Feds to update ports’ legislation

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by Emily Atkins

The federal government plans to update the legislation that governs how ports operate.

Following the completion of the Ports Modernization Review, the government says it will make changes to give ports the tools they need to respond to contemporary challenges.

“Thanks to the feedback gathered from ports, industry stakeholders, provinces, territories, and municipalities, as well as local and Indigenous communities through the Ports Modernization Review, we can now move forward to strengthen our marine supply chain and help Canadians with the rising cost of living,” said Omar Alghabra, minister of transport.

“We plan to advance our current port system to be even more adaptable and agile, helping to build a more resilient, reliable supply chain system for both Canadians and our economy.”

The government said proposed legislative changes will:

  • Adjust port governance and financial management;
  • Ensure ports’ competitiveness;
  • Strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples and local communities;
  • Help ports lead the greening of the marine sector by promoting environmentally sustainable infrastructure and taking action on climate change;
  • Improve port safety and security;
  • Underpin the development of a new investment policy for Canada’s ports and port infrastructure.

These changes will contribute to the government’s response to the Supply Chain Task Force’s recommendations, particularly around easing port congestion.

Canada’s ports handle more than 88 percent of Canada’s international marine traffic. More than 343 million tonnes of cargo were shipped through Canadian ports in 2021.

Launched in 2018, the Ports Modernization Review examined the port system to ensure it has the governance structure and tools needed to adapt to an increasingly complex operating environment. During the review, Transport Canada considered how potential policy, legislative, and regulatory changes could assist Canada’s Port Authorities to consolidate their position as key players in the Canadian economy.

As set out in the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) must be financially self-sufficient. They don’t receive federal funding to meet operating costs or deficits. CPAs finance their capital projects using their own revenues. But they can also collaborate with the private sector, borrow from a commercial lender or apply for certain federal contributions related to infrastructure, the environment or security.