Feds launching first ever review of Canada Port Authorities

Port of Vancouver container terminal | Photo: Chung Chow

Transport Canada will launch a review of Canada Port Authorities, federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced at Deltaport in Tsawwassen March 12.

Garneau said the purpose of the review is to optimize the role of Canada’s port authorities in the country’s transportation system. This will be the first such review since the authorities were established in 1998.

“Ports are a critical part of Canada’s transportation network and trade corridors and need to remain innovative and competitive in today’s dynamic environment,” Garneau said.

“I invite marine stakeholders and Canadians to provide input that will help shape the future of Canada’s port system so that it continues to support sustainable and inclusive growth.”

Transport Canada is seeking feedback from all levels of government, Indigenous peoples and all other parties with a vested interest in Canada’s port system, including the general public.

Garneau said the review findings will be released in 2019 and will identify any necessary regulatory and policy changes.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority president Robin Silvester expressed support for the review.

“While we believe the current structure of Canada Port Authorities has worked very well to meet Canada’s trade needs, the Canada Marine Act is now 20 years old,” Silvester said.

“We look forward to working with and supporting the efforts of government, including any changes it may consider making to the authority’s mandate or scope to ensure the Port of Vancouver remains economically and environmentally sustainable for the benefit of local communities and all Canadians.”

Association of Canadian Port Authorities president Wendy Zatylny said the current system is efficient but changing rapidly, and the review will provide an opportunity to evaluate the best way to integrate trade, supply chain partners and technology.

“We have already been working with the government on many of the building blocks of such a system, including the Oceans Protection Plan, Transportation 2030, trade-enabling infrastructure funding and the Innovation Agenda,” Zatylny said.

“We look forward to this opportunity to develop the modernized legislative and regulatory frameworks required to make Canada’s ports world leaders in innovative, competitive and sustainable logistics.”

The 18 Canada Port Authorities, which operate at arm’s length from the federal government, handle in excess of 60% of Canada’s commercial cargo in terms of volume.