The Minister of Transport today introduced new legislation (Bill C-33) proposing a series of amendments to the Canada Marine Act. These amendments are based on the results of the government’s Ports Modernization Review launched in 2018, as well as the recommendations contained in the recent report of the National Supply Chain Task Force. According to the press release announcing the new legislation, the proposed changes are designed to strengthen the transportation supply chain and modernize the tools that the federal government and ports need to respond to the evolving demands of an increasingly complex system.
We have carried out an initial analysis of the amended Act and have provided below a summary of the changes that are likely to be of most relevance from an ocean shipping perspective. Please note that this is a preliminary assessment only, and we will be reverting to members with additional information and opportunities for input over the coming weeks.
Expanded authority for Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) as relates to traffic management
- CPAs to have new regulatory authority to institute practices and systems with respect to anchorages and vessel traffic management, as well as data sharing in support of supply chain fluidity
New CPA governance provisions
- Maximum number of directors of CPA boards to be increased from 11 to 13
- Chairperson of CPA boards to be designated by the Minister after consultation with board members
- CPAs must establish and consult with three separate advisory committees with respect to port activities (a community advisory committee, an Indigenous advisory committee and a local government advisory committee)
- CPAs must conduct an assessment of their governance practices every three years and report to the Minister thereafter
New CPA financial accountability provisions
- CPAs must prepare quarterly financial reports and publish these on their websites within 60 days after the end of the quarter to which the report relates
- CPAs must submit their borrowing plans to the Minister within one year of the revised Act coming into force (with subsequent plans submitted in accordance with the timeframes contained in their letters patent)
New environmental sustainability requirements
- CPAs must develop five-year climate change plans containing GHG reduction targets with respect to port operations, and describing the activities to be undertaken to achieve these targets
- CPAs must develop five-year climate change adaptation plans describing current and anticipated impacts of climate change on port operations and assets, and outlining adaptation measures to be taken to address these impacts
Additional ministerial power
- Minister will have the power to issue an order requiring any CPA to take any measure or stop any activity that is deemed as being necessary to prevent the risk of immiment harm to national security, national economic security or competition
As previously noted, these amendments to the Canada Marine Act were published as part of Bill C-33 (entitled the Strengthening the Port System and Railway Safety in Canada Act), which is an expansive bill that also contains amendments to a number of other pieces of legislation, including the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Customs Act, the Railway Safety Act, and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. Some of these proposals will also have an impact on marine operations and vessel activity, and we will revert to members with additional information once we have had an opportunity to read through them more fully.
In the meantime, we expect that the Canada Marine Act amendments will be referred to the House Transport Committee for further study and debate, which will represent their next step in the legislative (and consultative) process.