COS appearance at TRAN on Bill C-33

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STANDING COMMITTEE

TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMUNITIES

Bill C-33 Strengthening the Port System
and Railway Safety in Canada Act

Bonnie Gee, President, Chamber of Shipping

23 October 2023 (3:30 – 5:00PM ET)

 

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to appear before the Committee once again.

The Chamber of Shipping represents ocean carriers, shippers and service providers that move Canada’s trade to and from international markets.

Since the introduction of Bill C-33 in November 2022, there have been some developments that should be taken into consideration with respect to the initial intent of the Bill.  These include the passage of Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, the introduction of Bill C-52 and the establishment of the Supply Chain Office that will facilitate the development of a National Supply Chain Strategy as recommended by the National Supply Chain Task Force.

Bill C-47 amends the Canada Transportation Act, which enables the collection of information from any users of the national transportation system to ensure the efficiency and proper functioning of the national transportation system.

Bill C-52, introduced in June this year, seeks to further amend the Canada Transportation Act as well as the Canada Marine Act to enhance transparency and accountability in the setting of port fees.

These Bills together with the National Supply Chain Office should take precedence and are foundational to strengthening ports in Canada by supporting a cohesive and transparent data strategy that will improve supply chain responsiveness and agility.

While we recognize the intent of Bill C-33 is to improve how the Government of Canada manages disruptions, we would caution that taking a piecemeal approach through legislative amendments without a National Supply Chain Strategy may result in some unintended consequences and create even more of an administrative burden for our members.

My comments will focus on the proposed amendments to the Customs Act, Marine Transportation Security Act, and the Canada Marine Act.

Customs Act Amendments

The Chamber of Shipping supports the proposed amendments to the Customs Act as we understand the need to expedite the movement of containers identified for secondary exams to immediately address potential health, safety, and security risks. We strongly urge Canada Border Services Agency to move forward with the adoption of less-intrusive technologies to expedite the examination process and reduce the costs of these exams.  CBSA, as the lead agency for Public Safety, must be adequately resourced to support the expansion of container facilities across Canada in a timely manner.

Marine Transportation Security Act Amendments

A report released by the City of Delta last month associates increased container traffic to the proliferation of drugs and elements of crime in communities.  The report highlights concerns with the Marine Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the fragmented approach to port security responsibilities.  Amendments to the MTSA in Bill C-33 fail to strengthen the security framework and rather focus on expanding the mandate of the Act to include direct and indirect risks to the health of persons involved in the marine transportation system and provide additional authorities to direct vessels.

Expanding the MTSA to regulate health risks that are already regulated under the Marine Occupational and Safety Regulations appears unnecessary. Furthermore, if there is a need to issue an emergency direction to a vessel of concern for health reasons, authority exists with the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Quarantine Act. The intention and desired outcome of the expanded mandate of the MTSA requires further explanation and clarification on how a health risk would be assessed and determined under the Act.

We continue to raise concerns about overlapping and duplicative regulations and authorities, particularly in the marine transportation sector.  Canada takes a multi-agency approach that involves a network of departments which often, from an industry perspective, results in confusion and inefficiencies in decision-making and direction.  A country surrounded by three oceans requires a clear maritime authority that can eliminate gaps and confusion in marine security, safety and environmental protection and strengthen Canada’s global position as a trading nation.

Canada Marine Act

The expanded purpose of the Canada Marine Act in the proposed amendments, which will enable port authorities to maintain the security and enhance the resiliency of supply chains, in a manner that safeguards national security, and promotes healthy competition dynamics is supported.

With reference to the added purpose that enables port authorities “to manage traffic, including mooring and anchorage, in order to promote the efficiency of supply chains,” this is only relevant to vessels with import cargoes. It should be clear that vessels typically seen at an anchorage, are waiting for Canadian export cargoes to arrive and are a symptom of an inefficient supply chain. The direct management of export vessels has no direct influence on improving the efficiency of the supply chain, but are often used to improve the fluidity of supply chains by taking partial loads.

Other amendments to the Canada Marine Act appear to address governance concerns that are only specific to Canada’s largest port, and therefore, proposed amendments in Bill C-33 may be rather onerous for smaller ports.  The Bill does not address the variability in the size, operations, and resource capacity of port authorities, nor does it assess each authority’s capability to meet their legislated mandate.  These recommendations, together with the suggestion to consider the complementarities of regional ports, were also documented in the “what we heard report” during the Port Modernization Review and were not captured in Bill C-33.

In Western Canada, the 2022 revenues for the four port authorities ranged from $4.8 million to $305M. The status of the existing 17 port authorities and possibly new port authorities should be reviewed.

Thank you and that concludes my remarks and I look forward to the questions.

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