With a vision “of a safe, secure, green, innovative and integrated transportation system that supports trade and economic growth, a cleaner environment and the well-being of Canada’s middle class,” Minister Garneau presented his transportation strategy, Transportation 2030.

The strategy places a significant focus on the role transportation has in the economy.  A message the Minister had stressed at a roundtable hosted by the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) on October 20, 2016. At the time, Minister Garneau asserted that “transportation is an economic portfolio.”

The chemistry sector requires rail services for more than 70 per cent of deliveries to its markets. This makes the industry the second largest shipper by rail in Canada. More importantly, for more hazardous products, rail often represents the safest and most environmentally responsible mode of transportation.

CIAC has long advocated that a reliable, safe, and competitive rail transportation system is a cornerstone to the economic sustainability of the chemistry industry in Canada. Minister Garneau seems to have heard the message. The government’s strategy reflects many of the recommendations made by CIAC.

“We welcome Transportation 2030 and applaud the Minister’s leadership in recognizing the link between transportation, competitiveness and economic growth,” said CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson. “As founders of TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) and TEAP® III (Transportation Emergency Assistance Program) we also welcome the strategy’s focus on safer transportation.”

Measures of relevance to the chemistry industry include:

  • Investing $10.1 billion for transportation infrastructure to help eliminate bottlenecks and building more robust trade corridors.
  • Introducing legislation in the spring of 2017 to advance a long-term agenda for a more transparent, balanced, and efficient rail system that reliably moves our goods to global markets:
  • establish the ability to apply reciprocal penalties between railway companies and their customers in their service level agreements;
  • ‎better define ‘adequate and suitable service;’
  • improve access and timelines for Canadian Transportation Agency decisions; and
  • address the future of the Maximum Revenue Entitlement and extended interswitching.
  • Pursuing legislation that will allow reciprocal penalties in service level agreements between railway companies and their customers.
  • Putting in place a new data regime to support evidence-based decision making by government and all stakeholders that is available to all who operate, oversee, analyze and use the transportation system.
  • Moving up its review of the Railway Safety Act from 2018 to 2017 to further improve railway safety.
  • Introducing requirements for locomotive voice and video recorders to be used during accident investigations.

Furthering the message of how critical Canada’s transportation system is for the well-being of the economy, Minister Garneau asserted that “we need our railways to be efficient and competitive. We need goods to get where they’re going – be it here in Canada, across the border to the United States, or to a port for shipment overseas.” The proposed measures in the strategy provide a promising path forward to make this happen.

Masterson added “Minister Garneau has been highly accessible and consultative in the development of the Transportation 2030 strategy. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Minister and his department on the implementation of this strategy.”