Transport Canada is the federal government department responsible for the regulation and administration of transportation policies, programs and services to promote the safety and efficiency of the national transportation system. The Department was established in 1936 as a consolidation of the Department of Railways and Canals, the Department of Marine, and the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence. It is now responsible for aeronautics, navigation, shipping facilities, motor vehicles, ferries, railways and canals connecting provinces or connecting provinces with a foreign country.
As of 1 April 1997, Transport Canada adopted a new organization. By commercializing and divesting airports, the air navigation system, and ports and harbours, and by transferring the Canadian Coast Guard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada has moved away from direct involvement in the transportation system. Although it will no longer own, operate or subsidize large parts of the system, the department will continue to develop legislation to maintain safety and security.
The department's Policy Group is responsible for setting and implementing policies related to rail, marine, highways, motor carriers and air transportation as well as assessing performance and funding rail and passenger service (through VIA RAIL) and ferry services.
The Safety and Security Group establishes and maintains standards and regulations necessary for the safety and security of civil aviation, marine, rail and road.
The Programs and Divestiture Group is responsible for the transfer of ports, harbours and airports to communities; overseeing operations of divested facilities; operating federally-owned remote airports, ports and harbours; and administering environmental, technical and real property management. The group's administrative duties also include Transport Canada's funded programs such as the Airports Capital Assistance Program, the Port Divestiture Fund and federal-provincial highways and bridges.
The estimated spending for Transport Canada in 1996-97 was $1.7 billion.