Bill C-49, or the Transportation Modernization Act, aims to improve rail transport of grain to make it more reliable and accountable. The 2017-2018 rail backlog cost farmers figures in the billions of dollars and caused the Canadian National Railway Co. to fire its CEO and issue a rare apology to farmers who were affected by the crisis.
Grain Growers of Canada President Jeff Nielsen said the purpose of the Bill would be to give farmers a means of holding the railways accountable for backlogs such as the one last year and the one in 2013, estimated to have cost Western Canada $6.5 Billion. Financial penalties will be used to correct the imbalance between grain shippers and the railways.
“As we speak, my fellow farmers are out planting the grain that will be harvested and shipped to markets this fall. To avoid another shipping crisis … is why we need C-49 passed in law before the House breaks for summer,” Nielsen stated.
The bill is currently being amended and head to the house soon to be debated and voted upon with further amendments to happen later this week. If all goes well, it should be ready for royal assent by next week. And ready to benefit farmers before the next harvest.