legislation, and that at 5 p.m. we will suspend the hour for private members' business and adjourn at 6 p.m. Is it so ordered?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Sub-subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT AT 6 P.M.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Sub-subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT AT 6 P.M.
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RAILWAY ACT

AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND

LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. G. J. Mcllraiih (Minister of Transport) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Railway Act, chapter 40 of the statutes of 1958, as amended by chapter 35 of the statutes of 1960, to permit certain grants to be made from the railway grade crossing fund for a further period of three years beyond January 31, 1964.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Batten in the chair.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

The purpose of this legislation is to extend for a further period of

three years, from January 31, 1964, an expanded program of assistance through the railway grade crossing fund for the provision of reflective markings on the sides of railway cars, for the cost of protective work at level crossings, and for the building or reconstruction of grade separations.

In 1955, following an investigation into the matter of grade crossing protection assistance by the board of transport commissioners, section 265 of the Railway Act was amended by increasing the annual statutory grant to the grade crossing fund from $1 million to $5 million. At the same time the limits on the contribution to any single project were raised from 40 per cent of total cost or $150,000 maximum to 60 per cent of total cost or $300,000 maximum. Provision was also made for the first time to allow contributions from the fund for reconstruction and improvement of grade separations which had become obsolete in the course of time.

The result of this was a marked expansion in the program of crossing protection and removal throughout the country, and a backlog of worth while projects accumulated in excess of the resources available to the grade crossing fund. In 1958 section 265 was therefore again amended providing for a further expansion in the maximum limits of funds that could be applied to single projects. These became 80 per cent of cost to a maximum of $500,000 for projects at level crossings, and 50 per cent or $250,000 for the reconstruction of existing grade separations. Beginning that year a supplementary grant of $10 million for the fund was voted in the estimates. This legislation provided a three year period for the expanded limits just described. In 1960 the period was extended by another amendment of the act.

This period will expire on January 31, 1964. The present bill will provide for the extension of the period for a further three years, until January 31, 1967. What is being sought today is authority to continue that extended limit for the further period of three years.

This legislation also deals with another matter which has nothing to do with expenditure. Recently in the supreme court of Alberta, trial division, a decision was handed down having to do with the speed of railway trains at crossings where protection had been ordered. The interpretation placed on the section of the relevant statute is somewhat

Railway Act

different than that which had been the basis of railway practice. The effect of the decision is that once an order for protection has been approved, the railways are then required by law to pass over the crossing concerned at 10 miles an hour. It had been the practice, where crossings of this type had been involved, and the time for installing the protection had passed, that trains should be required to pass over the intersection at this limited speed. The interpretation placed on it by the Alberta judgment also meant that trains could not speed up once they had entered the crossing.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Whose judgment is that?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

Mr. Justice Manning's. Once the trains had entered the crossing it is felt they should be able to speed up. One result of the proposed change is that the board of transport commissioners can deal with the question of the speed when they are making the order. The effect of the judgment is that the practice of trying to get from the highways departments of the provinces the various crossings with which they are concerned and make the orders as early in each year as possible, although work on those orders might not be carried out until considerably later in the year, would have to be changed or discontinued; and it is thought that this would mitigate against the effective use of the grade crossing fund.

From my observations in the house over a vast number of years I must say that I think this is legislation of a nature that has commended itself to all parties in the house, and I would hope that the legislation for which leave is now being sought would appeal to the house in the same way.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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NDP

Barry Mather

New Democratic Party

Mr. Mather:

Mr. Chairman, I wonder

whether it would be in order at this time for me to ask the minister a question regarding these level crossing procedures. Has the government given consideration to the brief submitted by the Canadian Automobile Association and the representations of other road safety organizations, which I understand are advocating the arm type of railway crossing guard protection involving the lowering of the guard at the crossing? Further, has the department considered the wisdom of guarding crossing approaches by means of the standard highway safety signs used in the provinces?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

I think I should point out to the hon. member for New Westminster that this is a matter that is dealt with by the board of transport commissioners, not by the department. Briefs have been submitted to them. The board of transport commissioners works very closely with the provinces in this matter. The relationship is quite close, and I have reason to believe it is relatively

[Mr. Mcllraith.l

satisfactory to both parties concerned. The program also appears to have had some effect in reducing the number of accidents. I think hon. members will be glad to know that there is a declining number of accidents at these crossings each year. That process has gone on since 1958. This is particularly significant when you bear in mind the sharply increased number of automobiles on the highways each year and, regrettably, the sharply increased number of automobile accidents taking place each year.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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PC

William Marvin Howe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howe (Wellinglon-Huron):

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a few words on the very important piece of legislation before the committee this afternoon. That it is important practically every member in the house will agree, because they will have memories of tragic accidents that have occurred at level crossings in their ridings. I well remember some that have occurred in my riding or adjacent to it. One accident that stands out in my mind particularly took place at Hillsburgh, a few miles from Guelph, just a few short months ago. A school bus was struck by a train. Quite a number of young students as well as the driver of the bus were killed, and there were serious injuries to others riding in the bus.

Grade crossing separation is a progressive practice that has been going on for some time, and a great many have been installed at level crossings throughout the country. The fact is that trains are not running as regularly as they used to because of the reduction in traffic, but I think it is just as imperative now as it ever was that grade crossing separations be carried out. People become careless. When they come to a railway crossing they should realize that the only way to get across safely is to proceed on the basis that any time is train time, and take all the necessary precautions.

However, at times the public have to have this brought to their attention more forcibly through the installation of signal lights and crossing arms, which are still important factors in preventing accidents. In this day and age, when people are travelling faster in their motor cars and when railroad trains are travelling faster, I think it is important that this legislation be kept in force. I was noticing that in the estimates for 1960-61 the fund stood at $10 million and was then reduced to $5 million. Perhaps when the minister is replying he might tell us just where the fund stands at the moment. He might also be able to tell us how many applications there are before the board at the moment for the installation of signals, crossing arms or grade separation, as it is called.

There is one other point I should like to mention. When this act was being amended in

1958 a provision was introduced to make it possible for the railroads to put reflective markings on the railroad cars. Periodically we pick up our newspapers and learn that someone travelling along a road at night or perhaps during a storm when visibility was poor has run into the side of a train at a crossing. I well recall the arguments put forward in this connection by a former member of this house, Mr. Gordon K. Fraser. This was one of his ideas, that railroad cars should have reflective markings on the side so they would stand out at night. We know that some of the Canadian National cars are now marked in this way, and they are more easily seen as they are moving over a crossing during a period when visibility is poor. I was wondering if the minister would have any idea how far this work has progressed, and what the plans of the railway are for the future in regard to putting these reflective markings on railway cars.

This act is to be extended for another three years, and I am sure the people of Canada who travel on our highways will be happy to learn of this fact, because we want to do everything possible to minimize the danger of accidents at railway crossings.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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SC

Robert Norman Thompson

Social Credit

Mr. Thompson:

Mr. Chairman, there is just one matter I want to mention. It is simple, but I believe it is important. We all realize that we are dealing with money which will be allotted for the installation of railway crossing safety devices. We are concerned about this because everyone knows that from time to time serious accidents are occurring across this nation which in the aggregate are taking the lives of many Canadians.

Not only are our newspapers full of references to such accidents but we each have our own experiences in our own areas in this connection. Only a few months ago in my own city of Red Deer a whole carload of people lost their lives while riding in a taxi when the car collided with a train at a crossing at which there was not ample protection.

I am thinking specifically, however, of a bus accident which occurred at Lamont, Alberta, a few years ago, in which a whole busload of children were involved, many of whom lost their lives. At that time the committee investigating this mishap received evidence regarding a comparatively cheap safety device which was actually demonstrated at the time. This device is activated by a low power radio transmitter on a locomotive engine and makes contact with any nearby vehicle that has the corresponding device installed inside it. Cost of installation of this type of device, both for the railroad and the automobile, is comparatively

Railway Act

cheap and can be reckoned in terms of tens of dollars instead of hundreds of dollars, which is the cost of the normal automatic safety device. Because it is safe and simple, and because it gives a certain amount of protection, it could serve in many places where accidents take place almost daily.

I would like to ask the minister whether any consideration has been given to the acquisition of this type of safety device which could be used particularly by public vehicles, and in many cases by people who frequently use unprotected railway crossings. I do not think any of us can be complacent in the face of this appalling toll of human life which takes place month after month, and certainly this device is worth investigating. It would give much more widespread protection, at an inexpensive cost compared to the very expensive type of safety signal now being used. Does the minister have information in regard to this?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Wellington-Huron asked some questions, and I want to point out to him that the method of voting the money in the estimates was changed because it was found that the actual expenditures were not taking place in the year in line with commitments. The form of the estimate is now really a commitment authority, but it adds up to the same thing. It is a different and I think a better way of doing it. This method was decided upon in the light of experience, and there is no reduction of funds. The $10 million which was formerly provided in the estimates as a direct vote is now provided by way of direct vote and by way of commitment authority, and it brings the full amount up to the equivalent of $15 million a year.

In answer to the questions about the application, and so on, I should perhaps inform the committee there are about 35 active applications for grade operations; there are about 400 active automatic protection projects, and the rate of putting reflectors on the cars-whatever that is called-is about 6,000 cars per year. The number of grade crossings that are having reflectorized material put on the crossing signs is about 2,500 per year. I hope these statistics have given the answer to the hon. member for Red Deer. If not, and if he will restate his question, I will try to give him the information.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
Permalink
SC

Robert Norman Thompson

Social Credit

Mr. Thompson:

I am somewhat familiar with the cost of the normal automatic signal device which is being installed and being presently considered for several hundred crossings, but I am interested in something that is cheaper, which might not give the same degree of safety but which could

Railway Act

prevent many of the accidents which take place. Has this cheaper type of device, this radio controlled device activated from a locomotive installation, been considered by the department both as a safety and economy measure?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

I find myself a little vague as to the device the hon. member is talking about. Is he talking about the device that would be in the automobile?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT EXTENDING PAYMENTS FROM GRADE CROSSING FUND
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November 25, 1963