Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act: Minister of Transport introduces a new bill to make our supply chain stronger

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November 17, 2022 - Ottawa, Ontario - Canadians have experienced supply chain challenges firsthand and the impacts that come with them, like the rising cost of everyday products.

More recently, existing supply chain issues were exacerbated by extreme climate events, changes in trade patterns, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is why the Government of Canada is taking concrete action to strengthen our supply chain and continue to build an economy that works for everyone.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, introduced the Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act in the House of Commons. The Act aims to:

  • amend current legislation and modernize the way Canada’s marine and railway transportation systems operate;
  • remove systemic barriers to create a more fluid, secure, and resilient supply chain;
  • expand Canada Port Authorities’ mandate over traffic management;
  • position Canada’s ports as strategic hubs that support national supply chain performance and effectively manage investment decisions for sustainable growth;
  • improve the government’s insight into ports and their operations; and
  • modernize provisions on rail safety, security, and transportation of dangerous goods.

Together, these measures seek to improve the supply chain, including the competitiveness of Canada’s transportation system and operations that are safe, secure, efficient, and reliable. The proposed measures would support the flow of essential goods and would implement tools to mitigate risks and impacts of future supply chain challenges.

Port System

The Act would allow the Government of Canada to deliver on the completion of the Ports Modernization Review by enabling Canada’s ports to better respond to an increasingly complex economic, social, and environmental operating environment.

Within this context, the Government of Canada recognizes that:

  • private investment will continue to be central to our ports having world-class facilities and services, and it will continue to welcome investment as a catalyst for growth and innovation;
  • a clear and predictable investment climate is key to enabling investors to play this important role; and
  • taking steps to make sure investments support supply chain fluidity will help Canadians get the goods they need, when they need them, at an affordable cost.

For this reason, a new policy statement on port investment is being advanced, which sets out a clear set of principles to guide government decisions. The application of these principles would be enabled by new legislative tools being advanced under the proposed bill.

Rail Safety

Today’s proposed legislative amendments also respond to the Railway Safety Act Review by seeking to strengthen rail safety and security in Canada through an updated framework. The proposed amendments aim to:

  • improve transparency and efficiency;
  • address gaps and emerging challenges; and
  • further improve the safety and security of the various modes of movement of dangerous goods throughout Canada.

The Act represents the culmination of efforts undertaken over numerous years as part of the Railway Safety Act Review, the Ports Modernization Review, and Transport Canada’s work related to the transportation of dangerous goods. These actions will help establish a strong foundation for our transportation system that will build on the National Supply Chain Task Force’s recommendations, particularly around the efficient operation of Canada’s ports.

Quotes

“We are at the phase of our National Supply Chain Strategy where we can start focusing on creating real and tangible change. Today’s proposed legislative amendments are the result of years of hard work, including reviews and numerous consultations considering the various factors that affect supply chain issues and the lives of Canadians. The work to date will greatly contribute to a long-term strategy that will benefit Canadians and our economy for years to come.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • In 2017 and 2018, Transport Canada initiated two separate reviews with the goal of determining the necessary steps that would address supply chain issues as well as help to avoid them in the future.

  • Launched in April 2017, the Railway Safety Act Review, saw the Minister of Transport appoint an independent Review Panel to assess the suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of the Railway Safety Act and its existing provisions. A final report was published in May 2018, which identified rail safety priorities to address outstanding rail safety issues and to modernize Canada's rail safety oversight regime to meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

  • Launched in 2018, the Ports Modernization Review examined the ports system to ensure it has the governance structure and tools needed to adapt to an increasingly complex operating environment, with a view to supporting trade, Canadians, and stakeholders. During the review, Transport Canada considered how potential policy, legislative, and regulatory changes could assist Canada’s port authorities to consolidate their position as key players in the Canadian economy. All actions taken as a result of the Ports Modernization Review will support Canada’s economic recovery and are essential to continued economic development and growth.

  • On October 11, 2022, the Minister of Transport announced the finalization of the Ports Modernization Review, highlighting that forthcoming legislation would seek to achieve several key policy objectives. At the same time, the Minister signalled the intent to update how the Government of Canada considers private investments to ensure ports remain competitive and aligned with Canada’s economic prosperity and security.

  • Transport Canada is introducing amendments to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 to ensure dangerous goods continue to move safely and securely across Canada. The amendments improve Transport Canada’s capacity to address ongoing and emergency safety risks, and enhance enforcement by creating an Administrative Monetary Penalties regime.

  • During the National Supply Chain Summit in January 2022, Minister Alghabra announced that a Supply Chain Task Force would be created. The Task Force's mandate was to produce recommendations on how we can make our transportation supply chain stronger and Canadians' lives more affordable. The Task Force was mandated to provide expert advice and recommendations on actions that could be taken by all levels of government and industry to improve Canada’s supply chain. The Task Force released its final report on October 6, 2022.

  • The Task Force's Final Report focuses on areas of action, collaboration, and transformation as overarching themes to improve Canada’s supply chain. To realize real results for Canadians, a total of 21 actions have been recommended.

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Source: Transport Canada