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FPAC applauds new Canadian rail bill as critical but recommends changes to ensure success

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FPAC applauds new Canadian rail bill as critical but recommends changes to ensure success

February 26, 2013 - 07:55
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OTTAWA, Feb. 26, 2013 (CNW) -The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) supports the intent of the Fair Rail Freight Service Act, Bill C-52, to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of the rail system but it recommends changes to help reduce the regulatory burden and help the legislation reach its stated intent.

FPAC appeared today before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities that is studying the legislation. The bill was brought in by the Government to level the playing field and address the imbalance in market power between shippers and the monopoly power of the railways.

"The bill is an important step forward in helping to ensure that rail shippers can deliver their goods in a timely, predictable and cost effective way to meet the needs of global customers be they in China, Europe or the United States," says the President and CEO of FPAC, David Lindsay. "However we want to make three recommendations that would improve the bill and help restore balance in the rail system."

FPAC recommends:

  • Remove all references to the word "operational" so that arbitrators would not have to sift through mountains of railway operational data. This would add costs and a burden that would diminish the power of the legislation.
  • Delete all reference to "statutory obligations to other shippers and third parties". We do not believe it was the government's intent to have external and irrelevant information drawn into an arbitration over a very specific service failure between a shipper and railroad.
  • Insert a new stand-alone section to define "adequate and suitable accommodation" and "service obligations". Shippers and the railways have already agreed we must hold firm on what a service agreement should address. Otherwise we risk diluting the legislation over time.

"We believe that if the committee approves these three adjustments to C-52, the legislation will better succeed in its intent and help Canadian companies secure their place as preferred suppliers to the world." says Lindsay. "That would help support 230,000 employees and the 200 rural communities that rely on the forest products sector."

FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.