Canada’s transport minister is trying to improve port investment and rail safety

Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Minister of Transport, has proposed legislation targeting port investment and the adoption of other rail safety initiatives.

The Act to Strengthen Canada’s Port System and Railroad Safety, introduced in the House of Commons, aims to strengthen and fortify Canada’s supply chain in the face of geopolitical and climate-related events, as well as changes in trade patterns, according to a news release Thursday.

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

A summary of the proposed changes affecting ports and railways can be found here.

Port changes aim to make Canada’s facilities more competitive, allow for effective governance by their governments, and promote sustainability of infrastructure and operations.

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

The bill builds on strategic reviews that Transport Canada conducted beginning in 2017. In 2017, former transport minister Marc Garneau commissioned an independent panel to review the effectiveness of the Railway Safety Act, the findings of which were published in May 2018.

According to Transport Canada, a port modernization review was launched in 2018 to examine how policy, legislative and regulatory changes could support Canadian port authorities. The review was completed in October. At the time, Garneau indicated that the Canadian government should study how it responds to private investment in the ports.

With this in mind, Alghabra launched a supply chain task force in January 2022 to explore how to strengthen Canada’s transportation supply chain. The task force released its final report on October 6th.

“Private investment will continue to be central to ensuring our ports have world-class facilities and services, and they 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 investments support supply chain fluidity will help Canadians get the goods they need at an affordable cost when they do.” you need.

“For this reason, a new policy statement on port investments is being presented that provides clear principles for government decisions. The application of these principles would be made possible by new legislative instruments being advanced under the proposed bill.”

Meanwhile, the railway component of the legislation is responding to the revision of the Railway Safety Act and introducing amendments to the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Act 1992. The proposed changes would also address Transport Canada’s ability to respond to ongoing and emergency security risks.

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