Leading transportation and infrastructure experts map out strong infrastructure plan



    Assembly urges immediate action on Canada's infrastructure and border
    security challenges

    LONDON, ON, July 24 /CNW/ - With bottlenecks at borders and insufficient
infrastructure putting a crimp in U.S.-Canada and inter- and intra-provincial
trade, Canadian experts on transportation, infrastructure, trade and emerging
markets are calling for transportation upgrades and streamlined regulations
and policies to help keep companies in Canada.
    "Increasingly, companies that outsource the production of finished
products to low-cost countries are shipping those products directly to the
U.S. instead of keeping those inventories in Canada. As a result, not only is
Canada losing manufacturing jobs, but also logistical activities, such as
warehousing and transportation are moving south of the border," said Jacques
Roy, Professor of Logistics and Operations Management, HEC Montréal. "More
research is required to better understand how global sourcing is changing the
flow of goods and its impact on the Ontario-Québec Trade Corridor."
    During a workshop in March at the Lawrence National Centre, Richard Ivey
School of Business, more than 100 business representatives, government
officials, academia, non-governmental organization leaders and students
discussed solutions to improving Canada's transportation system in order to
seize growth opportunities. The event was supported by Transport Canada, the
Ministry of Transportation, Ontario and the Ministère des Transports du
Québec.
    "Efficient transportation corridors fuel economic development and boost
Canada's competitiveness," said Minister Chris Bentley, MPP, London West and
Attorney General, who attended the workshop. "Collaboration among governments
is necessary to fully develop these corridors."
    Recommendations, including harmonized regulatory barriers to facilitate
inter- and intra-provincial trade and an integrated continental North American
freight transportation system to ease congestion at borders, were unveiled in
a report from the Lawrence National Centre today.
    "Canada requires state-of-the-art port operations, rail and road systems
that are geared for the future and not the past," said Brian Gerrior, General
Manager, Imports, Sears Canada. "Fast trains and other forms of public
transport, customs clearances that allow goods to pass freely over borders
with minimal disruption and Free Trade Agreements in place globally, are
needed in order to position Canada at the forefront of international trade and
development."
    According to Jennifer Fox, Assistant Vice President, Operations and
Education, Ontario Trucking Association, border congestion has increased
despite the fact that there are fewer trucks on the road. She suggests
harmonization of regulatory barriers, such as long-combination vehicles
currently allowed in five Canadian provinces and 18 U.S. states and weight
parity between dual and wide based single tires in Canada as solutions. Other
infrastructure improvements, such as more rest stops along the Ontario-Québec
corridor and additional crossing capacity at Detroit-Windsor would also
expedite the transport of goods.
    "These regulatory changes, if implemented, would address capacity
concerns, environmental issues, increase supply chain efficiencies and the
cross-border movement of goods and people," said Fox. "Governments need to act
now to bring about changes to the current state of our economy and reintroduce
competitiveness back to Canada's foreign markets."

    
    Other recommendations from the workshop include:

    -  Coordinated policies across jurisdictions and departments both within
       and outside Canada, including the establishment of an agency to create
       an action plan and monitor results;
    -  An integrated continental North American freight transportation system
       to alleviate congestion at border crossings, particularly rail
       congestion in Chicago. This includes increased rail capacity to deal
       with the timely transport of container products for just-in-time
       delivery, developing dedicated rail lines for freight transportation
       and preparing for environmentally-friendly freight transportation;
    -  Applying a market approach to gateway sustainability when considering
       environmental regulations. International legislation suggests the
       environment has become a factor of change in terms of obligations,
       responsibilities and competitiveness;
    -  Infrastructure development will require significant capital. Recent
       history shows infrastructure projects are coming to market and
       Canadian governments need to demonstrate a track record of performance
       and delivery, otherwise, capital will seek out other partnership
       opportunities;
    -  Research on how global sourcing is changing the flow of goods and its
       impact on the Ontario-Québec Trade Corridor and improved public
       access to statistical data on trade flows within Canada and the U.S.,
       existing infrastructure stocks, physical capacities and utilization
       rates;
    -  A strategy to be implemented for the Continental Gateway between
       Ontario and Québec that recognizes the significant opportunities of
       existing transportation systems, as well as subsystems, air, road and
       rail that can complement the main system; Canada's strategic
       prosperity will be fuelled by industries located in regions of Canada
       and not just in the larger cities and areas;
    -  Evaluation of high-speed rail as part of a national development
       strategy for the future;
    -  Mutual recognition of credentials across Canada to facilitate labour
       mobility within Canada;
    -  To build constituency for change, Canadians must be educated on issues
       of North American competitiveness, trade, transportation and security.
    

    "The common thread that surfaced during the workshop was a sense of
urgency and a call for action," said Dianne Cunningham, Director of the
Lawrence National Centre.
    "Decades of underinvestment has weakened Canada's public infrastructure.
Competing in the 21st century requires efficient and secure infrastructure. We
need immediate action to fix our national transportation system in order to
seize opportunities to grow and thrive both now and in the future."
    At the signing of a historical and timely Memorandum of Understanding on
July 30, 2007, the three governments jointly announced the development of the
Ontario-Québec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor, as part of an action
plan to help keep Canada, especially Ontario and Québec, productive and
globally competitive.
    The transportation sector success stories of partnerships between the
private and public sector date back to the birth of Canada. During this
collaborative planning process, governments will consider advice on where they
have committed to improving transportation infrastructure, adapting policies,
streamlining regulations and making investment decisions wisely, as they
determine together the direction for Canada's transportation system in the
next 10 to 15 years.
    To view a copy of the workshop report, background information and related
documents, please visit www.lawrencecentre.ca.

    About the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management

    The Lawrence National Centre, part of the Richard Ivey School of Business
at The University of Western Ontario, is committed to the development of sound
public policy by providing a national forum for business, academia, and
government to think globally, act strategically, and contribute to the
societies in which they operate. The Centre, located on The University of
Western Ontario campus in London, Ont., creates dynamic networks that bridge
business, academia and government. For more information on the Lawrence
Centre, please visit www.ivey.uwo.ca/lawrencecentre.

    About the Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western
    Ontario (www.ivey.ca)

    The Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario
offers undergraduate (HBA) and graduate (MBA, Executive MBA and PhD) degree
programs in addition to non-degree Executive Development programs. Ivey has
campuses in London (Ontario), Toronto, and Hong Kong. Ivey recently redesigned
its curriculum to focus on Cross-Enterprise Leadership - a holistic
issues-based approach to management education that meets the demands of
today's complex global business world.




For further information:

For further information: Lawrence National Centre, Richard Ivey School
of Business, Dianne Cunningham, Tel: (519) 661-4253, Email:
dcunningham@ivey.ca; Katharina Wolff, Tel: (519) 661-2866, kwolff@ivey.ca;
Richard Ivey School of Business, Dawn Milne, Tel: (519) 850-2536, Email:
dmilne@ivey.ca

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LAWRENCE NATIONAL CENTRE FOR POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

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