Freight transport law is complex, insofar as it is made up of both provincial and federal laws. The transportation of people and goods, as well as transport by road, rail, sea, or air, are governed by these laws. When freight is transported, what are the laws with which this transport must comply? And what are the latest changes in this area?

Road Transport

The transportation of freight by road is governed by numerous regulations, including:

  • The Transportation of Dangerous Substances Regulation. The carrier must meet specific requirements when transporting substances referred to as dangerous: classifications, containers, danger indications, employee training, documentation, respect for safety rules and standards, and mandatory possession of a permit.
  • Carriers who transport fuel in bulk in quantities greater than 200 litres must hold a permit, comply with the provisions of the Fuel Tax Act, keep a manifest in the vehicle during transport, keep records detailing all the transactions carried out, and submit to audits by Revenu Québec.
  • The transportation of biomedical waste requires certificates of authorization as well as compliance with specific standards. Vehicles must contain a holding tank, a suitable refrigeration system, and compartments that are easy to wash and disinfect, since this operation must be repeated during each unloading, both inside and outside the vehicle.
  • The transportation of dairy products must be carried out in a vehicle entirely dedicated to this purpose, and the carrier must hold a permit.
  • Carriers who transport tobacco are required to hold a permit, keep a manifest in the vehicle, and keep records.
  • The transportation of raw timber from forests in the domain of the State is governed by the Regulation Respecting Forest Transport Contracts.

In addition to the regulations and laws specific to certain products, all drivers must comply with the Regulation Respecting the Hours of Driving and Rest of Heavy Vehicle Drivers, which limits their working time to ensure safer road transport.

In December 2017, a new regulation was adopted, requiring new tractor trucks to be equipped with electronic stability control.

Other Modes of Transport

Rail transport

In Québec, two laws govern rail transport:

The Railway Act: This act stipulates that each rail carrier must possess a certificate of fitness issued by the Commission des transports du Québec in order to operate. This act is accompanied by the Regulation Respecting Rail Transportation, which determines the amounts of insurance that carriers transporting dangerous goods must hold.

The Act to Ensure Safety in Guided Land Transport and the Regulation Respecting Rail Safety, which accompanies it, specify the conditions of carriage for dangerous substances. In 2016, the enhanced rail liability and compensation regime entered into force, which aims to better regulate the transport of dangerous substances.

Air transport

The transport of goods by air is governed by the Carriage by Air Act and its schedules.

Maritime transport

Maritime transport is regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which entered into force in 1994, and its various regulations. The new Arctic Shipping Safety and Pollution Prevention Regulations from January 2018 contain a series of measures concerning the design and equipment of ships, their operation, and the training of the crews.

The different modes of freight transport are each subject to their own provincial and federal laws, which are themselves subject to periodic changes. The transport of dangerous goods is subject to special provisions, whether these goods are transported by road, rail, ship, or plane.