2007 was a rewarding year for the Agency and also one of significant change. We introduced reforms to better manage our workload and improve our services to clients and stakeholders, and we implemented processes to better manage our budget resources. On the people side, we saw a complete turnover of appointed Members and the retirement of many colleagues who had been with the Agency for many years.
The most profound change was the organizational renewal initiative that reviewed how we do our work, how we are organized and how we manage our people and budget resources. This initiative was designed to meet a number of challenges head on:
The anticipated loss of one third of our workforce to retirement over the next three years.
An increasing number of complex dispute cases.
New legislative responsibilities.
The need for more efficient workload management.
Total Number of New Cases by Fiscal Year
The most striking feature of this renewal is a new organizational structure, which marks the first significant change to the Agency's branches and directorates in 15 years.
Two new Agency branches have been created to reflect a redefinition of our primary business functions, namely Dispute Resolution and Industry Regulation and Determinations. The Agency's long-established, specialized modal expertise housed in the previous Air and Accessible, as well as Rail and Marine branches are integrated into both new branches.
The new "hybrid" organizational structure will enable us to not only improve our service delivery, it will provide us with the flexibility to resolve workload challenges and enhance our ability to respond to increasingly complex cases in a more efficient and timely way.
A key part of this new structure is the creation of a permanently staffed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) unit. Experience has shown that ADR, such as mediation, requires fewer resources, tends to be a faster process, and benefits disputing parties by giving them a chance to reach a solution on their own terms.
The new structure will also provide our employees with a greater variety of work, greater mobility in terms of moving to different positions, and greater learning and career development opportunities.
While this new structure represents an important step towards renewing the Agency, it is by no means the only step. To ensure that we continue providing a superior level of service, we will also be dealing proactively with recruitment and retention, succession planning, training and knowledge transfer. Further, we will be fostering a culture of innovation, risk-taking, and flexibility.
Through these actions we will continue to succeed in providing real and tangible benefits to the people we serve and the national transportation system, and also build upon our long-standing reputation as a leading Canadian tribunal.
The public service today is facing the imminent retirement of an entire generation of workers. At present, almost 60 percent of public service employees are over the age of 45. The demographics of aging are even more pronounced in the executive ranks.
These demographic realities are particularly relevant to the Agency, as one third of our employees will be eligible to retire in the next 3 years. To simply replenish our ranks, we will need to recruit a large number of new employees over the next few years.
To address our recruitment challenge the Agency will promote itself as a workplace of choice to potential recruits, as an organization that touches the lives of Canadians in meaningful ways, fosters innovation and creates opportunities for professional development.
In the summer of 2007, amendments to the Canada Transportation Act gave the Agency a stronger and broader mandate. For example, amendments to the Act have now entrenched the Agency's authority to mediate disputes within its jurisdiction as an alternative to its formal adjudication process.
The Agency now has the authority to resolve noise and vibration complaints caused by public passenger service providers and the construction or operation of railways under federal jurisdiction. The legislative changes have also formally eliminated the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner's position and complaint resolution functions have now been integrated into the Agency's operations.
These amendments, and many others, have significantly increased the Agency's responsibilities and demand for the services we provide.
Increasing Demand for Accessible Transportation
Senior citizens are one of the fastest growing groups in Canada. There are about 4.3 million seniors in Canada right now, and this number is expected to rise by 80% to 7.8 million by 2026. That's one out of every five Canadians. As our population ages and the rate of physical disability increases, the demand for accessible transportation will be even greater. Our priority is to ensure that we are able to effectively fulfill our mandate of removing undue obstacles to persons with disabilities who travel by air, rail and ferry in the national transportation network.
Senior Population in Canada
Outreach and Two-Way Communications
Canadians want a meaningful role in governance. To facilitate this, government organizations need to build new relationships with citizens and stakeholders. Education and consultation with our stakeholders are integral to our ability to effectively carry out our mandate. We will continue to build on outreach and two-way dialogue with those we serve in our society.