Yesterday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, in the House of Commons.  This Bill was informed by over a year of consultation with stakeholders, including Canada’s chemistry industry.

The Bill 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.”

“We welcome many of the efforts in the Transportation Modernization Act and applaud the Minister’s leadership in recognizing the link between transportation, competitiveness, trade and economic growth,” said CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson.

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.

Measures of relevance to the chemistry industry include:

  • New data reporting requirements for railways on rates, service and performance, to enhance system transparency;
  • Long-Haul Interswitching, a new mechanism to provide captive shippers across all sectors and regions of Canada with access to a competing railway, to ensure they have options;
  • A definition of “adequate and suitable” rail service that confirms railways should provide shippers with the highest level of service that can reasonably be provided in the circumstances;
  • The ability for shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements with railways, to enhance accountability; and
  • More accessible and timely remedies for shippers on both rates and service, to support fair negotiations.

“As founders of TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) and TEAP® III (Transportation Emergency Assistance Program),” Masterson added, we also welcome the Bill’s focus on safer transportation.

CIAC continues to review the detailed components of the Bill, and looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Minister and his department on the establishment of the associated regulations.  For further information, the Transportation Modernization Act can be accessed here and the government’s news release can be found here.

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) is the voice of Canada’s $53 billion chemistry industry and represents more than 50 members and partners across the country. Members of CIAC are signatories to Responsible Care® – the association’s U.N.-recognized sustainability initiative.