Transport Minister introduces amendments to the Canada Marine Act



    OTTAWA, Nov. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today introduced proposed
amendments to the Canada Marine Act. These amendments will strengthen 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.
    The amendments would also include provisions regarding amalgamation of
CPAs and introduce new provisions to make the enforcement of minor violations
easier to manage. In addition, Minister Cannon will also be 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
maintained or enhanced in support of Canada's trade objectives," said Minister
Cannon. "These amendments would 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 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 proposed amendments and complementary policy initiatives
would 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 will also pursue other
policy initiatives in key areas intended to improve the competitiveness of the
Canadian marine industry.

    Proposed amendments
    -------------------

    Access to Contribution Funding

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

    Borrowing Limits

    A tiered approach would be implemented that would permit larger CPAs -
those with $25 million in operating revenues for three consecutive years - to
move to a commercially based borrowing regime. Certain CPAs would 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 would allow for a consistent
approach to facilitate any potential future amalgamations of CPAs and would
complement the regulations established in May 2007 with respect to
amalgamation.

    Governance

    The Act incorporates new proposed 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 planning to bring forward a modernized National Marine Policy
as it relates to ports that better reflect the current global marine operating
environment, following Royal Assent of the amending Bill.

    Streamline Borrowing Limit Process

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

    Land Management

    Letter Patent of CPAs will be revised to allow for a wider array of uses
for lands that CPAs lease or license to third parties. This will allow 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
will support and enhance other major transportation policies brought forward
by the department such as the National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways
and Trade Corridors released his year. The framework will guide investment and
policy measures that respond to unique geographic, trade and transportation
opportunities in key regions, and enhance infrastructure at key locations.

                                                               November 2007
    




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/listserv/ 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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