Forest Industry Welcomes Facilitator as Step Forward in Addressing Rail Market Power

OTTAWA, Nov. 1, 2011 /CNW/ - The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is pleased that the federal Minister of Transportation, Denis Lebel, has announced that Jim Dinning will be the facilitator to help improve rail freight service in Canada.

Yesterday, Minister Lebel  announced that Mr. Dinning, now chair of Export Development Canada,  would spend the next six months working with Canada's rail shippers and the railways to negotiate a template service agreement and streamlined commercial dispute resolution process.  This follows a government commitment made in March of 2011 to undertake a facilitation process to develop a template service agreement and legislation to implement the recommendations of the Rail Freight Service Review.

"We are fortunate to have someone with the experience and the caliber of Jim Dinning. His appointment is an important step forward in helping shippers deal with our ongoing challenges with inadequate and unpredictable rail service," says Avrim Lazar, the President and CEO of FPAC.  "We are keen to get moving as soon as possible to redress the unfair railway market power identified by the Service Review panel, and confirmed by the government with its commitment to move forward with legislation on service agreements once the facilitation process is complete."

Lazar says unpredictable service as well as excessive freight rates have slowed growth especially in rural Canada, threatened jobs, and hurt Canada's international reputation as a reliable source of goods including forest products.

"With better rail service, Canada could increase economic activity and win a greater share of world markets.  This would not just help the forest industry and the communities that depend on it, but would also deliver more tax revenue for government and even increase business for the railways. We support Minister Lebel's commitment to improve the rail freight system in Canada," he says.

FPAC says it is eager to immediately start working with Mr. Dinning to lay the ground rules for service agreements and an effective commercial dispute settlement mechanism.

FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 240,000 direct jobs across the country.

SOURCE FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

For further information:

Monica Bailey
Director, Marketing Communications
Forest Products Association of Canada
monica.bailey@fpac.ca 613-563-1441 x323

Follow us on Twitter: @FPAC_APFC

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