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Canadian producer groups happy with introduction of Bill C-49

Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced the legislation May 16

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, in the House of Commons on May 16, much to the delight of Canadian farm organizations.

“It is clear that farmer voices have been heard,” Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada, said in a May 19 statement. “Grain farmers have been vocal throughout the consultation that we need increased competitiveness and reliability in grain shipping. Many of the proposed legislative changes in the Act will go a long way to providing long-term remedies to inherent problems with the current system.”

“It’s been several years of intense work to achieve some of these milestones,” Rick White, CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, said in a May 18 release. “At first glance, C-49 appears to address many of the reforms that farmers have been asking for, while striking a balance between the needs of shippers and the railways.”

The Act includes the following measures:

  • New reporting requirements for railways on rates, service and performance,
  • Long Haul Interswitching to provide captive shippers across Canada with access to a competing railway to ensure they have options,
  • A definition of “adequate and suitable” rail service that confirms railways should provide shippers with the highest level of service that can reasonably be provided in the circumstances and
  • The ability for shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements with railways.

Minister Garneau is confident his legislation balances the needs of producers with those of railways.

“We have an ambitious plan to secure long-term stability and success in Canada’s freight rail system. It’s all about fairness – so that we have a freight rail system that works for everyone: farmers, rail companies, businesses, workers and for our economy,” he said in a May 18 statement.

The bill needs to pass two further readings in the House of Commons before it’s sent to the Senate for consideration.

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