Bill amending the Canada Marine Act receives Royal Assent



    OTTAWA, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today celebrated that Bill C-23,
which amends the Canada Marine Act, has received Royal Assent. This Bill
strengthens the operating framework for Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) by
modifying the current borrowing regime, providing for access to contribution
funding, and clarifying some aspects of governance.
    "Bill C-23 is a priority for our Government and is the fourth major
transport bill passed in this minority parliament. It is a necessary component
of our gateway and corridor strategies," declared Minister Cannon.
    The amendments include provisions regarding amalgamation of CPAs and
introduce new provisions to make the enforcement of minor violations easier to
manage. In addition, Minister Cannon is moving forward on a number of policy
initiatives to modernize the National Marine Policy, streamline the process
for borrowing limits and enhance flexibility in management of port lands.
    "In recent years, the global economy has shifted dramatically and the
transportation system must adapt to take advantage of these changes. The
Government must ensure that the competitive position of our national ports is
enhanced in support of Canada's trade objectives," added Minister Cannon.
"These amendments promote financial flexibility for the marine transportation
sector, consider the long-term role of ports in their communities, and foster
partnerships with other levels of government."
    The Canada Marine Act governs the marine sector in Canada. It has
improved the effectiveness of major ports by creating a National Ports System
composed of independently managed port authorities for ports that are vital to
Canada's international and domestic trade. It also provides Canada's major
ports with the necessary tools to operate commercially and efficiently.
    The Canada Marine Act, which received Royal Assent in 1998, was subject
to a legislative review in 2003. Transport Canada undertook a number of
studies to assess key recommendations before proceeding with any legislative
action. With the rapid and significant changes in global marine trade,
Transport Canada has reconsidered its amendment strategy to better reflect
these changes and to ensure that it promotes the competitiveness of the marine
transportation sector. Overall, the amendments and complementary policy
initiatives help establish a framework for CPAs that promotes the development
of necessary infrastructure, maximizes operating efficiencies, and fosters a
more flexible, commercially based financial environment with increased
accountability.
    The Canada Marine Act implemented the federal government's National
Marine Policy, and called for the modernization of the marine management and
regulatory regime to achieve greater efficiency in the marine transportation
sector.

    

                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
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                              CANADA MARINE ACT
                              -----------------

    The Canada Marine Act (CMA), which received Royal Assent in 1998,
established the first single, comprehensive piece of legislation to govern
many aspects of Canada's marine legislation and allowed for the establishment
of Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) along with continued divestiture of certain
harbour beds and port facilities. The Act facilitated the commercialization of
the St. Lawrence Seaway and contained provisions for the further
commercialization of federal ferry services.
    The Act has significantly contributed to the marine sector, and improved
the efficiency of Canada's marine system. The CMA required the Minister of
Transport to complete a review of the provisions and operation of the Act and
report back to both Houses of Parliament during the fifth year following Royal
Assent. A review panel undertook consultations with stakeholders and prepared
a report that the Minister of Transport tabled in the House of Commons in
June 2003.
    The Review Report made two general recommendations and a number of
specific recommendations concerning implementation issues related to CPAs, the
St. Lawrence Seaway, public ports, pilotage and ferries. The report also
included a number of observations on general marine issues.
    Overall, stakeholders, and in particular CPAs, have reacted positively to
the CMA Review Report. The principal concern identified during the review
focused on the marine sector's financial flexibility (especially for CPAs) to
maintain economic viability and respond effectively to changing market demand,
as well as access to federal funding for infrastructure investment.
    To address issues that are most important to the marine industry and to
maintain Canada as a gateway for international trade, the department will not
limit its activities to legislative amendments, but is also pursuing other
policy initiatives in key areas intended to improve the competitiveness of the
Canadian marine industry.

    Amendments

    Access to Contribution Funding

    Canada Port Authorities are permitted to apply for contribution funding
related to infrastructure, environmental sustainability and the implementation
of security measures.

    Borrowing Limits

    A tiered approach is being implemented that will permit larger CPAs -
those with $25 million in operating revenues for three consecutive years - to
move to a commercially based borrowing regime. Certain CPAs will be subject to
a code that governs borrowings (in their Letters Patent) rather than a fixed
borrowing limit, as well as enhanced accountability requirements.

    Amalgamation

    The legislation includes provisions that allow for a consistent approach
to facilitate any potential future amalgamations of CPAs and complement the
regulations established in May 2007 with respect to amalgamation.

    Governance

    The Act incorporates new amendments related to governance that are more
responsive to CPA needs and promote a more stable, long-term management
framework.

    Enforcement

    An Administrative Monetary Penalty Regime has been introduced to make the
enforcement of minor violations easier to manage.

    Policy Initiatives

    Modernized National Marine Policy

    To complement these changes, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and
Communities is bringing forward a modernized National Marine Policy as it
relates to ports that better reflect the current global marine operating
environment.

    Streamline Borrowing Limit Process

    For those CPAs not moving to a commercially based borrowing regime, the
process to obtain increases to borrowing limit capacity is being streamlined
and a comprehensive set of guidelines will be provided to assist them in this
process.

    Land Management

    The Letter Patent of CPAs is being revised to allow for a wider array of
uses for lands that CPAs lease or license to third parties. This allows for
greater revenue generation in the short term while protecting the long-term
potential use of these lands of port operations.

    Our ports continue to handle more traffic every year, and the value of the
goods handled at Canada's ports reached almost $144 billion in 2006. The
combined approach of legislative amendments and targeted policy initiatives
supports and enhances other major transportation policies brought forward by
the department such as the National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways
and Trade Corridors released last year. The framework guides investment and
policy measures that respond to unique geographic, trade and transportation
opportunities in key regions, and enhance infrastructure at key locations.

                                                                    June 2008
    




For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Subscribe to news
releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news/ and keep up to date on the
latest from Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in
alternative formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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