Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, received Royal Assent yesterday, May 29, 2014. The bill was introduced into the House of Commons on March 27 as a means to address level of service issues in Canada’s rail transportation system.
The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act includes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, including giving the Canada Transportation Agency authority to regulate some elements of Service Level Agreements, assess monetary penalties if necessary and extends interswitching distances across the Prairies (click here for more details). Other elements include changes to the Canada Grain Act that give the Canadian Grain Commission regulation and arbitration authorities over grain contracting, and enshrines means to acquire more information on shipping volumes from railways.
“This action demonstrates that government is listening to farmers’ concerns,” says Brett Halstead, president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), a group that this week launched a level of service complaint against both CP and CN railways. “It speaks to their ongoing commitment to address service problems with Canada’s rail transportation system and moves us closer to solving the complex grain logistics challenges that we face.”
“This year’s rail backlog not only had a significant economic impact on our growers, but it put Canada’s reputation as a consistent and reliable supplier of quality Canadian wheat on the line. The actions taken by the government on rail transportation will help avoid any risk to Canada’s reputation in the future,” says Kent Erickson, chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC).
The next step is for the government to build the regulatory packages that will support the legislation for Bill C-30 and complete the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) review, says the AWC. The CTA review will help build a rail transportation system that will effectively service Canadian shippers, customers and the economy.