The House of Commons has approved a one year extension to grain transportation rules implemented in 2014 to move grain during the rail backlog in Western Canada.
Several provisions that were part of Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, were scheduled to be repealed on August 1, 2016. MPs unanimously voted in favour of extending them as part of a motion on Wednesday. Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, Conservatives Gerry Ritz and Chris Warkentin, as well as NDP ag critic Ruth Ellen Brosseau were among the members who spoke about the motion.
“The content of these provisions, such as interswitching and level of service obligations, impacts all shippers and postponing the repeal of these provisions would allow the government to fully assess the freight rail transportation system for all commodities, in the context of its response to the review of the Canada Transportation Act and the development of a long term plan for the sector,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau, when he announced the Liberals’ plan to extend the rules back in April.
The extension will maintain longer interswitching distances for railways in Western Canada at 160 kilometres, rather than 30 kilometres. The government will also retain the right to mandate CN Rail and CP Rail to move a minimum volume of grain per week.
The Senate approved the motion last Wednesday.
Listen to Wade Sobkowich of the Western Grain Elevator Association discuss the government’s plan to extend the grain transportation rules here.