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The Government of Canada tabled Bill C-33 – Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act. Bill C-33 (44-1) – An Act to amend the Customs Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Marine Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act was introduced yesterday in parliament.
The BC Marine Terminals Operators Association (BCMTOA) has been looking forward to the results of the Port modernization review since our submission to the Minister of Transport in 2018. In its submission to then Transport Minister Marc Garneau the BCMTOA stressed the need for a national ports framework that is more open and transparent and to redefine the concept of mandates in federal legislation in a manner that better explains the role and responsibilities of Canada’s port authorities, while providing for enhanced accountability. Stakeholders must also have established avenues for meaningful input into decision-making, a critical component of ensuring that our ports remain globally competitive.
In our most recent submission to the National Supply Chain Task Force, the BCMTOA recommended that the Government of Canada establish a truly national framework approach for the port and maritime sector in this country. One enabling mechanism is the implementation of a national transportation strategy involving provinces, municipalities, indigenous communities, and industry that identifies and protects national transportation corridors like the Asia-Pacific Gateway.
The BCMTOA applauds the government of Canada for its acknowledgement of the importance of the private sector in creating jobs, growth, and capital investments in Canada’s marine economy.
Notably we are supportive of these specific elements of Bill C-33.
The Bill expands the authority of ports to regulate and manage vessel traffic (essential to the VFPA’s AVTM implementation) – including moorage and anchorage to promote the efficiency of the supply chain. It expands the role of the Minister to direct some Port activities and may support intervention to prevent interference in the supply chain when needed. In addition, bill C-33 will demand data sharing to support the supply chain visibility objectives of the VFPA (reinforced by the National Supply Chain Taskforce recommendations).
This legislation amends seven existing laws including the Canada Marine Act, the Customs Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act, and the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act. The Bill seeks to expand the authority of ports to include vessel traffic and anchorage management and includes provisions to support the Government of Canada’s new policy on port investment.
The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently released a report entitled “Improving Efficiency and Resilience in Canada’s Supply Chain.” The report made 43 recommendations aimed at increasing the strength and resilience of regional, national, and global supply chains, including actions to improve supply chain visibility, identify and address bottlenecks, and improve current and future infrastructure. Many of the recommendations align with the National Supply Task Force Report and it also includes establishing a National Anchorage Strategy that supports Canada’s trade ambition and provides surge capacity during supply chain disruptions.
BCMTOA continues to engage with supply chain partners to understand the impact and develop appropriate responses. The Minister has positioned the elements introduced in C-33 to be essential to “help address a root cause of inflation by strengthening the country’s supply chain through port competitiveness and rail safety”. As such, Bill is likely proceed swiftly to second reading and be referred for consideration by a parliamentary standing committee.
Stephanie Jones MBA
President, BC Marine Terminal Operators Association
Ph: (604) 379-5339
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