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Who provides security at the Port of Montreal?

A port is a huge, complex entity that’s always on the go. Private companies, public bodies and government agencies meet there. Cargo, crews, vessels, trains and trucks cross paths. No wonder the safety and security of the premises involve a lot of players. At the Port of Montreal, more than twenty organizations take part directly or indirectly, regularly or occasionally, in maintaining order and security. Here they are:

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Reporting to the United Nations (UN), the IMO issued the International Ship and Port Security Code for the security of ships and port facilities. It is then up to each State to develop its laws and regulations to apply the code on its territory.  The Port of Montreal was the first Canadian port to be accredited by the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code, in 2004.
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Transport Canada - Security

This is the federal ministry responsible for developing and applying national standards and regulations, including the Marine Transportation Security Regulations, which meets Canada’s obligations to implement the International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities. This means it provides the legislative framework to detect security threats and take measures to prevent security incidents that could affect marine vessels and port facilities. In particular, it sets out the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in developing and implementing security plans. Transport Canada is also responsible for conducting background checks on employees who require security clearance before issuing them an access card to port territory. The Port of Montreal was the first Canadian port to comply with Transport Canada’s Transportation Security Clearance Program.  
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RCMP – National Port Enforcement Teams (NPETs)

The RCMP is the jurisdictional body responsible for applying federal laws in all Canadian ports, including laws on smuggling, illegal drugs, immigration and national security.

The RCMP investigates violations of federal laws without preventing the free flow of goods, people and services. Its goal is to significantly counteract the activities of organized crime groups and undermine their ability to use ports to bring in cargo and people that may pose a threat to national security. Its work is based on shared intelligence and cooperation among the federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies.
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Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

CBSA is responsible for authorizing, inspecting and controlling all imported and exported international goods that go through port territory. The agency implements more than 90 laws, regulations and international agreements.

CBSA controls and validates 100% of declarations before containers are loaded aboard a vessel overseas. When containers arrive at the Port of Montreal, documentation for all containers is verified, and 100% of containers are scanned by radiation detectors.

CBSA uses non-intrusive imaging technology, X-rays, to inspect the contents of containers. If anomalies are detected, a thorough check will be carried out at the inspection centre located near the port. Sometimes, certain containers are sent immediately to the centre.

Only CBSA knows the contents of containers transiting through the port, aside from the importer and the exporter. Neither the MPA nor the terminal operators, the carriers or the workers have access to this information.
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Montreal Port Authority (MPA)

The MPA is the jurisdictional body responsible for maintaining order and providing safety and security for people and goods on all port territory. The MPA issues passes for restricted areas in accordance with Transport Canada’s rules and verifications governing probity and criminal record background checks.

Safety and security plans cover the following aspects: surveillance, monitoring, guidelines, restricted areas and response plans. The MPA inspects the terminals and port buildings, and issues hot-work permits on vessels and in terminals. It verifies the transport, handling and storage of regulated materials at all sites. Some regulated cargos require an inspector to be present during loading and unloading, following standardized inspection procedures, as well as when handling a designated product. When non-compliance occurs, the MPA has the power to refuse to allow a loading, an unloading or a delivery.

For greater efficiency, the MPA is responsible for ensuring cooperation and collaboration among various stakeholders on its territory.

Facilities/operators in the port

Terminal operators are organizations located on MPA territory, in business to transship goods. They are responsible for implementing and enforcing safety and security measures on the terminal in accordance with applicable laws and regulations as well as the MPA’s requirements. More specifically, they ensure access control, surveillance and monitoring, and all entry/exit operations of goods on their territory.

Sureté du Québec (SQ) Police Force

Provincial police organization with jurisdiction over waterways outside Montreal and at the facilities in Tracy.

City of Montreal police department (SPVM)

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal is the municipal police organization with jurisdiction over MPA territory on the Island of Montreal and surrounding waterways

MRC Richelieu-Saint-Laurent Police Department

This is the municipal police organization with jurisdiction over MPA territory at Contrecœur.

Canadian National Railway Police Service

This is the private police department enforcing criminal and provincial laws on  CN-owned railroads and trains.

Canadian Pacific Railway Police Service

This is the private police department enforcing criminal and provincial laws on  CP-owned railroads and trains.

City of Montreal fire department (SIM)

The Service de sécurité incendie Montréal is responsible for operations at the scene of fires and spills of regulated materials on the territory of the Island of Montreal.

Contrecœur fire department

The Service incendie de Contrecoeur is responsible for operations at the scene of fires and spills of regulated materials on the territory of Contrecœur.

Canadian Coast Guard

Jurisdictional body responsible for navigation on inland waterways (marine traffic, search and rescue and marine spills).

Transport Canada Ship Safety

Jurisdictional body responsible for the navigability and compliance of ships.

Transports Canada Dangerous Materials

Jurisdictional body responsible for the handling, storage and transportation of hazardous materials

Environment Canada

Jurisdictional body responsible for environmental matters on the MPA's territory.

Health Canada

Jurisdictional body responsible for infectious diseases and quarantines.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Jurisdictional body responsible for the import and export of food and materials used for packaging and transport. 

Immigration Canada

Jurisdictional body responsible for the arrival of visitors and workers, which more specifically includes visas for sailors, stowaways and asylum seekers. 

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Federal jurisdictional body responsible for the workplace health and safety of port workers. 

Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST)

Provincial jurisdictional body responsible for the workplace health and safety of subcontracted workers on MPA territory.

Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)

Provincial jurisdictional body responsible for road transport.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Federal jurisdictional body responsible for accidents involving ships.

Collaborative agreements

The MPA has reached several collaborative agreements with such organizations as the Canadian Coast Guard (search and rescue), Transport Canada (regulated materials), Environment Canada (spills), Health Canada (quarantines), the Quebec ministry of transport (IT networks), Canada Border Services Agency (container inspection centre) and the City of Montreal (911 central, response during fires aboard ships, emergency radio communication system).

Port safety and security are more than a business matter

  • It is also a matter of national security, as it must ensure coordination and cooperation of law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and organized crime.  
  • The same applies to the proper functioning of the important continental gateway that port infrastructure represents.
  • It is also a matter of industrial and national security, a major and constant concern for our clients and partners.
  • It is a matter of corporate responsibility to the people living near the port.
  • It is a matter of national economics, as the port is an important economic engine.
  • It is a political and economic matter because the proper functioning of the port helps maintain our good business relations with the United States, which is the destination or point of origin of 25 to 30% of cargo transiting the Port of Montreal.