Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Act, received Royal Assent on June 26, fulfilling the Government’s commitment to bring forward legislation aimed at improving rail service for industries that rely on it to transport their product, including agriculture.
The canola industry, like many other crop types, relies on rail service to move large quantities of seed, oil and meal to export positions. Ensuring service is not just adequate but also reliable and consistent is key to the success of Canada’s canola industry, says The Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA). The CCGA has been an active participant in the Rail Service Review and highlighted the importance of this impending act in this Canola School episode.
“Canada’s canola farmers appreciate the government’s efforts to address the long-standing issue of poor rail service, first through the Rail Service Review and then Bill C-52,” says Rick White, general manager of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), in a press release. “We look forward to having the bill implemented to see exactly how the changes will be interpreted and applied, and if any significant improvements in service result.”
Bill C-52 provides shippers the right to a service agreement, includes an arbitration process to obtain a service agreement if one cannot be directly negotiated, and incorporates fines of up to $100,000 per incident against the railways for breaches of service agreements. “We will have to wait and see if these new tools really deliver what they are intended to do,” says White.
Once Bill C-52 is implemented, third-party measurement will be vital to assess its utility prior to the statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act in 2015. The review presents a valuable opportunity to correct any shortcomings that are revealed by tracking the railways’ service level performance.
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