Industry groups applaud senate passage of Bill C-49

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Some see the bill as an important step in preventing future grain delivery backlogs

A bill some say will help with future grain transportation backlogs is one step closer to becoming law.

Bill C-49 has been making its way through the House of Commons and the Senate over the past several weeks.

On Thursday the bill was passed by the senate with amendments, and sent back to the House of Commons for approval.

Grain Growers of Canada and the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions applauded the move.

“It’s clear the Senate heard farmers’ voices and did its job and provided sober second thought,” said Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) President, Jeff Nielsen in a press release.

“With the proposed improvements, Bill C-49 will provide meaningful tools that the shippers need to hold railways to account, increase competition and bring better rail service to the grain industry.”

Grain farmers proposed a trio of amendment for the bill, as they saw the original bill left too much power in the hands of the railways. They were pleased the senate committee agreed and strengthened the bill.

The amendments include adding soybeans to the Maximum Revenue Entitlement, improving shipper accessibiliity to long-haul interswitching, and own motion power for the Canadian Transportation agency.

“We applaud the work of the Senate, and in particular the Transportation committee, for their thorough review of the Bill,” said GGC Vice President, Art Enns in a press release.

“Now we are counting on the members of the House of Commons to work together and pass C-49 as soon as possible.”

The legislation also includes measures such as reciprocal penalties. Groups in favour of the bill say it will help hold railways to account, while opponents such as the National Famers Union say it will do little to actually make a difference or allow farmers to hold railways accountable.

The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are urging the House of Commons to pass the bill into law as soon as they can.

“The passing of Bill C-49 in the Senate is a major step forward for Canadian grain farmers,” said Kevin Bender, Alberta Wheat Commission chair in a press release.

“The legislation likely won’t fix the current backlog that farmers have experienced in several areas this year, but we are extremely pleased to have mechanisms in place that will help avoid this issue in the future.”