Operation Lifesaver Funding to Continue

OTTAWA - Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre today announced continued funding of $1.25 million over five years for Operation Lifesaver, a national public education program dedicated to reducing rail crossing collisions and trespassing incidents on railway property. The Operation Lifesaver program is jointly funded by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada.

"Although the number of railway crossing collisions and fatalities across Canada has declined over the past decade, the Government of Canada continues to seek opportunities to further improve the system's safety," said Mr. Lapierre. "Operation Lifesaver provides an excellent opportunity for us to work with Canada's railways to reduce the number of railway crossing and trespassing incidents."

Operation Lifesaver was created in 1981 and works in cooperation with the Canada Safety Council, provincial and territorial safety councils and leagues, railway companies, unions, police, and public and community groups to reduce fatalities, injuries and damage caused by crossing collisions and trespassing incidents. To date, both Transport Canada and Canada's railways have provided approximately $8 million in funding for this program.

"Today's announcement will help Operation Lifesaver and its stakeholders deliver new safety initiatives to reduce risk along freight and passenger railways in urban and rural communities across Canada. Road and rail traffic are both growing, and this program is successful in helping save lives and reducing injuries. The federal government's ongoing support for Operation Lifesaver is appreciated," said Bruce R. Burrows, Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Association of Canada.

The program's staff and volunteers have designed a number of presentations geared to specific age groups to help people of all ages be aware of the dangers around railway tracks. Approximately 2,000 presentations are delivered annually across Canada by over 500 certified volunteer presenters - to schools, youth clubs, driver associations and community groups. In addition, Operation Lifesaver volunteers spread the rail safety message to a wider public by organizing awareness events such as collision simulations at rail crossings and safety displays at shopping malls and other community facilities.

In 2004, there were 237 crossing collisions across Canada, 25 fatalities and 50 serious injuries. There were also 99 trespasser incidents, including 67 fatalities and 34 serious injuries.
Transport Canada also promotes safety at crossings and trespassing prevention through the Direction 2006 program. This initiative is a partnership between Transport Canada and other levels of government, railway companies, public safety organizations, police, unions and community groups.

Direction 2006's public information and education campaign focuses on changing people's perception of risk to their own safety and their personal behaviour involving railway tracks and trains. The program's primary objective is to reduce crossing collisions and trespassing incidents across Canada by 50 per cent by 2006.

The renewal funding for the Operation Lifesaver initiative was provided for in the existing financial framework.

Contact Information:

Irène Marcheterre
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister, Ottawa
(613) 991-0700

Cathy Cossaboom
Transport Canada, Ottawa
(613) 993-0055