(Winnipeg) June 1, 2012 – Pulse Canada and the Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA) strongly support the Government of Canada’s swift action which restored service to customers of CP Rail.
“This was the right move” said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada and the CSCA. “We have to maintain our focus on becoming the world’s most consistent and reliable supplier.”
Since 2005, shippers of pulses and special crops have had service severely impacted during a container trucker strike, three CN work stoppages, a work stoppage at the Port of Montreal and two CP labour disputes.
“With Royal Assent given to Bill C-39, it’s time to focus on how Canadian exporters are going to strengthen their overall reputation as a reliable supplier” said Greg Cherewyk, Executive Director of Pulse Canada. “The pulse and special crops industry is working with partners from across the shipping community to ensure that Government maintains a sharp focus on executing its rail freight service action plan” said Cherewyk.
“Shippers from all sectors are united on the path forward and we are prepared to work with the Government to ensure the action plan delivers the results rail customers expect” said Cherewyk. In March 2011, the Government announced its action plan to improve rail freight service which consisted of a range of commitments including tabling a bill that gives shippers a right to a service level agreement and a dispute resolution process as well as enhancing public performance reporting.
“Pulse Canada and the CSCA will continue to stress the importance of the commitments the Government has made and that Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, has said are needed in order to provide predictable and reliable transportation for farmers and the trade that markets their products around the world” said Bacon. “The Canadian agriculture landscape is changing and the measures that this Government will introduce will help provide predictability as the industry continues to evolve.”
Pulse Canada is the national association representing growers, traders and processors of Canadian pulse crops (peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas). Canada is the world’s largest supplier of pulses, with exports reaching more than 150 countries.
The Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA) represents companies involved in the merchandising of Canadian pulse and special crops, including bean, chickpea, lentil, pea, canary seed, buckwheat, sunflower seed and mustard seed. The CSCA currently has more than 110 members, ranging from large multi-national organizations to single-plant processors. Together they represent more than 85% of the pulse and special crops produced in Canada.
For more information: Greg Cherewyk, Executive Director, Pulse Canada, (204) 925-4457, firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 18, 2011 the Government of Canada responded to the Rail Freight Service Review Panel’s final report and amongst other measures announced its intention to table a bill to give shippers the right to a service agreement and a process to establish one should negotiations break down.
On October 31, 2011 the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced the appointment of Jim Dinning to lead a six-month facilitation process to develop a template for service agreements and a streamlined dispute resolution process. In his announcement of Mr. Dinning’s appointment, Minister Lebel reiterated the government’s intention to table a bill to give shippers the statutory right to a service level agreement, once the facilitation process is completed.
In November of 2011, Mr. Dinning selected the members of the service level agreement / dispute resolution facilitation committee. From December 2011 through to April 2012, the facilitation committee met on six occasions in an effort to develop a service level agreement template and a dispute resolution process.
On Monday, April 16, 2012 Jim Dinning, the facilitator appointed by Transport Canada, concluded discussions between representatives of the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway and their customers.
Upon completion of the facilitated sessions, rail customers of the facilitation committee concluded:
• all rail customers have the right to service level agreement that clearly defines the services being purchased.
• a framework outlining the elements of service that matter most will allow railways and their customers to negotiate the appropriate levels of service associated with each element.
• the imbalance of power in the relationship between the railway and their customers necessitates a dispute resolution process that will help ensure that negotiations regarding appropriate levels of service result in fair and balanced outcomes.
While the facilitation process did not deliver results in these key areas, it did demonstrate the critical role that will be played by the enabling legislation that the Government committed to introduce at the end of the process. Rail customers on the facilitation committee viewed this as the key outcome of the process.
Canadian businesses large and small from all sectors have come together and found common ground on the core elements and components of service level agreements. Rail customers from all sectors are prepared to work with Government to establish a process that will help establish an agreement should negotiations break down.
With the last of the meetings of the facilitation committee now complete, attention must turn to creating an enabling legislative environment that ensures predictability and reliability are the central focus of railways with all of their customers. Predictable and reliable rail freight service is key to ensuring that Canadian businesses are competitive and making a positive contribution to Canada’s balance of trade and overall economic recovery.