In January 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications delivered a report on the regulatory and technical issues related to autonomous vehicles in Canada. Working with evidence provided by industry stakeholders, automakers, lawyers and police, the Committee provided recommendations regarding the federal government’s role in the arrival of autonomous vehicle technologies in Canada.

The report suggests that Canada may not be ready for widespread autonomous vehicle use, and outlined a number of the following key recommendations to help prepare the nation for a successful autonomous vehicle strategy:

Federal Leadership
The committee urged that proactive leadership will be necessary in order to bring together provincial, municipal and cross-border governmental stakeholders. To facilitate this leadership the committee recommended:

  • The creation of a joint policy unit between Transport Canada and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada to coordinate federal efforts and implement a national strategy on automated and connected vehicles.
  • The engagement of provincial, territorial and municipal governments through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to develop a model provincial policy.
  • To work with the U.S. through the regulatory Cooperation Council to ensure that autonomous vehicles operate seamlessly in both countries.

Vehicle Safety
The federal government is responsible for safety standard regulations in Canada. Although autonomous vehicles may have safety benefits, it was noted that these vehicles actually have to work and be operated safely. To ensure vehicle safety, it was recommended:

  • That Transport Canada urgently develop vehicle safety guidelines on autonomous vehicles. The guidelines should identify design aspects for industry to consider when developing, testing and deploying such vehicles on Canadian roads. The guidelines should also be updated regularly to keep pace with the evolution of automated and connected vehicle technology.

As a topic of pressing and substantial concern, the following recommendations were made to mitigate the uncertainty of how autonomous vehicles will be connected:

  • Transport Canada, in cooperation with the Communications Security Establishment and Public Safety Canada, develop cybersecurity guidance for the transportation sector based on best practices and recognized cybersecurity principles. This guidance should also include advice on equipment, replacement equipment, and software updates; and
  • Transport Canada, in cooperation with the Communications Security Establishment, Public Safety Canada, and industry stakeholders, address cybersecurity issues, establish a real-time crisis connect network, and provide regular reports on their progress.

Privacy concerns were raised over the potential data collected by autonomous vehicle technologies and how that data would be used. As part of a national strategy towards autonomous vehicles and privacy, it was recommended:

  • That the Government of Canada table legislation in order to empower the Privacy Commissioner to investigate proactively and enforce industry compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act,
  • That the Government of Canada continue to assess the need for privacy regulations specifically for connected cars and autonomous vehicles; and
  • That Transport Canada bring together relevant stakeholders including governments, automakers, and consumer, develop a connected car framework with privacy protection as a key driver.

Data Access and Competition
Due to the potential reliance on access to data for certain industries to remain competitive, it was recommended as part of a national strategy:

  • That Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to monitor the impact of autonomous vehicles on competition between various sectors of the automotive and mobility industries, in order to ensure that sectors such as the aftermarket and car rental companies continue to have access to the data they need to offer their services.

Research and Development
The federal government plays an important role in research and development, as Canada is home to the second largest technology cluster in North America. Since the federal government has the resources to encourage the research and development of autonomous vehicles, it was recommended:

  • The Government of Canada increase its investments in the research and development of autonomous vehicles, through a new Innovative and Intelligent Mobility Research and Test Centre. Such center is to be located at the existing Motor Vehicle Test Centre in Blainville, Quebec. In addition to ensuring that these vehicles are tested in a mix of urban, rural and cold environments, consideration should be given to projects focused on cybersecurity and privacy.
  • That Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada work with Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada (NCE), which funds partnerships between universities, industry, government, and not-for-profit organisations, to create large-scale research networks and reconsider the rule requiring that these networks close down at the end of NCE program funding.

Insurance, Infrastructure and Public Transit
To prepare for the impact that autonomous vehicles are expected to have on automotive insurance, infrastructure and public transit, it was recommended:

  • That Transport Canada monitor the impact of autonomous vehicle technologies on the automobile insurance, infrastructure and public transit sectors.

Employment and Education
The adoption of autonomous vehicles is anticipated to result in changes to employment across many sectors. In preparation for this change, it was recommended:

  • That Employment and Social Development Canada continue to work closely with the provinces and territories in order to strengthen retraining, skills upgrading and employment support for Canadians facing labor market disruption; and
  • That Public Safety Canada and the Communications Security Establishment work closely with the provinces and territories to develop cybersecurity training materials and programs to improve public understanding of cybersecurity issues.


As a member of the TechAssure network, the above was provided by de Fazekas, A & Barbieri, F Autonomous Vehicles – Canada (Norton Rose Fulbright, 2018).