Transportation review recommendations

Ritz says shippers should be able to charge for cars not delivered on time

Winnipeg — Ongoing assessment of the grain transportation system and better protection for small shippers are two of the eight recommendations made by the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG). They will now be submitted to the Canada Transportation Act Review for consideration.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was in Winnipeg Monday to announce the findings of the group’s final report, which he said “provides recommendations for improving the crop logistics system, including comprehensive input into the review underway.”

Greater transparency in the rail market was another recommendation made by the working group, which was composed of 18 stakeholder groups representing growers, handlers and millers.

“I think the biggest thing,” said Ritz. “Would be the data that railways aren’t sharing with shippers. They measure on what they supply, when it comes to cars, not what the market is actually asking them to deliver. There is a double standard there — they say their commitment is to supplying the cars they’re going to supply, not what’s actually asked of them.”

The report was the third and last mandate for the working group, which previously provided recommendations to the Rail Freight Service Review.

“Our mandate was to establish a consensus position within the grain supply chain,” said Murdoch MacKay, commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission and chairman of the CLWG. “I think the most important thing here is that all 18 organization came together and have all agreed to the recommendations in the report… it’s a consensus.”

Ritz said that a greater reciprocity is also needed to ensure a level playing field between shippers and producers, which the report also advocates for.

There needs to be a “reciprocity of penalties,” he said, noting that railways are able to charge producers $110 per car not filled on time.
“But there is no reciprocal penalty if they’re late delivering it or late picking it up,” the minister said.

Ideally, that reciprocity would be enshrined in a service-level agreement between producers and companies.

“But we want to make sure that everybody have the ability to sign those, and if it takes regulation to make sure that CN or CP come to the table to negotiate with companies X, that’s something we’re prepared to do,” Ritz said.

The final report of the arms’ length Transportation Act review, led by former cabinet minister David Emerson, is expected this winter.

“Now it’s up to David Emerson and his group to see the value of what we’re recommending,” said MacKay.

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