Order Fixing July 30, 2019 as the Day on which the Act Comes into Force: SI/2019-30

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 11


SI/2019-30 May 29, 2019


Order Fixing July 30, 2019 as the Day on which the Act Comes into Force

P.C. 2019-577 May 21, 2019

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to section 154 of the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, chapter 1 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019, fixes July 30, 2019 as the day on which that Act comes into force.


(This note is not part of the Order.)


To seek the Governor in Council’s approval for an order fixing the day on which the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (the WAHVA or the Act) comes into force.

The coming-into-force date of the WAHVA will be three months to the day after the Government of Canada deposits the instrument of accession to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (ICRW) at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


The objective of this Order in Council is to establish the date for the coming into force of the WAHVA.


Wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels pose hazards to the marine environment, put public health and safety at risk, represent a threat to navigation, can cause harm to local economies such as fishing and tourism industries, and are risks to marine infrastructure. Most vessel owners are responsible; they maintain and dispose of their vessels properly. However, the small percentage that are not responsible can significantly impact local communities. Cleaning up these vessels, including removal and disposal, can be expensive and the costs are too often borne by taxpayers.

In November 2016, as part of the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP), the Government of Canada announced a comprehensive National Strategy to Address Wrecked or Abandoned Vessels (National Strategy) that focuses on the prevention and removal of these problem vessels. The WAHVA is a central measure under the National Strategy.

The WAHVA aims to protect Canada’s coastal and shoreline communities by strengthening federal authorities and supporting the “polluter pay” principle by holding vessel owners responsible and liable. More specifically, the WAHVA will prohibit vessel abandonment; enable the federal government to take proactive actions on hazardous vessels; bring the ICRW into Canadian law; and consolidate numerous related provisions that are currently found within the Navigation Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA), such as provisions related to the International Convention on Salvage, 1989 (Salvage Convention) and the Receiver of Wreck (RoW).

The ICRW was tabled in Parliament on September 21, 2017, for the requisite 21—sitting-day period prior to the WAHVA being introduced on October 30, 2017.

The WAHVA consists of a preamble that provides the enacting clause, interpretation provisions and other key items necessary for the proper application of the legislation. This preambulatory part sets out the purpose of the Act, as well as the exclusions in its application, and it also defines the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Act contains 10 parts:


General implications

The coming into force of the WAHVA will provide the Government of Canada with greater authorities to prevent and address wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels in Canadian waters and in Canada’s Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). Until now, federal legislation primarily empowered the Government to address limited impacts from vessels such as oil discharges and obstructions to navigation. Under the WAHVA, the Government is empowered to take direct action on the vessel itself and address a broader range of hazards such as hazards to the environment, infrastructure, tourism or public health and safety. By prohibiting abandonment, the WAHVA also ensures that owners cannot abdicate their responsibilities by abandoning their vessel. The Act will provide the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard with powers to inspect for compliance and take enforcement measures as appropriate, including the imposition of AMPs in cases of non-compliance. For example, for minor violations, the maximum amount of an AMP is $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for companies or corporations. For serious violations, the maximum amount of an AMP is $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for companies or corporations. In addition, the Government of Canada can proceed by way of prosecution for several offences that can result in fines for individuals ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment, and fines for companies or corporations ranging from $100,000 to $6,000,000.

The Act extends heritage wreck regulation-making powers to Canadian and foreign military aircraft and vessels; these authorities also include ocean war graves following amendments brought in by the Senate of Canada.

The expanded authority under the WAHVA enables the Government to take measures to address the vessel itself and any equipment, cargo or other items from the vessel which may pose a hazard. These additional authorities support the goal of preserving the marine environment and protecting coastal communities and infrastructure as a key part of the OPP.

The Act also brings the ICRW into Canadian law. It was ratified by over 40 member states, which account for 72% of the world merchant shipping tonnage. The ICRW establishes ship owner liability for the costs of locating, marking and removing hazardous wrecks, and imposes insurance requirements on vessels weighing over 300 gross tons. It also establishes a set of international rules governing the rights and obligations of shipowners, coastal states, and flag states with respect to wrecks that result from a maritime casualty within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the member state party to the Convention (State Party). It also provides State Parties with a global regime for strict liability and compulsory insurance for wrecks. A State Party has the option to extend the ICRW to cover all ships and wrecks within its territory and territorial sea, and Canada has expressed that it will exercise this option.

Financial implications

The implementation of the WAHVA has financial implications, notably an increase in funding that is required to enable federal compliance monitoring and enforcement activities across Canada. New incremental funding has already been provided to Transport Canada and funding to set up a foundational enforcement program was provided to the Department of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard through the OPP to hire and train enforcement officers. Supplemental OPP funding has been provided to Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Small Craft Harbours Program for the removal and disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels.

Federal, provincial and territorial implications

Measures available under the legislation may require consultation with or the involvement of other levels of government when identifying risks or hazards, exchanging information (e.g. to identify owners), or remediating problem vessels. The Act also provides the federal government with the ability to delegate its powers, duties and functions to any person, including a provincial or territorial government; a local authority; or a government, council or other entity acting on behalf of an Indigenous group.


The Government of Canada has engaged with industry stakeholders, Indigenous groups, and other levels of government. Various engagement sessions were held, notably:

Throughout the above engagement activities, there was overall support for the principles of the proposed legislation, including

Parliamentary process

During the legislative process, Bill C-64 was considered by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on February 5, 2017, which reported back to the House of Commons with amendments on March 2, 2018.

In the Senate, Bill C-64 was studied by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. On December 10, 2018, the legislation was referred back to the House of Commons for concurrence of Senate amendments. On February 1, 2019, the House of Commons concurred with the Senate amendments and sent the Bill back to the Upper House for royal assent. These amendments further clarify that heritage wreck regulation-making powers extend to the wrecks of non-commercial governmental vessels, mineral exploration vessels and Canadian and foreign military vessels and aircraft, including ocean war graves.

Bill C-64 received royal assent on February 28, 2019.


For more information please contact

Marthe Yaro
Program Manager
Environmental Affairs
Transport Canada
Email: Marthe.Yaro@tc.gc.ca

Stéphanie Lajeunesse
Preparedness and Response
Canadian Coast Guard
Email: Stephanie.Lajeunesse@dfo-mpo.gc.ca