Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre announced
that amendments to the Canada Marine
Act have been introduced in Parliament. These amendments would provide Canada Port Authorities (CPA) with access to federal contribution programs for key infrastructure improvements. They would also enhance the safety and efficiency of Canadian waterways by reforming the enforcement regime.
"It is important that Canada’s ports be modern, efficient, competitive and able to respond quickly to emerging global opportunities and growing business volumes with China and other markets," said Mr. Lapierre. "I believe the proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act will help our ports in this regard."
The Canada Marine Act governs the marine sector in Canada. It has improved the effectiveness of major ports by creating a National Ports System composed of independently managed port authorities for ports that are vital to Canada’s international and domestic trade. It also provides Canada’s major ports with the necessary tools to operate commercially and efficiently.
The act, which received Royal Assent in 1998, was subject to a legislative review in 2003. The proposed amendments follow up on this review and establish a framework that respects accountabilities and provides CPAs with access to federal funding for infrastructure. The Minister of Transport, in certain cases, will have full delegation to increase a port authority’s borrowing limits without Governor-in-Council’s approval.
In order to benefit the smaller CPAs who are required to identify nominees for their boards of directors, the amendments provide for a reduction in the minimum number of directors on the boards of most port authorities
. This will result in quicker decision-making and support responsive and efficient management of ports. Other amendments will make administrative modifications and clarifications.
The Canada Marine Act, introduced in the House of Commons in 1996, implemented the federal government’s National Marine Policy, which was announced in December 1995, and called for the modernization of the marine management and regulatory regime by introducing business discipline to achieve greater efficiency in the marine transportation sector.