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Message from the President – March 2024

March may have turned to April, and International Women’s Day may have come and gone for another year, but we at the RAC are not quite done celebrating the women tRAILblazers that help run our railways.

In fact, we’re just getting started.

Our Women in Rail conference is back for another year. It’s virtual so you can join from anywhere. And we hope you will join us June 12th, 1-4pm EDT.

This year’s themes include “What does rail look like for women in operations?” and “Career progression in rail and retaining our talent.”

Put a placeholder in your calendar now because you won’t want to miss this. Frankly, the topics are too important to ignore.

The fact is: at 15% of Canada’s rail workforce, everyone knows that we can do better at recruiting, including, and retaining women in rail careers.

Women are changing the face of rail – and making meaningful contributions in every part of the business, and at all levels. But we can and must do more.

For insights, our annual conference will again feature some of the most impressive female leaders and individual rail contributors from across Canada. We will also continue to pay it forward with our Women in Rail scholarship program.

At the end of last year, you may recall that RAC organized a lobby day in Ontario. One of the greatest champions for the shortline tax credit and other initiatives we were proposing was Laura McNichol, Senior Vice-President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Watco Companies LLC. She brought the experience of having successfully lobbied 10 U.S. states to do exactly what we are proposing. Clearly, it worked.

Last week’s Ontario budget included mentions of planned support for Ontario’s shortline railways. We look forward to working with the government to seize the made-in-Ontario growth opportunities in agriculture, automotive, critical minerals, and the many other sectors enabled by rail. Shortlines are critically important in all these areas.

We also commended the Ontario government’s ongoing commitment to the sustainable growth of passenger rail in the province, as shown through substantial investments in GO Transit (Metrolinx) and in actions to restore Northlander rail service (Ontario Northland).

Whether through policy or operations, on the frontlines or in board rooms and offices, Canadian women are indeed blazing new trails and bringing about positive change. As you will read in this month’s newsletter, there is plenty to celebrate on this front – every day, every month, all through the year.