Canada’s transport minister seeks to boost port investment and rail safety | So Good News


Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, has proposed legislation targeting port investment and the adoption of additional rail safety initiatives.

The Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act, introduced in the House of Commons, seeks to strengthen and fortify Canada’s supply chain amid geopolitical and climate-related events as well as changes in trade patterns, according to a press release Thursday.

“[The act] aims to change current legislation and modernize the way Canada’s marine and rail transportation systems operate and remove systemic barriers, the release said. “As a result, these changes will strengthen our transportation supply chain and respond to the rising cost of living.”

A summary of the proposed changes affecting ports and railways is available here.

Port changes seek to position Canada’s facilities to be more competitive, enable efficient management of their authorities and promote sustainability of infrastructure and operations.

Rail changes aim to improve the transparency and effectiveness of safety oversight by modernizing key regulatory processes.

The bill builds on strategic reviews that Transport Canada undertook beginning in 2017. In 2017, former Transport Minister Marc Garneau commissioned an independent panel to review the effectiveness of the Railway Safety Act, with the findings released in May 2018.

A Port Modernization Review was launched in 2018 to assess how changes in policy, laws and regulations could help Canada’s port authorities, according to Transport Canada. The review was completed in October. At the time, Garneau indicated that the Canadian government should explore how it responds to private investment in the ports.

Against this backdrop, Alghabra established a supply chain task force in January 2022 to explore how to strengthen Canada’s transportation supply chain. The working group published its final report on 6 October.

“Private investment will continue to be central to our ports with world-class facilities and services, and it will continue to welcome investment as a catalyst for growth and innovation,” Transport Canada said in Thursday’s news release. “A clear and predictable investment climate is key to enabling investors to play this important role, and taking steps to ensure that investment supports supply chain flow will help Canadians get the goods they need, when they need them, to a reasonable price.

“For this reason, a new policy statement on port investment is being put forward, which sets out a clear set of principles to guide the Government’s decisions. The application of these principles will be enabled by new legislative tools being put forward under the proposed bill.”

Meanwhile, the rail component of the legislation responds to the review of the Railway Safety Act, as well as introducing changes to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act of 1992. Proposed changes will also address Transport Canada’s capacity to respond to ongoing and emergency safety risks.

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