This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Evaluation of the Services to Marine Transportation Sub-activity


2.1 Program Profile

The activities that take place under EC's SMT SA have a long history within the Department, but the introduction of the 2010-11 Program Activity Architecture (PAA) was the first time that they were identified as a unique element contributing to the Department's strategic outcomes.

EC's SMT sub-activity provides marine users with information and warnings to support decision making for marine activities and related threats to safety. It serves the needs of maritime communities, and supports Canada's obligations in providing safety information to international marine traffic. EC's SMT SA comprises two main activities: the provision of marine weather information and the provision of ice information.

Marine Weather Information

The provision of marine weather information includes marine forecasts and marine warnings. The marine forecast includes the provision of regularly issued short-term (Day 1 and 2) and extended (Day 3 to 5) extended marine forecasts, as well as several other products--including a wave height forecast and a recreational boating forecast, among others. Marine warnings include warnings of ongoing weather conditions and extreme weather events that pose a threat to life and property at sea, such as strong winds, freezing spray, high coastal waters, squall lines and other localized phenomena for the offshore economic zone, including the St. Lawrence Seaway and major inland waters. The criteria for issuing weather warnings are based on national standards, though they may be interpreted regionally to account for regional climatology.3 Providing this information involves the work of research, monitoring, prediction, and service delivery functions within the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), with support from the Science and Technology Branch (S&T Branch) and Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB).

In addition to the atmospheric monitoring infrastructure employed in support of overall weather predictions, marine weather data also originate from a network of marine buoys, automated coastal stations, automated ship-borne weather stations, lighthouses, and volunteer observers aboard ships. Satellite data from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are used to monitor marine winds as well as ice and iceberg formation.4

Marine forecast and warning services are delivered through mass communication media such as radio, television, newspapers and the Internet, as well as targeted communications conduits such as Weatheradio, automated telephone answering devices, and the Continuous Marine Broadcast (provided by the Canadian Coast Guard [CCG]). There are also distribution relationships with national and regional media distributors and local emergency measures organizations.5

Ice Information

The second area of activity for the SMT SA is the provision of ice information, which is delivered as a partnership between the MSC's Canadian Ice Service (CIS) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) (specifically the CCG). The CIS is responsible for providing ice information, and the CCG is responsible for ice management. The CIS is structured into three units, responsible for: ice reconnaissance and field services; forecast operations; and applied science.6 The SMT SA supports the activities of the icebreaking program of the CCG, which include escorting ships through ice-covered waters, freeing vessels beset in ice, conducting harbour breakouts, providing advice and ice information, and reducing the risk of flooding on the St. Lawrence River through monitoring, prevention and breaking up of ice jams.7 The partnership between the CIS and the CCG is directed in part through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Partnership Agreement with DFO for services related to ice conditions over Canadian navigable waters.

Services under this activity support marine industries and other interests operating in Canadian waters, such as organizations involved in shipping, fisheries and resource extraction. Individuals and groups working in these industries are required to make tactical decisions (e.g., on ship routing) needed to maximize their effectiveness and safety. As a key collaborator, the CCG broadcasts ice information produced by ECto interested parties and provides in-situ weather and sea-state information to EC.

As described in the Partnership Agreement:

Information about ice conditions allows Canadians to make decisions concerning their activities in the vicinity of ice. Ice management with ice routing advice and icebreaker services allows ships to travel through heavy ice and prevents flooding as a result of ice jams. This program provides marine industries and regulatory agencies with forecasts of the sea state, ice conditions and weather, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Environment Canada delivers the information component of the program because of its scientific and technical expertise in developing environmental information, while the CCG delivers the management component because of its expertise in marine transportation and ship operations.8

EC is also a member of the North American Ice Service (NAIS). The NAIS is a collaborative undertaking between the MSC, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. The NAIS furthers navigation safety and informed decision-making through the provision of common ice–information products and services for North American and global waters.9Through this collaborative arrangement, the CIS,10 the National Ice Center11 and the International Ice Patrol12 are developing a common production system to develop a suite of harmonized ice information products and services to be shared between member organizations at no charge. Canadian contributions to this common production system come from the CIS Ice Service Integrated System.13

Legal and Statutory Commitments

Legal and statutory responsibilities for the SMT SA include the Department of the Environment Act and Oceans Act. The SMT SA also supports international commitments to the United Nations Convention on Safety of Lives at Sea, NAIS, NOAA, and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). International bodies in which the CISparticipates as a contributing member include the WMO Joint Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, and the International Ice Charting Working Group.14

2.2 Governance Structure

Within EC, the delivery of the SMTSA is performed by the MSC, the organizational branch with responsibility for producing and disseminating weather and environmental information, including that related to ice. The MSC also relies on the Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate (ASTD) of the S&T Branch as a key contributor to meteorological research and development, and the CIOB for activities related to information management and information technology.

Management oversight of these activities is provided by the Weather and Environmental Services (WES) Board, a senior departmental committee composed of Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) and Regional Directors General. Additionally, a new Marine and Ice Program Management Board has recently been formed. This board is composed of directors representing all groups delivering the marine transportation business line, and reports to the Director General of Weather and Environmental Prediction Services (WEPS).

Other committees and working groups supporting the delivery of the SMTSA include:

  • the Prediction Committee, which is responsible for cross-cutting operational program delivery issues;
  • the Prediction Centre Heads, who are the regional and national prediction managers responsible for delivering on operational requirements;
  • the Marine & Ice Programs Working Group, which is composed of representatives from national and regional offices delivering marine and ice services, including collaborators in monitoring, CIOB, dissemination and science; this working group oversees program changes and makes recommendations to the Marine and Ice Program Management Board;
  • the Standards Working Group (SWG), which coordinates the development, implementation and application of standards to ensure consistent delivery of the MSC's products and services, including standards related to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) requirements;
  • the Services Coordination and Management Committee, the senior committee to the SWG, coordinates the management of WES service activities, including coordinating responses to, and developing solutions of a national scope for, the marine weather program, as well as the programs for public weather, climate services, hydrometric information services, health sector services, economic sector services and commercial services.

2.3 Resource Allocation

The table below (Table 1) provides information on SMT SA expenditures from 2007–08 to 2010-11. The figures represent expenditures from the three branches involved in delivery of the SMT SA activities, i.e., the MSC, CIOB and the S&T Branch.

Table 1: Annual Financial Expenditures for 2.2.2 Services to Marine Transportation – 2007-2009 (text description)
Financial Expenditure2007-082008-09


Table 1: Annual Financial Expenditures for 2.2.2 Services to Marine Transportation – 2009-2011 (text description)
Financial Expenditure2009-102010-11

* Full-time equivalents
** Operations and maintenance
*** Vote–netted revenue
**** Numbers are shown in $000s (except FTEs)

2.4 Regional Delivery of Services

Given the different regional needs (e.g., there is no need for a forecast for international mariners on Manitoba lakes), marine weather and ice information service delivery differs from region to region. The following table provides a high-level overview of the program's various services delivered in each EC region.

Table 2: SMT Service by Region15 (text description)
Program ServicesPacific CoastManitoba LakesHudson, Mackenzie and Arctic WatersGreat LakesSt. LawrenceAtlantic Coast
Short-term forecastXXXXXX
Weather warningsXXXXXX
Extended forecastXXXXXX
Technical marine synopsisX XXXX
Marine weather statementXXXXXX
Wave–height forecastX X16XXX
NAVTEX forecast (for international mariners in Canadian waters)X XXXX
Ice hazard bulletins  XXXX
Recreational boating marine forecast   X X
MAFOR forecast (internationally standardized version of the regular forecast, mainly for shipping industry)   XX 

2.5 Program Results Chain

Table 3 (below) is a representation of the marine transportation service activities and intended outputs and outcomes. This results chain was adapted from PAA element descriptions, the departmental Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) for 2010-11, and results from evaluation scoping interviews. It should be noted that the outputs and outcomes were developed for this evaluation by the ECevaluation team, because there was no finalized logic model and the PMF was in its initial phase prior to the evaluation. There was some concern expressed by SMTmanagement at the onset of the evaluation that the indicators may not be adequately aligned with SMT services and activities, and that management may not be able to collect the required data.

Table 3: Services to Marine Transportation Program Results Chain (text description)


  1. Ice research
  2. Marine weather warnings, forecasts and information
  3. Ice warnings, forecasts and information


  1. Ice information products
    1. Ice charts and forecasts
    2. Warnings
    3. Regional charts
    4. Short- and long-term forecasts
    5. Iceberg bulletins and charts
  2. Ice information field services
    1. In situ ice information expertise
  3. Marine weather forecasts
  4. Marine weather warnings

Potential Reach / Target Clients

  • Industry: Shipping / marine transportation, commercial fishing, tourism, recreation, energy, construction
  • Federal Partners/Clients: DFO/CCG, Transport Canada (TC), Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), CSA
  • Provincial and Territorial Collaborators/Clients
  • Coastal Communities
  • International: United Nations Convention on the Safety of Lives at Sea, NAIS, NOAA, WMO, International Maritime Organization (IMO)


  • Increased access by target clients to accurate, timely and user-friendly weather and ice information products and services
  • Increased use of weather and ice information products and services by target clients to reduce their risks of operating in a hazardous environment
  • Reduced number of emergency interventions (by emergency response teams and/or CCG) due to marine weather or ice
  • Reduced unexpected delays encountered by commercial marine transports due to marine weather or ice

PAAOutcome: Element 2.2.2

Marine communities have the weather, wave and ice information they need to operate safely and efficiently in Canadian waters

PAAOutcome: Element 2.2

Targeted sectors routinely integrate weather and climate information into their operations

Departmental Strategic Outcome

Canadians are equipped to make informed decisions on changing weather, water and climate conditions

3. For example, the national standard for a gale is considered as 34 knots per hour or more, though there may be slight differences in interpretation across regions as to when the threshold of 34 knots is passed.

4. CSA. 2007. "RADARSAT Constellation."

5. EC. n.d. Environment Canada's Marine and Ice Warning and Forecast Programs. Internal document.

6. EC and DFO. 2005. Ice Information Services Partnership Agreement (IISPA) Between the Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaking Program of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Ice Service of Environment Canada.

7. CCG. 2010. Levels of Service, p. 16.

8. EC and DFO. 2005. IISPA.

9. EC and the NOAA. 2007. Amendment 1 to the North American Ice Service: Annex 2 to the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Meteorological Service of Canada of Environment Canada on Cooperation in Environmental Data Acquisition and Utilization.

10. Canadian Ice Service

11. National Ice Center

12. Navigation Center

13. North American Ice Service. 2009. Polaris Technology Collaboration Plan for the NAIS Common Production System, version 1.2.

14. EC and DFO. 2005. IISPA.

15. Data obtained from EC marine and ice information regional brochures.

16. Wave forecasts are provided for Eastern Hudson Bay and James Bay. Wave forecasts for the Arctic Waters, Mackenzie and Western Hudson Bay will be available in 2012.

Date modified: