The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) believes that the new Fair Rail Freight Service Act is moving in the right direction to help shippers retain and create jobs for the benefit of the Canadian economy. The legislation was tabled after years of complaints by rail customers about inefficient and inadequate service from the railway monopoly.
“Ensuring a fair and balanced relationship between shippers and the railways will help the forest products industry retain and create jobs for the benefit of the entire Canadian economy,” says the president and CEO of FPAC, David Lindsay. “We give the proposed new legislation a passing mark.”
FPAC is encouraged to see that many of their proposed remedies for leveling the playing field have been addressed. This includes the right to a service level agreement, a dispute settlement mechanism and significant penalties for non-compliance. The requirement for performance standards and a communication protocol are also welcomed.
However FPAC is disappointed that the legislative proposals will not cover existing confidential contracts, forcing companies to potentially wait for years before they can access the measures outlined in the legislation. There are concerns about implementation; for example the proposed remedy process requires further clarification. FPAC also hopes the House will deal quickly with this legislation on an urgent basis.
“Forest companies are located in far flung rural communities and rely on a single means of transportation to get their goods to market. We have waited for a long time for the government to take action to level the playing field between shippers and the railways,” says Lindsay. “The proposed measures will go some way in helping to ensure that shippers can reliably serve their customers both national and internationally.”
The Canadian forest products industry now supports more than 230,000 direct jobs and is the mainstay of about 200 rural communities.