This release was issued under a previous government.

On March 7, the federal government issued a temporary Order-in-Council directing Canada’s two major railways to increase delivery service to address the backlog of grain currently waiting to be exported to market. Additional federal legislation is being considered, with input from provincial governments.

“The livelihoods of our producers and our international reputation rely on the timely and efficient transport of all of our goods to market. Alberta is advocating for changes to federal laws that would strengthen the grain-handling transportation system. We need greater financial accountability that is more equally distributed in the supply chain, and increased competition between rail carriers as an incentive for better performance.”

- Verlyn Olson, Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

The Alberta proposal recommends changes to the Canada Transport Act and the federal Fair Rail Freight Service Act to:

  • Clearly define service obligations for all parties in the supply chain.
  • Include direct and substantial commercial penalties for rail companies in response to poor service. These penalties should be paid directly to customers negatively affected when delivery obligations are not met, a principle that should apply to all parts of the supply chain.
  • Increase rail track access so grain shippers can receive competitive service from more than one rail company. This includes extending allowable inter-switching distances and improving running rights provisions.
  • Increase investigation and enforcement powers for the federal transportation minister and the Canadian Transportation Agency to address inadequate service.

In addition, Alberta is calling for the establishment of performance measures and benchmarks for the entire grain supply chain. The publicly reported system would help identify service shortfalls and bottlenecks in a timely manner, so issues can be resolved more quickly.

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

Related information

Government of Canada news release (Mar 7)

Multimedia

Listen on SoundCloud: Minister Olson on rail service for grain shipments


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