On May 16, 2017, Minister Garneau introduced the Transportation Modernization Act (Bill C-49) in the House of Commons. Bill C-49 proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act (and other related Acts), as a first legislative step to deliver on key commitments made in support of Transportation 2030 - A Strategic Plan for the Future of Transportation in Canada, announced last November 2016. The Act puts in place clear measures to support fairness and transparency, efficiency, and strong private sector investment in our freight rail system for the long-term, and key measures include:
- New reporting requirements for railways on rates, service and performance;
- A new mechanism, Long-Haul Interswitching, to provide captive shippers across 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, and;
- More accessible and timely remedies for shippers on both rates and service.
Amendments to the Coasting Trade Act and the Canada Marine Act are also included in Bill C-49. The Coasting Trade Act amendments will allow vessel owners to reposition their owned or leased empty containers between locations in Canada on a non-revenue basis, using vessels of any registry without a coasting trade license. While amendments to the Canada Marine Act intend to provide authority to Canada Port Authorities to access additional financing arrangements, namely loans and loan guarantees, through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.