The Fair Rail for Grain Farmer’s Act received swift passage in Parliament and Royal Assent on May 29.
Along with an order in council, a new set of regulations was recently released. These regulations are essentially the rules used to carry out the intent of this and other acts. Basically they contain more specific guidelines.
The order in council ensures that more than one million tonnes of grain is moved per week through this fall’s harvest.
Amended regulations will allow the government to collect more detailed information from CN and CP Rail on a more frequent basis. This will allow for a continuous and effective monitoring, so that government can plan and react sooner in the event of a spike in demand for all grain movement, and to better foresee capacity shortages in the sector.
I think that is a good thing. The information includes data on railway car cycle, weekly grain traffic by tonnage, carloads, railway car type and corridor travelled. This will include railway car fleet information, including the number of cars that are empty, loaded, in storage, en route, or in bad order.
Railway car order fulfillment information will include the dates orders were placed, name of shipper, the origin and destination of the grain, the total number of railway cars ordered and cancelled by the shipper, and the number of railway cars the rail carrier has committed, placed and cancelled.
Regulations also amend the railway interswitching legislation, prescribing new rates for extended interswitching distances of 160 kilometers for shippers of all commodities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This extends the existing limit of 30 kilometers, increases competition among railways and improves shipper’s access to markets.
The new regulations also specify what constitutes operational terms that may be brought to a rail level of service arbitration, which should be processed within 45 to 65 calendar days. These terms include railway obligations such as the furnishing of railway company cars, pick-up times, and transit times.
Administrative monetary penalties will be used to enforce railway compliance with arbitration decisions. The applicable agency has the authority to issue a notice of violation of up to $100,000 per violation. It may also order a railway company to pay a shipper compensation for expenses arising from a breach of an obligation in an arbiter’s decision.
Regulations further provide for accountability between producer and grain companies. The new provisions address non-compliance for grain contracts between licensed grain companies and farmers that specify a delivery timeframe. Farmers now have a mechanism where they could be paid a penalty amount if their grain deliveries are not accepted within the timeframe defined in their contracts with grain companies licensed by the Canadian Grain Commission.
Souris-Moose Mountain MP