Our mandate

For 30 years, the Fund has been mandated to compensate victims of oil pollution damage (including costs incurred for preventive measures) caused by ships and then take action to recover the costs from the polluters or other responsible parties.

  • Simply put, we receive and assess claims for any type of damage caused by any type of oil spilled by any class of ship or boat in Canadian waters.

Summary of 30 years of compensating victims of oil pollution from ships

Impacts of the 2018 modifications to the Marine Liability Act on the Fund

Recent legislative amendments to the Marine Liability Act (MLA) to modernize the Fund came into force in December 2018. They provide for:

  • The removal of the Fund’s per-occurrence limit of liability (which was $174 million);
  • The authorization to temporary transfer funds from the Consolidated Revenue to the Fund in the event that the Fund is depleted;
  • The alignment with international conventions of the Fund’s liability for claims for economic losses (notably losses of revenue) caused by oil pollution;
  • The Fund’s liability for the costs and expenses incurred by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or any other person in respect of preventive measures when the occurrence for which those costs and expenses were incurred has not yet created a grave and imminent threat of causing oil pollution damage;
  • The provision of up-front emergency funding out of the Fund to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for significant oil pollution incidents;
  • An expedited, simplified process for small claims (up to $35,000) to the Fund.

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The Canadian Compensation Regime

Canada flag and the IOPC Funds logo

The Canadian Compensation Regime for ship-source oil pollution damage is based on the polluter-pays principle as well as on many international conventions. It covers damage caused by oil pollution (or anticipated pollution) in Canadian waters (including the exclusive economic zone), as long as the pollution emanates from an identified or unidentified ship or vessel.

Role of the Fund

The Fund may be used as a fund of last resort or of first resort; the choice is that of the claimant.

Fund of Last Resort. The claimant may file a claim against the owner of the ship responsible for oil pollution damage (up to the owner’s limit of liability) and can then submit to the Fund a claim for compensation for damages or for a portion of damages that haven’t been reimbursed to him (this could be due to the fact that the limit exceeded the owner’s liability limit, or because the owner was not financially solvent to compensate the claimant).

Fund of First Resort. The claimant may submit his claim directly to the Fund. The Administrator has the obligation of investigating and assessing the claim. If the claim is established, the Administrator will offer a settlement to the claimant, who will then have 60 days to accept the offer.

2018-2019 File Portfolio (Incidents & Claims)

A record year in the number of assessments performed and in the amounts granted.

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the Fund managed a portfolio of 89 files, 72 claim files (25 new claims and 47 carried over from 2017-2018), and 17 incident files (3 new incidents and 14 carried over from 2017-2018).

Contributors to the regime

The contributors to the regime are the oil shippers and receivers in Canada. Contributors have not paid contributions since 1976 as the Fund is fully capitalized.

Contributors who are oil receivers must however file an information return no later than February 28 if the volume of contributing cargo for the preceding calendar year exceeded

  • 150,000 metric tonnes of persistent oil, or
  • 17,000 metric tonnes of non-persistent oil

(refer to Marine Liability and Information Return Regulations: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-307/index.html)

This information return allows to determine Canada’s annual contribution to the International Fund and Supplementary Fund (this contribution is then paid directly by the Fund’s Administrator). It also allows Canada to collect the data needed in order to ratify the Convention on Hazardous and Noxious Substances.

Information returns should be filed via the portal https://stats.tc.gc.ca/HNS/Login.aspx, which is managed by Transport Canada.

Before filing their return, contributors must request the creation of an account by contacting the following address: TC.HNS-SNPD.TC@tc.gc.ca.

How to File a Claim

Our Claims Manual is currently being revised.