General Information

FACT SHEET: President Obama to Commemorate 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Since taking office, President Obama has made it a key priority to continue and expedite the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Over the past six and a half years, the Administration has focused on supporting the needs of survivors and bolstering the recovery efforts already underway by state, local and federal officials by cutting red tape to deploy important resources quickly, investing in hard hit communities, and ensuring that affected communities build back stronger and more resilient.

The President has directed his Administration to take an all-of-Nation approach – to work closely with and support the work of all of our partners, including state and local governments, tribal and volunteer organizations, the private sector, and families.

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the storm, the Administration will continue its all-of-Nation approach, with the President and members of his cabinet planning to visit impacted areas to highlight some of the many remarkable recovery and resilience stories across the region.

  • On Thursday, August 27th, the President will travel to New Orleans to meet with the Mayor and residents – including youth — in several neighborhoods who have rebuilt their lives over the past 10 years. While in the city, the President will deliver remarks on the region’s rebirth and what’s possible when citizens, city and corporate leaders all work together to lift up their communities and build back in ways that make them more innovative and positioned for economic growth. The President will be joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, who has helped spearhead and coordinate many of the Administration’s efforts and this all-of-Nation approach over the past six and a half years.
  • Administrator Fugate and other FEMA officials will be on the ground for commemoration events in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas in the days leading up to the anniversary, with Administrator Fugate joining New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for an event on August 25th to release the city’s resilience strategy, and traveling to Mississippi on August 26th to visit several schools that have rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina. On August 27th, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, whose agency has worked closely with state and local officials to move residents toward long term housing, will join a bipartisan group of elected officials for an event hosted by Sen. Cochran at the Port of Gulfport, and will then travel to New Orleans on August 28th for commemoration events. The Gulf Restoration Council, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Army, U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency, will host public meetings in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as part of its ongoing efforts to restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
  • U.S. Department of Education officials, who have worked closely with impacted school districts on education reform and rebuilding efforts, will visit New Orleans in the days leading up to the anniversary to participate in an Urban League of New Orleans town hall about public education and highlight the work of the New Orleans Recovery School District. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials, who have focused on strengthening public health and community health care options, will attend the grand opening celebration of the University Medical Center New Orleans.
  • Throughout the week, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers AmeriCorps, will travel to the Mississippi communities of Waveland, Gulfport, and Biloxi as well as Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana to participate in events highlighting the critical efforts of service organizations, first responders, the higher education community, and key stakeholders who have invested in recovery efforts over the past 10 years. Since 2005, more than 40,000 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers have served 10 million hours in Katrina Response, and recruited and managed more than 650,000 volunteers. Working with local partners and elected officials, CNCS grantees will engage 11,000 volunteers in the Gulf Region directly related to the Katrina anniversary.
  • On Friday, August 28 Shaun Donovan, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, will tour the Louisiana coastline and receive a briefing on protection and restoration projects. He will also visit several New Orleans community development projects and resilience efforts and make remarks at a convening of national philanthropic, policy and community leaders. On Saturday, August 29 he will participate in a Katrina memorial commemorative wreath laying and participate in Day of Service events.
  • Officials from the Small Business Administration, which has supported the recovery of small and medium size businesses, will partner with companies and local organizations in Louisiana to highlight small business preparedness efforts and lessons learned, and will join the City of New Orleans for day of service events across the region. Officials from the Department of Commerce – which has led efforts to support international trade and economic recovery in Louisiana – will partner with the Delta Regional Authority, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and other local organizations on Thursday, August 27 to provide a two-part event that will convene regional leaders to focus on how international trade is fueling economic growth in the region and provide a technical workshop to prepare area businesses for success in the global marketplace. And NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan will visit local businesses that have rebuilt to become more resilient to future events in Biloxi.

Below is additional information highlighting the Obama Administration’s post-Katrina recovery efforts:

Partnering with Gulf Coast States to Build Back Stronger and Safer: Ten years into the recovery, the Obama Administration continues to work side-by-side with state, local, and tribal partners to finish the job of rebuilding communities that are the economic engines and lifeblood of the Gulf Coast.  Since 2009, FEMA has provided more than $5.2 billion to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for thousands of public works projects, including the repair and rebuilding of schools, hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, and historic buildings and museums. To protect against future catastrophic storms, FEMA is also working with states to help communities build back smarter and stronger than ever before. Since 2009, FEMA has delivered over $1.4 billion to Louisiana and Mississippi for 682 mitigation projects, including work to elevate homes and critical infrastructure, retrofit government and residential structures, and support a broad range of drainage improvement projects. For more information on FEMA’s ongoing commitment to the region, including an overview of FEMA’s enhanced abilities to help communities respond and recover from catastrophic disasters, visit: beta.fema.gov/katrina10

Unprecedented Focus on Restoring the Gulf Coast Economy and Ecosystem:  Since 2009, the Obama Administration has been committed to fostering a stronger, healthier, and more resilient Gulf Coast region.  Working with local residents, businesses, State and local officials, the Administration has developed a long-term strategy and inclusive framework to address the coastal resilience needs of the Gulf Coast region.  The Administration has brought federal, state, and local government together to better align decision-making and resources initially with the development and release of the Roadmap for Restoring Ecosystem Resiliency and Sustainability in Louisiana and Mississippi, expanding efforts to all five Gulf Coast States through creation of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, and building a lasting forum for collaboration with establishment of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, a new independent entity based in the Gulf Coast region.  The Council recently announced $183 million in proposed restoration projects. The Administration has worked to hold BP accountable reaching the recent agreement in principle totaling approximately $18.7 billion for the gulf region, and potentially the largest settlement with an individual company in U.S. history.  It includes investments of approximately $700 million in early restoration projects have been made through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment Trustee Council to restore the Gulf’s economy, fisheries, wetlands, water quality, and wildlife and bring lasting benefits to the region for generations to come. 

Supporting Education and Strengthening Schools: The U.S. Department of Education has supported Katrina-affected areas in New Orleans and in Louisiana by investing over $100 million since 2009, in addition to formula grants given to Katrina-affected states. These funds have helped local leaders and educators to launch a new public education system in New Orleans, including retaining, developing and supporting great teachers and principals.

Creating Jobs and Economic Growth by Rebuilding Infrastructure: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has done tremendous work to rebuild, improve access to opportunity, and strengthen the economic competitiveness of communities in the Gulf Region. Earlier this year DOT released the U.S. DOT Gulf Coast Study which offers tools and lessons learned that transportation agencies across the country are using to assess vulnerabilities and build resilience to climate change to better prepare for natural disasters. In DOT’s effort to help rebuild, DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program has provided $115.6 million for nine projects since 2009 helping to create jobs, expand transit options, enhance bicycle/pedestrian safety and improve economic competitiveness at regional ports. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has provided nearly $1 million to promote workforce development and improve emergency preparedness in the New Orleans region. As part of DOT’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, Secretary Foxx launched the Ladders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment Pilot (LadderSTEP) which provides technical assistance to help support revitalization efforts in seven cities across America. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many evacuees relocated to the city of Baton Rouge – one of the seven LadderSTEP pilot cities – which will receive assistance from FTA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as it plans a Nicholson Street Corridor streetcar line. Finally, earlier this year, Secretary Foxx introduced the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets which calls on Mayors across America to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in their communities. To date, more than 230 local mayors and elected officials have accepted the Mayors’ Challenge including New Orleans, Louisiana and Gulfport, Mississippi.

Helping local governments and rescue personnel plan for severe weather events: In June 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the U.S. Department of Labor released a new set of BLS maps and tables showing employment, wages, and establishment counts in hurricane flood zones including the Gulf Coast.  The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program has been producing maps of economic activity in disaster areas since 2001.  Until now, maps like this were created after an event had already occurred.   Now, BLS is providing information on the potential economic damage for businesses and jobs before a hurricane or other weather event approaches the U.S. coastline, using information maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  These data are available to all, including emergency planners, first responders, and community aid groups. In addition, recognizing that severe weather often leads to power outages, which impact residents who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services developed an interactive GIS-based tool to aid local government and rescue personnel in planning. Every hospital, first responder, electric company, and community member can use the HHS emPOWER Map to find the monthly total of Medicare beneficiaries with electricity-dependent equipment claims at the U.S. state, territory, county, and zip code level and turn on “real-time” NOAA severe weather tracking services to identify areas and populations that may be impacted and at risk for power outages. This capability was first demonstrated in a pilot project with the New Orleans Department of Health.

Repairing and Rebuilding Homes: As part of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) deployed more than 40,000 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers, who in turn served more than 10 million hours through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the St. Bernard Project, Teach For America, and other nonprofits. These AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers have assisted more than 3 million Katrina survivors, including the rebuilding or repairing of more than 15,400 homes. More than one million volunteers served in the Gulf Coast, many of which were managed by AmeriCorps members – the largest volunteer response to a natural disaster in American history. In the last 10 years, CNCS has invested more than $333 million to support national service in Louisiana and Mississippi. Today, more than 9,500 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers serve at 1,000 locations in both states.  National service grantees are working with local organizations to implement service projects commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; the projects are expected to engage more than 10,000 volunteers.

Restoring long-term housing options and ensuring affordable rent for low-income families: Over the last 10 years, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investments have had a major impact on the recovery of the five-state Gulf region devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Working closely with state disaster recovery leaders in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and Florida, HUD has allocated nearly $20 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding.  To date, these investments have contributed toward the long-term recovery of the region’s housing stock, economy, and infrastructure. In the aftermath of the storm, more than 82,000 families lived in HUD-assisted apartment buildings across the Gulf that suffered damage by Hurricane Katrina. Today, a remarkable 98 percent of these apartments are fully restored and families are back in their homes. And to help tens of thousands of families find permanent housing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program has expanded assistance to more than 17,000 households in New Orleans today, nearly double its pre-Katrina figure. These vouchers are critical to ensuring that very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled can afford to live in safe, decent housing in the private market.

Investing in Public Safety and Neighborhood Redevelopment. The Environmental Protection Agency has partnered with various local school districts to provide grants and assistance to improve indoor air quality, provide mold removal and perform rodent and pest elimination in schools.  Over $55 million has been provided for over 100 neighborhood watershed, marsh habitat, and the Mississippi barrier island restoration projects and over $67 million has gone to communities to upgrade drinking water systems.  Additionally, EPA has awarded over $7.5 million in Brownfield funding for property assessment and clean-up for redevelopment.  While providing grant money and training for neighborhood redevelopment, EPA has also performed site assessment and remediation for over 300 sites affected by Hurricane Katrina, including over 116 Underground storage tanks and 124 sites with confirmed releases of petroleum.

Launching New Resilience-Focused AmeriCorps Partnerships: The Obama Administration has formed public-private partnerships to apply the lessons learned and best practices from the national service response to Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, the Obama Administration announced a partnership between CNCS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA that created FEMA Corps. FEMA Corps is an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program. In addition to serving along the Gulf Coast, the AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps unit has been part of the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and other disasters. In June, the St. Bernard Project, CNCS, and Toyota announced a three-year, $5 million investment from Toyota that will train 420 AmeriCorps members to help 30 communities to become more resilient. In July, CNCS, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with guidance and financial support from The Rockefeller Foundation and technical assistance and programmatic support from Cities of Service announced the first-ever Resilience AmeriCorps, a two-year pilot program that will recruit, train, and embed AmeriCorps VISTA members in ten communities.  The new partnerships will enable AmeriCorps members to increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.

Strengthening Access to Public Health and Disaster Aid for Veterans: In advance of the Affordable Care Act, the New Orleans area began moving toward a health care system that included preventative primary care delivered in neighborhood clinics. The Obama administration provided funding for these community health centers, which serve more than 50,000 people. Additionally, to replace the Veterans hospital destroyed by the storm, a nearly $1 billion, 1.6 million-square-foot VA Medical Center, is under construction near downtown New Orleans. To better prepare for emergencies, the new medical center will have five-day, self-sustaining capabilities for 1,000 people and all mission-critical services are 20 feet above ground elevation. Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System’s commitment to partner with Louisiana State University and Tulane University Medical schools for expanded acute care services, medical education and research has grown in the decade since Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, in response to situations faced by many Veterans following Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pursued legislation (and later achieved in P.L. 112-154) that allowed VA to subordinate its first-lien mortgage status to another state, federal, or local entity in instance of major disasters. This allows Veterans impacted by future disasters to obtain disaster relief funds from programs which require first-lien status to rebuild or repair their homes. 
 
Ending Veterans Homelessness in Katrina-Impacted Communities: In June 2014, the First Lady announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness as part of the Joining Forces Initiative. Since the announcement, 585 mayors, 8 governors, and 152 county and city officials have publicly committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015. The New Orleans VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) is the first of VA’s referral centers to integrate federal, city, and private sector resources to serve both Veteran and non-Veteran homeless citizens and their family members. VA’s CRRC was an instrumental resource, along with an interagency council consisting of UNITY of Greater New Orleans; the Housing Authority of New Orleans; the State Office of Community Development; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the New Orleans Interagency on Homelessness, in accepting, and in January 2015, meeting the First Lady’s challenge. In April, the First Lady joined with Mayor Mitch Landrieu to celebrate this momentous achievement. And in June, Houston became the largest city in the country to end veteran homelessness.

Investing in Innovation and Economic Growth of the Gulf Region and Communities:  The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce have invested $178 million to support economic development opportunities and increase assistance to entrepreneurs in high-growth, high-wage industries in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Investments have supported workforce development partnerships, business development services, technology transfer activities, and the expansion of industries that rebuild wetlands, implement water management strategies, promote clean technologies, and perform other risk mitigation activities. The Department’s SelectUSA program, established by President Obama in 2011, has also worked to win more than $10 billion in foreign direct investment for Gulf Coast communities. To promote U.S. goods and protect Gulf Coast manufacturing jobs, the Department’s three U.S. Export Assistance Centers in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi have supported  more than twenty international trade missions, 80 export outreach and counseling events, and touched more than 560 local businesses. Through these efforts, exports from Gulf Coast have grown more than 77 percent or nearly $126 billion since 2009.

Building Prepared and Resilient Gulf Communities and a Weather-Ready Nation: The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have invested significant funds to increase the resilience of Gulf communities and their environment. In 2010, NOAA established the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala. to serve as a regional coordination center for federal, state and local emergency managers and partners to help Gulf communities prepare, respond to, and recover from disasters and serve as an emergency operations center during crisis.  NOAA has helped to rebuild Gulf barrier island chains and natural wetlands critical for protection from storms and has provided more than $9 million in grants for projects to help make coastal communities more resilient to the effects of extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. The Administration has also made significant advancements to improve predictions, hurricane forecasts and storm surge models through investments in technology, data and innovation.  Moreover, scientists from the U.S. Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey have engaged in a sustained program to understand and forecast hurricane-related impacts, developing and using the latest technology to provide reliable scientific information to communicate the threats associated with major storms and support decisions made by citizens and coastal managers.   Together, these improvements will allow Gulf communities and businesses to better prepare for and respond to future storms–protecting infrastructure and property, minimizing economic losses, and protecting our communities and saving lives. 

Repairing the Criminal Justice System and Strengthening Crime Prevention Efforts:  The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) worked with the City of New Orleans and service providers, including Catholic Charities, to rebuild and transform the City’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault victims.  This work culminated in the New Orleans Family Justice Center – a co-located facility for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  In addition, OVW’s work resulted in the development of the multi-disciplinary New Orleans Sexual Assault Response Team (New Orleans SART).  In July 2012, the Department also partnered with the City of New Orleans to enter into a consent decree to help ensure that the New Orleans Police Department engages in constitutional policing. In September 2012, New Orleans was selected by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through a competitive application process to join the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a network of communities and federal agencies that work together, share information and build local capacity to prevent and reduce youth violence.  Supported by the Forum, New Orleans developed the NOLA FOR LIFE PLAYbook: Promoting Life for all Youth – a strategic plan for action to prevent youth violence. The PLAYbook takes a collective impact approach to addressing youth violence, and emphasizes the tools of public health: a focus on prevention, data-driven strategies, collaboration, and a population-level scale for action.  Since 2012, Forum funding to the City of New Orleans Health Department is nearly $500,000. DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) also worked closely with the City of New Orleans to provide valuable research to support rebuilding the city’s criminal justice system after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in three key research reports funded by the Bureau: first, an assessment of the city’s technology and information sharing systems, as it related to criminal justice work; second, BJA partnered with University of Maryland to produce a research study and recommendations regarding crime issues in New Orleans; and third, an assessment of the New Orleans Police Department’s homicide policies and procedures, resulting in a set of recommendations for better processing of homicides with the ultimate goal of increasing the clearance rate. 

Creating A New Model of Federal-Community Partnerships: The Obama Administration has also modeled a new partnership effort in cities and towns across the country, including in New Orleans.  Using a new approach the Administration has put federal supports in place to focus on the direction that cities and small towns want to go in and to partner with communities on their visions.  New Orleans is now home to seven federal “place-based” initiatives including: the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2), Partnership for Sustainable Communities, USDA’s Strike Force initiative, and the Youth Violence Prevention Forum.  New Orleans’ main priorities for these collaborations included Post-Katrina community development and increasing access to affordable housing for its residents.  The Strong Cities Strong Communities customized approach to working with local partners placed a federal team on the ground with a team lead working directly with the Mayor’s office to help cut through the red-tape.  Some of the impacts of this community lead work in New Orleans include:

  • A collaboration between the Housing Authority of New Orleans, HUD, the local VA hospital and other groups the New Orleans “Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” was able to bring the number of homeless veterans in New Orleans to functional zero by December 2014, a full year earlier than the proposed goal of 2015. 
  • President Obama’s TIGER grant program helped to expand and accelerate the return of streetcars to a city famous for them. A $45 million TIGER grant was awarded to open the Loyola Avenue-Union Passenger Terminal Streetcar Line in the city’s business district after years of development.
  • The DOT members of the New Orleans (SC2) team provided extensive technical assistance to the city of New Orleans for this project, and this support helped ensure that the streetcar line expansion was completed in time for use during the 2013 Super Bowl.
  • The President’s New Orleans team (SC2) helped prevent substantial reductions in service delivery in New Orleans’ community health clinic system by facilitating conversations among government officials at the federal, state, and city levels that extended the timeframe for submitting claims for reimbursement. This effort kept funding flowing to the clinics, kept them from drastically reducing services or closing down operations, and enabled them to continue to serve their communities. 
  • While almost all of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority’s old buses were destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, today thanks to help from the federal government it operates over 80 buses on 32 bus routes and boasts one of the newest fleets of any transit system in the country. The average vehicle age is just one year.  FEMA has obligated a total of more than $121.5 million to pay for a variety of the RTA’s costs, including new buses.
General Market

Remarks by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport to the Toronto Global Forum

Toronto, ON
July 10, 2015

Check against delivery

Introduction

Thank you for the invitation to join you today.

I would like to acknowledge Gil and Nicolas Rémillard and everyone who has made this event take place.

The Toronto Global Forum is fast becoming an important international event that brings together the notable speakers and participants from around the world in the fields of politics, industry, finance and academia.

As all of you here know, this is a very important day for Toronto. In a matter of hours, the PanAm Games will kick off here and will be followed next month by the Parapan Am Games.

As I understand it, this year’s Forum is being held earlier than normal because of the Games.

It‘s a great idea.

There is a lot of excitement in the air and I’m really looking forward to seeing the games, and especially going to the new Velodrome which is in my own riding, just north-west of here in Halton.

Plus, I have two sons who are very pumped.

Close to 7,000 athletes from across Latin America, South America, the Caribbean and North America will take part. Young people who have put in years of hard work to show they can compete on a world-class level.

Competing on a world-class level is also what the Harper government is doing when it comes to trade and transportation.

And that is what I’d like to speak about today.

Trade and transportation in Canada

For most of its history, Canada has been a trading nation and because of this, transportation has been integral to our economic growth and prosperity.

Today under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, more than ever, Canada is committed to using trade and transportation as tools to help build our economy.

We can reap economic advantages of international trade, but to be competitive, we must respond to global change.

This means planning strategically for the future and ensuring that our transportation networks are secure and can meet global demands.

It also means continuing to strengthen our relationships with public and private partners, both in Canada and in the nations of the Americas.

These relationships can help all our countries to exchange transportation ideas and best practices.

But they can do more.

They can help us to develop and share a common understanding of the important role that transportation plays in our economies.

And they can help us to maximize the contributions that our transportation systems can make.

I’d like to give you some examples today about how we are meeting these goals.

Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas

A whole-of-government approach that Canada is taking to this is what we call our Strategy for Engagement in the Americas.

Its three main goals are to increase Canadian and hemispheric economic opportunity; to strengthen security and institutions; and to foster lasting relationships.

The aim of our Strategy for Engagement in the Americas is to make the most of Canada’s relationships with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by aligning our priorities across the Government to better help Canadian businesses here at home.

That way, we leverage our actions to achieve the greatest impact.

In other words, if a federal department, agency or Crown corporation launches a project with a country in the Americas, we want to ensure that all partners in the Government of Canada, as well other levels of government, the private sector, civil society and academia in Canada, know about this work.

Current examples of such projects include continent-wide exchanges of transportation data, of developments in communications technologies and of technical information regarding civil aviation.

To inform everyone about such efforts, we have developed an extensive database and interactive mapping tool called Panorama.

Panorama connects our various departments and helps them to coordinate information about their projects, activities and initiatives that support Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas.

As well, the public can access information through Panorama, which displays where the Government of Canada is engaging and how.

Canada-Brazil MOU

This kind of exchange brings me to an achievement that I am very proud to highlight today.

In many regards, Canada is a world leader in aviation.

So it is especially gratifying when we can share what we have learned with nations in the Americas and around the world.

A prime example of Canada’s ability to exchange its experience and skills in air transportation is found in the growing relationship we have with our partners in Brazil.

In recent years, our two nations have worked together to deepen our cooperation in civil aviation.

This cooperation is producing results.

I am pleased to announce today that Canada and Brazil have concluded a memorandum of understanding to promote and expand cooperation in civil aviation, including with private-sector participation.

Through this MoU, my department and Brazil’s Civil Aviation Secretariat will bring together key Canadian and Brazilian stakeholders – both public and private – to discuss how we can work together to address issues such as airport development, air navigation and safety.

This is a true win-win proposition.

It will help us learn from each other, further our bilateral relationship, and create jobs and opportunities for Canadian and Brazilian infrastructure and aerospace product and service providers.

For example, Brazil may wish to learn about how Canada has dealt with the development and support of small and regional airports through our Airports Capital Assistance Program, or ACAP.

ACAP provides financial support to small and regional airports for safety-related improvements to their facilities. Through it, we have invested more than 680 million dollars in projects at 174 airports across Canada which has created jobs and opportunities from coast to coast to coast.

I will be signing this MOU later this morning, and I would like to thank Ambassador Bretas from Brazil for being here today to help make this happen.

Larger trade and transportation issues

This kind of record demonstrates the commitment we have to strengthening trade through transportation and to our desire to do so with international partners.

Trade, in fact, is equivalent to more than 60 per cent of our annual gross domestic product, and one in every five Canadian jobs is directly linked to exports.

Brazil, for example, is our 13th largest trading partner globally. Since 2009, bilateral trade between our two countries has increased by 35 per cent, reaching 5.6 billion dollars in 2014.

So trade is very, very important.

Since 2006, the Harper government has concluded trade agreements covering 38 countries, bringing the number of countries covered by Canadian trade agreements to 43.

As a result of the new trade agreement with the European Union and the entry into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement on January 1st of this year, Canadian businesses will benefit from preferential access to more than half of the entire global marketplace.

And the trade talks have not stopped.

To look ahead to tomorrow, we are also addressing overarching issues that face our communities and our country. Allow me to mention a couple of them.

The Arctic

First, there is the Arctic. The Arctic holds both promise and challenge for transportation in Canada, and indeed, for the world.

So, for more than 40 years, we have worked to address the risks that ships face in polar waters.

We have helped the International Maritime Organization to develop a mandatory Polar Code, which addresses both the safety and environmental protection aspects of shipping.

And when the Polar Code comes into force internationally in 2017, its safety and environmental measures will finally come close to what is already in place for vessels in Canada.

Canada-U.S. coordination

When it comes to transportation between Canada and the United States, consumers and businesses want transportation technologies to work seamlessly between Canada and the U.S.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada signed the Beyond the Border Agreement with President Obama which also provides Canada to work with our American partners under what is called the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

This initiative outlines concrete measures to facilitate regulatory alignment across a wide range of transportation sectors, in areas such as auto safety standards. And it is in this spirit that we recently announced aligned crude rail car regulations with our U.S. partners. The Regulatory Cooperation Council also looks at new and emerging technology such as drones or U.A.V.s (Unmanned Air Vehicles) and the opportunity for regulatory cooperation in these areas.

Conclusion

Because transportation is so fundamental to Canada’s development, government will always have a role to play in it. We will continue to work with our Canadian partners in the public and private sectors to live up to these responsibilities.

And we will continue to work our partners in the Americas and other regions around the globe to maintain transportation that is efficient, responsible and safe.

I thank you for asking me to join you today.

And I hope you all have the opportunity to witness this very important day in Toronto.

Thank you very much.

General Market

EU joining CITES Convention will help in the preparation of the Commission's wildlife trafficking action plan

Today the EU becomes the 181st party to join the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The Convention covers more than 35 000 animal species and plants, ensuring that trade remains legal and sustainable.

Further to a public consultation launched in 2014, the European Commission services have started the preparatory work for an EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, for which the EU accession to CITES constitutes an important milestone.

The aim of the Convention is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Wildlife trafficking has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, becoming an important source of financing for transnational organised crime and the fourth largest illegal business in the world, after drugs, weapons and human trafficking. Joining CITES makes the EU a stronger global actor. Now the priority is to strengthen the Convention and the fight against wildlife trafficking.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “Drugs, weapons, human trafficking and wildlife trafficking use the same illegal networks. Joining the CITES Convention is a big step in the preparation of our action plan to step up the fight against wildlife trafficking. CITES is the best response the international community has in the fight against wildlife criminals and their illegal, unsustainable trade. It allows us to use the expertise gained in dismantling other illegal networks”.

International agencies such as Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime work with the Convention, and have stepped up their engagement against transnational organised crime in this field. The CITES Convention means that trade sanctions can be taken as a last resort if Parties repeatedly fail to meet their obligations.

As well as covering exotic species, CITES also protects European species such as lynx, bears, wolves and eels.

Background

Wildlife trafficking has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, becoming the fourth largest illegal business in the world. Only drugs, weapons and human trafficking are larger. More than 20 000 elephants and 1200 rhinoceroses were killed in 2014 and, after years of recovery, their populations are once more in decline. Species such as sharks, tigers, great apes, turtles, pangolins, corals and tropical timber are being traded illegally to meet a rising demand worldwide.

The EU has been a major supporter of the CITES Convention for many years, through funding for capacity-building programmes, especially in relation to marine and timber species, as well as against elephant poaching and ivory trade.

For more information:

On the EU approach to combat wildlife trafficking: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/trafficking_en.htm

On the EU Accession to CITES: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/gaborone_en.htm

General Market

Remarks by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport to the Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver, BC
July 7, 2015

Check against delivery

Introduction

Thank you for the invitation to join you today

It’s a pleasure to be back here at the Vancouver Board of Trade, and less than year after my last visit.

Back then, I spoke about the federal government’s role in transportation, trade and support for infrastructure, and the importance of the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

While I will touch on some of these same matters today, I want to focus on two issues in particular.

First, the future of transportation in this country and how the Government of Canada is preparing for it. And second, on a related note, protecting our marine environment and what we are doing – right now – to address this issue.

Let me begin with this second topic.

Clear Seas

The Government of Canada is committed to using trade and transportation as tools to help build our economy.

This cannot be overstated.

As the demand for our country’s natural resources continues, we can also expect that marine traffic will increase in the coming years. 

In particular, British Columbia is now faced with a tremendous opportunity in the form of proposed liquefied natural gas projects. Thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars of proposed investments in marine LNG export facilities will transform BC’s economy, and secure our future prosperity.

With that increase in traffic, we will need to pay special attention to protecting our coastal communities and our precious marine environment.

One way to accomplish this is to ensure that communities, industry, and Canadians have independent information on the best practices that could be used to safely ship Canadian exports, including natural resource products such as oil and gas.

To help address this need, I announced yesterday that our government will provide up to 3.7 million dollars to help launch Clear Seas – the Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping. 

The Vancouver-based Centre will support research and provide independent evidence-based information on how to best transport Canada’s resources to customers abroad, while safeguarding the environment.

The Government of Canada is joined in supporting this initiative by partners such as Port Metro Vancouver, the Province of Alberta and other parties.

This Centre will complement the work we are already pursuing through our World-Class Tanker Safety System initative, which is a government initiative ongoing since 2012 to strengthen and improve Canada’s tanker safety regime.

Our goals in world-class tanker safety are to prevent ship-source oil spills, clean them up quickly if they do happen and ensure that polluters pay.

Because we are serious about getting this right, in 2012, we created the Tanker Safety Expert Panel, which was tasked with reviewing Canada’s current system, and proposing measures to strengthen it.

The panel has completed their work. One of their key recommendations was for the government to create area-specific preparedness and response plans, tailored to respond to the needs of specific marine regions. This approach is known as Area Response Planning. In keeping with this recommendation, I am pleased to today announce today the launch of our Area Response Planning pilot project.

This project will create risk-based plans to address ship-source oil spills.

By working in collaboration with local communities, Aboriginal groups, industry and all levels of government, these plans will be tailored to the conditions in a particular geographic area.

We are piloting this initiative in four areas with high levels of tanker traffic:

  • the southern portion of British Columbia, including Vancouver Harbour;
  • Saint John and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick;
  • Port Hawkesbury and the Strait of Canso, Nova Scotia; and
  • the St. Lawrence River (Montreal to Anticosti Island), Quebec. 

To support Area Response Planning, Transport Canada’s Community Participation Funding Program will provide up to 2.1 million dollars to support stakeholders and Aboriginal groups that are eligible to participate in the pilot project.

These measures build on many other actions we have taken as part of our Tanker Safety System.

For example, we have already begun to:

  • Modernize Canada’s marine navigation system;
  • Increase marine inspections;
  • Work with communities and Aboriginal groups to develop area response plans;
  • Give spill responders access to alternative response measures when there is a clear environmental benefit;
  • Establish an Incident Command System under the Canadian Coast Guard to improve responses to marine incidents; and;
  • Strengthen the “polluter pays” principle by enhancing Canada’s Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund.

To expand on that, we have a robust, multi-layered regime built on the “polluter-pays” principle.  It involves strong partnerships across industry, all levels of government, and stakeholders. Before entering Canadian waters, all vessels of 400 gross tonnage or more and oil tankers of 150 gross tonnage or more destined for a Canadian port must have an agreement in place with a Transport Canada certified spill response organization to clean up any of their spills. The polluter, not the taxpayer, then pays the bill.    

Our certified partner in British Columbia, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, maintains an extensive inventory of the most sophisticated spill response equipment available today, including 28 response vessels and over 50 response trailers. This includes 12 vessels at 7 locations right here in Vancouver Harbour, as well as a warehouse in Burnaby, and thousands of meters of boom. The Western Canada Marine Response team has a network of over 500 trained responders. It is those hard working men and women who you see out on the water, laying boom, at any time of day or night, when required to protect our waters and beaches from spills.

Today, certified oil response organizations operating in Canada south of 60 degrees latitude, such as West Coast Marine Response, must be able to respond to a 10,000 tonne spill in Canada’s waters in a prescribed period of time. Amongst other things, the Area Response Planning project that I am announcing today will consider whether and by how much to increase that mandatory capacity, on a region-by-region basis, in order to further safeguard our coast and strengthen our ability to respond to spills, all while ensuring that costs are borne by shippers, not taxpayers.

One other important action taken is the expansion of our National Aerial Surveillance Program of vessels in Canadian waters.

In fact, National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft assisted in dealing with the recent fuel spill that took place in English Bay.

Having personally flown on these aircraft, I’ve been impressed with the skill that their crews bring to monitoring our coastal environments.

These efforts to continuously strengthen our tanker safety system demonstrate our resolve to support safe and efficient shipping of our natural resources.

And they highlight our commitment to protecting our valuable marine environments, both in this region and across the country.

APGCI

Our actions to protect the environment go hand in hand with our efforts to support our international trade agenda and transportation infrastructure in this region, through programs like the Asia Pacific Gateways and Corridors Initiative.

The Government of Canada has invested more than 1.4 billion dollars in some 50 projects, partnering with the four western provinces, as well as municipalities and the private sector.

In fact, just this morning, I was in Richmond to join our partners to mark ongoing progress of two projects that are receiving funding from the APGCI.

These are projects to widen the No. 6 Road from Wireless Way to Highway 91 and also to widen the Nelson Road and Westminster Highway.

Beyond Traffic

These initiatives and others demonstrate how we are looking ahead in transportation.

Now, I want to talk a little bit more broadly about the overall future of transportation in Canada.

I’ve been thinking about this after reading a substantial report that the United States Department of Transportation published this past spring.

Titled Beyond Traffic, it is a “blue-sky” document that looks ahead 30 years to the future of transportation in the U.S.

At some 300 pages, it is not a quick read. But it touches on many issues we also face in Canada or will face together with our American neighbours, since our systems are so integrated.

Let me mention some of the points it makes.  

The first point is that the most important transportation innovation of the recent past and the future may be this smartphone.

It can help drivers to choose routes based on how traffic is moving — hands free, of course.

It can tell transit riders when buses or trains will arrive and let air travellers adjust their flight bookings.

Second, the report notes that new communications technologies, combined with factors such as flexible schedules and “hoteling” – unassigned office space — will change how people work and commute.

In fact, the fastest growing mode of commuting is actually telecommuting.

And third, the report points out that people are actually driving less than they did a decade ago. This is especially the case for younger adults, as many choose to live where they can bike, walk and take public transit to work or school.

Our government is in tune with this.

It understands the need for new and improved public transit.

In fact, in our Economic Action Plan 2015, we are proposing to provide 750 million dollars over two years, beginning in 2017, and one billion dollars a year thereafter that will go into a new and dedicated public transit fund to support major public transit projects.

When it comes to marine transportation, the US report points out that automation is increasing efficiency on ships, and that our ports will be increasingly automated.

As well, the use of intermodal freight in containers is changing the game, allowing increasingly seamless movement of goods between ships, trains, and trucks.

And we know that the game could change more in succeeding decades, due to shifts in freight demand, shipping and manufacturing.

So, what do we take from these marine trends?

First, if we want to maintain strong international shipping and trade, we’d better be ready with safe and efficient facilities.

And second, we’d better keep developing people who have the skills to operate them.

This is why I support marine industry training initiatives, such as the one here that is run by the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association.

These programs are helping to develop a new and more diverse maritime workforce with new skills in transportation.

Technology is also changing aviation in many ways. For example, it is improving the precision of air traffic control and allowing aircraft to fly in closer spaces, thus reducing congestion and delays.

Applying this to Canada

These trends in US transportation provide us with points to consider in Canada, since our countries are not all that different and many of these trends and issues apply here.

The people I lead at Transport Canada are always looking ahead to find the best way to deal with the fluidity of the future.

But here’s more good news: people in both public and private sectors in Canada are already addressing some of these questions. They are going beyond what transportation is and talking about what it could be.

This is exciting.

There are specific programs in Transport Canada – as well as projects we are supporting in research and with businesses – that are looking to the transportation of tomorrow.

And suffice to say, there are many overarching issues that face our communities and our country.

The Arctic

One major issue is the Arctic, which holds both promise and challenge for transportation in Canada.

Challenges, such as how transportation infrastructure is limited there. And that, when such facilities are built, they can be tough to maintain.

But travelling to and through the Arctic continues to be an important pursuit.

Canada has long recognized that marine transportation, in particular, plays a key role in opening up the North’s vast potential.

So, for more than 40 years, we have worked to address the risks that ships face in polar waters.

A prime example of this is how we helped the International Maritime Organization to develop the Polar Code.

It addresses factors such as:

  • ship design and construction;
  • lifesaving and navigation equipment;
  • operational and training factors, and
  • pollution prevention measures.

We should take pride that, when the Polar Code comes into force internationally in 2017, its safety and environmental measures will finally come close to what is already in place for vessels in Canada. 

Canada-U.S. coordination

When it comes to transportation in general, however, one challenge we face is that consumers and businesses here want their transportation technologies to work seamlessly, whether they are in Canada and the U.S.

If you thought converting kilometers to miles was tricky, just imagine the problems you’d face if your connected car of the future didn’t run the same if you drove it across the Canada-U.S. border.

That is why we continue to work with our American partners under what is called the Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plan.

I should note that our recent announcements regarding rail tank cars demonstrate the work Canada and the United States are accomplishing under this arrangement.

Not only does this relationship strengthen our long-term security and trade relationship, it outlines concrete measures to facilitate trade and travel, improve security and economic competitiveness, and it aligns regulatory approaches between the two countries.

Strengthening rail safety

And on the topic of rail, in addition to announcing the stronger TC-117 tank car, we’ve continued to take actions to enhance railway safety across Canada. For example, we’re working with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to conduct a joint safety study on the use of locomotive voice and video recorders – something I strongly support. 

Together we’ll explore how we can use these recorders to provide important and crucial data to accident investigators and improve safety.

Adapting to change – CTA Review

Before closing, I want to mention one more thing we are doing to proactively address the transportation changes in our future.

That is the arms-length Review of the Canada Transportation Act.

The Canada Transportation Act is Canada’s umbrella economic legislation for the national transportation system.

Its review is being led by David Emerson, former Minister of International Trade, who is supported by a strong and experienced team of advisors with diverse private-sector and public-sector experience.

These are people who – like you – know just how critical the transportation system is to Canada’s well-being.

This review is taking a long-term view — 20-30 years — of the transportation system. It is considering patterns and shifts and their implications.

You might say the review will act a bit like the connected vehicle technology I mentioned earlier – a sort of early detection system to help alert us to key trends and issues that lie ahead.

That way, we can plan for and better adapt to these changes.

I expect that some of you have been involved with the review and have made submissions, so thank you for contributing to this important process.

Mr. Emerson will submit his recommendations later this year, and I am confident that the review will have insightful recommendations to help us chart a path forward for transportation in Canada.

Conclusion

I’ve covered a lot of ground today. So let me close on this thought.

Being Minister of Transport and doing my job has two sides to it.

On one hand, it is truly inspiring.

Transportation is something whereby, in Canada, we can measure social and economic progress.

Talking about its future and thinking big ideas is something we need to do.

It has inspired explorers to travel and map our waterways.

It led to the creation of the airplane and the automobile.

And it prompted our nation’s founders to envision a ribbon of steel to connect west and east.

That said, government’s role in transportation – and my role as Minister – carries some weighty responsibility.

Responsibility for the economy, for the environment, for national security.

And for what is my top priority: safety.

Transportation is one way our society is constantly evolving, and as such, it offers us tremendous opportunity.

It can be stimulating and even inspiring to think about this opportunity and, to look to the sky.

But for those of us who regulate transportation in Canada, we must also keep our feet on the ground and consult with those who will ultimately feel the impact of our decisions.

I think most of you have heard the expression, “You can’t get there from here.”

But I am here to tell you, “Yes, we can.”

As long as we continue to think ahead and work together.

Thank you very much.