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Message from the President -Supply chains

When Canadians buy something, they expect to get it. When they produce something, they expect they can get it to market.

Canada’s railways are integral to delivering commodities and consumer goods safely and reliably. They transport $350 billion worth of goods each year and carry half of this country’s exports at least part of the way to the customer.

Railways are an important piece of a complex puzzle. But they’re only a piece. Like a puzzle, the work isn’t done unless everything fits where it should and each piece is properly in its place.

We need all partners to do their part for complex, modern and global supply chains to work as they should. In recent years, that’s not always been the case. (A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, after all.)

With COVID disrupting global trade and intense attention on inflation and affordability questions over recent months, supply chains are under greater scrutiny.

You may recall that the federal government struck a task force on supply chain matters last year. The group’s final report contained some good recommendations. But frankly, there were also some that will in fact harm the efficiency, resiliency and strength of Canada’s supply chains, resulting in higher costs for consumers and less capital investments by railways. (Make sure to read our response to the report, if you’ve not already.)

As winter’s political winds blow through Ottawa, there will be more pressure on government to ‘do something.’ The entire RAC Team is laser-focused on ensuring our governments don’t do the wrong things: things that slow shipments, things not rooted in fact, things that are prescriptive rather than risk-based, nor things that undermine past and future private-sector investments in supply chain capacity and fluidity.

I can tell you we are working to counter those things. They aren’t workable solutions. We are making our case with facts and the facts are on our side. And we are proposing solutions that will have immediate, positive, and tangible impacts to strengthen supply chains for the future.

We’re having the conversations we need to be having and, as Parliament is now back after its month-long holiday break, we have even more work to do.

The job got a little more urgent with news last week that the long-time deputy minister of transport, Michael Keenan, was retiring, effective immediately. After seven years in his post, he had a fair understanding of railways’ operating realities. We wish him well in his next phase of life and stand ready to work with his replacement to help get her or him up to speed quickly.

This month’s newsletter focuses on rail’s importance to supply chains and the pragmatic actions we are proposing to fix the actual issues our supply chains are facing.

You will see one example of how investments are helping to get more Canadian goods to waiting customers around the world.

Read on to see some data that show Canada’s railways are healthy and strong. (And stay tuned for much more on that front over the coming weeks!)

You will also meet Scott Croome, the RAC’s new director of dangerous goods. Safety, after all, is job one in rail – and it is a precondition for getting vital goods to market uninterrupted.

Over the coming months, we will need your help to stave off ill-advised ideas that won’t fix what needs fixing and could, in fact, make matters worse. We’re all in this together. As Canadians, as a trading nation, we all have a stake. Get ready for an action-packed 2023. Your RAC team certainly is!

Supply Chain Feature

In October 2022, the National Supply Chain Task Force released its final report.

Despite its mandate to produce recommendations to makes Canada’s transportation supply chains stronger and Canadians’ lives more affordable, only some of its recommendations will contribute to that stated effect.

Some of the recommendations, especially those singling out rail for even more regulation, failed to account for important facts. In two cases, the task force’s recommendations would have serious unintended consequences that are diametrically opposed to its mandate. You can read the RAC’s response here.

With inflation at 40-year highs and economic uncertainty building, this is the worst possible time to be contemplating regulatory changes that create more delays in supply chains.

We need efficiency, resiliency, and performance across supply chains.

Our partners at marine ports, in trucking, warehousing, and others across supply chains must all do their parts. Producers and shippers must also have a role in developing solutions to the real problems we face.

We need fact-based action from everyone involved in Canada’s supply chains.

RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau has made these points in op-eds in the Hill Times and the Western Producer, and the RAC Team continues to make these points in our advocacy conversations in Ottawa.

We are proposing real solutions.

Find out more at the RAC’s new supply chain page. And join us in sharing the facts about what is truly needed to keep delivering reliably and efficiently for Canada and Canadians.