In case of an oil spill, the National Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime is implemented. This unique regime is based on responsibility sharing between the industry and Transport Canada. It is financed and managed by the private sector but regulated by the federal government and the Canada Shipping Act. Its goal is to ensure that the marine industry has the required capacity to clean up its own spills.

Ships and oil handling facilities must make contractual arrangements with a Response Organization (RO) certified by Transport Canada. In Quebec, the certified RO is the Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC). Ship owners transporting oil must sign a contract with the ECRC for coverage in case of an emergency. Every three years, response organizations must renew their certification with Transport Canada, thus confirming their ability to respond in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

What is ECRC?

ECRC, or Eastern Canada Response Corporation, is a response organization certified by Transport Canada. ECRC’s specialized technicians are mandated to intervene quickly in case of an oil spill in order to minimize environmental impacts. They act quickly to contain and clean the site.

  • Management society made up of oil companies
  • Provides maritime intervention services in case of spill
  • Covers the Great Lakes region, Quebec and the Atlantic region
  • Provides marine oil spill response services, when requested, to the “responsible party”, the Canadian Coast Guard or any other government lead agency

In case of an oil spill, key players have a well-defined role:

Transport Canada
  • Regulates, monitors and oversees the marine industry’s responsibilities

    Photo credit: Louis Rhéaume
    Photo credit: Louis Rhéaume
  • Certifies and inspects Canada’s Response Organizations
  • Inspects oil handling facilities and reviews Oil Pollution Emergency Plans and vessels’ Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans
  • Oversees exercises and training of spill response personnel
  • Inspects vessels in order to verify their compliance with applicable national and international requirements
Canadian Coast Guard
  • Ensures an appropriate ship-source response
  • Has authority to play the role of On-scene Commander if the polluter is unknown, unwilling or unable to respond
  • Maintains the National Contingency Plan, regional and local response plans
Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Provide timely, accessible science-based advice on environmental sensitivities, weather forecasts, oil fate and behavior, response actions and environmental clean-up
Ship owners and other polluters
  • Develop Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans
  • Make contractual arrangements with Response Organizations
  • Provide crew training
  • Report pollution incidents
Provincial and territorial governments
  • Play an important role in supporting preparedness and response, for example, through integration with emergency management plans and associated spheres such as waste and wildlife management, and public communications.

Learn more about roles and responsibilities in case of a spill