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Message from the President – April 2024

The tabling of the federal budget is always a big deal in Ottawa.

Despite two weeks of orchestrated previews and pre-budget announcements across Canada, the federal government reserved several surprises for Budget Day itself.

Under Chapter 5, Safer, Healthier Communities, RAC was pleased to see a commitment to renew VIA Rail’s cross-Canada fleet. This will mark a major improvement to the important service VIA offers to Canadians in connecting communities from coast to coast.

The budget also includes another step toward dedicated passenger tracks through the high-frequency rail in the region between Quebec and Toronto, where half of Canada’s population lives and where high growth is expected in the coming years.

As Canada’s population booms, our cities need to grow and in some cases, densify. Rail can be part of the solution.

Dedicated tracks are the only way to ensure planned growth in both passenger and freight rail can continue. We must continue to invest in passenger service while protecting critical freight capacity for today and tomorrow.

Much of the budget’s focus was on housing – how to build it more quickly and more accessibly. Where to build is also a key question for policy-makers.

Building in and around transit – while respecting our Proximity Guidelines, of course – is an important way to get more people living in our cities and towns, while also ensuring quality of life and mobility.

Commuter railways, including some of Canada’s largest public transit providers, are important members of RAC. They’ve been looking at the issues of where Canadians live and how they move around our major urban centers for decades.

This month, we profile some of their current thinking and how they’re building for the future – including, in the case of Metrolinx, a transformative transit expansion that is the largest in Canadian history, and the largest currently underway in North America.

Growth comes with chokepoints that need to be worked through and RAC members are doing incredible, collaborative work on that front – all to get people and goods where they need to be.

Government can play a supporting role in that end – including through smart, targeted investments. We continue to press decision-makers at all levels with that in mind.