Transport minister introduces a new bill to strengthen Canadian supply chain

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Transport minister Omar Alghabra is looking to create "real and tangible" change to Canada's beleaguered supply chain with new legislation. PHOTO courtesy CP Rail.

Ottawa says it’s taking “concrete action” to strengthen the Canadian supply chain, whose challenges have greatly impacted manufacturing over the past two years.

Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, introduced the Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act in the House of Commons. The Act aims to:

  • amend current legislation and modernize the way Canada’s marine and railway transportation systems operate;
  • remove systemic barriers to create a more fluid, secure, and resilient supply chain;
  • expand Canada Port Authorities’ mandate over traffic management;
  • position Canada’s ports as strategic hubs that support national supply chain performance and effectively manage investment decisions for sustainable growth;
  • improve the government’s insight into ports and their operations; and
  • modernize provisions on rail safety, security, and transportation of dangerous goods.

Together, these measures seek to improve the supply chain, including the competitiveness of Canada’s transportation system. The proposed measures would support the flow of essential goods and would implement tools to mitigate risks and impacts of future supply chain challenges, according to the government.

“We are at the phase of our National Supply Chain Strategy where we can start focusing on creating real and tangible change. Today’s proposed legislative amendments are the result of years of hard work, including reviews and numerous consultations considering the various factors that affect supply chain issues and the lives of Canadians. The work to date will greatly contribute to a long-term strategy that will benefit Canadians and our economy for years to come,” Alghabra said.

Port System

The Act would allow the Government of Canada to deliver on the completion of the Ports Modernization Review by enabling Canada’s ports to better respond to an increasingly complex economic, social, and environmental operating environment.

Within this context, the Government of Canada recognizes that:

  • private investment will continue to be central to our ports having world-class facilities and services, and it will continue to welcome investment as a catalyst for growth and innovation;
  • a clear and predictable investment climate is key to enabling investors to play this important role; and
  • taking steps to make sure investments support supply chain fluidity will help Canadians get the goods they need, when they need them, at an affordable cost.

For this reason, a new policy statement on port investment is being advanced, which sets out a clear set of principles to guide government decisions. The application of these principles would be enabled by new legislative tools being advanced under the proposed bill.

Rail Safety

The proposed legislative amendments also respond to the Railway Safety Act Review by seeking to strengthen rail safety and security in Canada through an updated framework. The proposed amendments aim to:

  • improve transparency and efficiency;
  • address gaps and emerging challenges; and
  • further improve the safety and security of the various modes of movement of dangerous goods throughout Canada.

The Act represents the culmination of efforts undertaken over numerous years as part of the Railway Safety Act Review, the Ports Modernization Review, and Transport Canada’s work related to the transportation of dangerous goods. These actions will help establish a strong foundation for our transportation system that will build on the National Supply Chain Task Force’s recommendations, particularly around the efficient operation of Canada’s ports.

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