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Message from the President – October 2023

Last week’s Bank of Canada rate decision may have been welcome news for people who are struggling to pay their mortgage or service consumer debt and worried about rates climbing higher.

But Governor Tiff Macklem’s opening remarks had some gloomy language that signals economic tough times could be with us for some time yet.

Global geopolitics and heightened uncertainty. Several quarters of weak growth. Moderating spending. Weaker demand for goods and services. And several ‘sticky’ factors adding to inflationary pressures – despite the bank’s aggressive rate hikes to date.

Macklem’s messages were clear: monetary policy is having the desired impact in restoring supply-demand balance and cooling the economy. But risks and uncertainty abound and aren’t going away.

Rail is a backbone of Canada’s economy in rosy and troubled times. Railways are in constant touch with customers – from forestry and energy to minerals and manufacturing and well beyond. They serve their customers’ needs and act as the conduits for economic activity.

RAC members get millions of people and $350 billion worth goods where they need to be each year.

They directly employ more than 34,000 people, and they support more than 182,000 jobs in communities across Canada.

The average railroader salary, at $102,000, is significantly higher than the national average.

And, as a trading nation, rail is vital to getting our exports to world markets and getting imports in. The lifeblood of Canada’s economy pulses through rail veins.

Rail resiliency in uncertain economic times is a hallmark across our sector. Railways deliver for Canada and move our country forward, as you will see in our profiles of Huron Central Railway and Cando below.

This summer’s strikes at B.C. ports, as predicted, weighed heavily on rail volumes last quarter. As we point out in our data corner, some moment-in-time losses are not recoverable. And that is why government policy is so critical.

I was pleased to appear alongside representatives of CN, CPKC, and Genessee and Wyoming (GWRR) at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport as it studies Bill C-33. GWRR’s Rick McLellan did a great job on behalf of short lines. You can watch Rick’s opening remarks here and find our industry-wide submission here.

It is indeed submission season here in Ottawa. Our pre-budget submission is being pulled together now. Please contact Kevin Mason for additional details or to provide input.

We continue to work with provincial governments, including the newly elected government in Manitoba, on budget and advocacy priorities, and critical regulatory rule- and decision-making that will help ensure railways can keep delivering – safely, reliably, and at world-leading value – for Canada’s economy and all Canadians.