Transport, logistics to get significant government resources and attention in the coming year

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

It may not have been the main focus of the federal budget rolled out on March 28th, but supply chains, logistics, and transport did receive some serious nods in the document.

Greg Northey, vice president of corporate affairs with Pulse Canada, a member of the Ag Transport Coalition, says that the commitment within the budget isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about the attention the government plans to put on logistics, including rail way and container traffic.

The first key step is the announcement of a National Supply Chain strategy, that kicks off with $52.2 million over five years to Transport Canada to establish a Transportation Supply Chain Office.

Northey says the office should bring together different departments within the federal government with industry to address supply chain disruptions and possibly coordinate action better when trouble arises.

He adds that one challenge of the current rules and regulations with Canada’s supply chains is that there’s usually not a lot of “teeth” to policy, but that a solid, regulated backstop is required to drive change on some of the ongoing challenges the sector faces.

There is money in the budget for data, too, though Northey adds it’s not necessarily new money. Still, the fact that the budget commits the funds does mean that the government is signalling Transport Canada to focus on these key initiatives. Compelling data through regulation won’t be an easy undertaking, however, and there are some questions to be answered regarding who will have to submit what data and when.

Moving on to interswitching, the budget also outlines a pilot project to extend the interswitching distance between railways. Northey expects there to be a consultation period to hammer out the details, such as how long the distance should be, and he hopes there will be a move to a more permanent commitment.

Listen on to hear the full discussion with Shaun Haney and Greg Northey: 

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