CALGARY, AB: The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is urging the federal government to take measures to hold CN and CP accountable for their performance.
“Like every other player in the system, the railways need to be held accountable for their performance,” says Levi Wood, President of the Wheat Growers.“Current measures fall well short.”
The Wheat Growers were responding to revelations last week that the penalty to the railways for failing to meet the minimum weekly grain shipping requirement is $100,000 per violation. This is a paltry amount when compared to the average weekly freight revenue earned by CN ($184 million) or CP ($115 million).
The Wheat Growers had called for the fine to be $1,000,000 per violation when Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, was being reviewed by the House of Commons Agriculture Committee in April.
The Wheat Growers have also called on the federal government to give shippers the ability to gain reciprocal penalty provisions in service agreements with the railways. As it currently stands, shippers are not able to seek arbitration with respect to the inclusion of such penalties in service agreements. This means shippers cannot hold the railways to account for their performance in any meaningful way.
The Wheat Growers commend the federal government for introducing the minimum grain shipping requirement in March. This has helped reduce the backlog in grain rail car orders from nearly 80,000 to less than 25,000 cars. The Wheat Growers also note the government took steps to strengthen accountability provisions in grain company contracts with farmers.
“The government has taken steps in the right direction,” says Levi Wood. “However reciprocal penalties and a $1,000,000 fine per violation are needed to hold the railways to account.”
The Wheat Growers will be seeking further long-term measures to improve service, capacity and competition in the rail sector as part of the current review of the Canada Transportation Act.
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.