For Immediate Release
Canada Transportation Act Review
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) put forward its submission to the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) Review in December 2014. SARM has been eager to see the recommendations coming out of the Review and was pleased to see the report tabled in Parliament last week.
While SARM recognizes the importance of the entire supply chain, rural municipalities (RM) are especially affected by grain transportation. Some recommendations from the Review would bring about positive outcomes for RMs. For instance, we support the Review’s recommendation that the CTA define and treat producer-car shippers as shippers; this would ensure that producer cars are treated on an equal footing as other shippers and that their accessibility is not limited. This change would entitle producer-car shippers to all shipper protection provisions in the CTA, including level of service provisions.
SARM is also encouraged that the Review recognizes the value of short line railways in our national rail network. Short lines operate just under a quarter of Saskatchewan rail lines. When short lines are unable to get their car orders filled, producers and shippers often resort to trucking grain which can cause significant damage to RM roads. Given the role short lines play in Saskatchewan, we support the Review’s recommendations to make more infrastructure funding programs available to short lines. We also urge the Federal Government to act to improve levels of service for short lines.
SARM believes that disputes must be resolved in a cost-effective, fair and timely manner. We are happy to see the Review shares this perspective through its recommendation that the Canadian Transportation Agency establish a dispute resolution unit to provide more effective and timely informal dispute resolution options.
However, other recommendations are concerning to SARM. The Review recommends that the Maximum Revenue Entitlement (MRE) Program be modernized, with a goal of total elimination within seven years. SARM strongly urges the Federal Government to commit to keeping the MRE in place because this mechanism ensures that railways cannot overcharge for the movement of grain. At the same time, SARM also believes that the recommendation to include more crops into the MRE formula would provide a net benefit for producers. All in all, a thorough consultation and research process should be conducted before any changes are made to the MRE.
The Review does not include recommendations that outline a minimum standard for grain movement. SARM is disappointed with this, as weekly minimums ensure there is a constant movement of grain and help to prevent and reduce backlogs that we have seen in the past.
SARM appreciates the Federal Government’s commitment to fully consult with stakeholders on the Review’s recommendations, and looks forward to being an active and engaged participant in these consultations to ensure the best outcomes for its members. “Transportation is an essential piece to a strong economy, particularly in land-locked Saskatchewan,” said SARM President Ray Orb. “While we have concerns with some of the recommendations presented, we are optimistic that the Review will lead to positive changes in Canada’s transportation system.”
Much work lies ahead and SARM looks forward to working with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to improve Canada’s transportation network.
SARM’s complete CTA Review submission can be found here.
– 30 -For more information please contact:Jay MeyerExecutive Director(306) 761-3721
“SARM, the Voice of Rural Saskatchewan”