Transport committee calls for through review of Canadian ports

Ottawa-The government needs to conduct a thorough review of the capacity of Canadian ports and their long-term infrastructure requirements, says the Commons transport committee.In a 26-page report to the Commons, the committee made 12 recommendations for the government to act on to ensure the 17 Canada Port Authorities (CPA) can fulfill their critical role in handling exports and imports. The Conservatives and NDP offered some additional suggestions.In addition to the review, the government should reduce red tape and regulatory burdens on the CPAs as much as possible to ensure a more timely, predictable review process for large port infrastructure and expansion projects, the report said.The government should also require the ports to enhance their actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution through binding emission reduction targets and regular reporting on their progress in meeting those goals.The government should also consider raising the borrowing limits governing the CPAs and address inconsistencies and wait times related to the review process for approvals of National Trade Corridors Fund applications.The committee also called for labour representation on the boards of the ports and a requirement for the ports to better manage their relationships with their communities and intermodal partners.The government should also facilitate increased cooperation between the various CPAs including collaborative planning, infrastructure investment and procurement, the report said.It should also give the ports more flexibility in dealing with their particular requirements and facilitate data collection and sharing among them.The committee also called for action to reduce bureaucratic hurdles at the St-Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. because they “impede the full development of St. Lawrence Seaway assets as an intermodal trade corridor of strategic importance from a national perspective.”The committee launched its study of national port infrastructure in February 2022 and visited the ports of Montreal, Halifax, St. John's, Hamilton and Prince Rupert.In meetings with port officials, the Committee heard about capacity and competition issues for Canadian ports, challenges implementing port expansion projects across the country and cooperation among the parties involved in the Canadian supply chain.Attention needs to be focused on capacity throughout the Canadian supply chain in order to identify the key bottlenecks and see how they affect the efficiency of Canadian ports, the Committee was told. “Witnesses spoke about problems with rail and container storage capacity in Eastern Canada.”There is also a need to deal with problems in the railway network “so that containers can move more quickly within the country.”The committee asked the government for a formal response to its report.