Government must act to get grain to market

With a rail strike averted and a significant grain transportation crisis ongoing, the NDP is calling again for the government to act on joint running rights and non-performance penalties for rail companies.

“This government has been treating the rail companies with kid gloves while those rail companies are failing to get the job done for Saskatchewan producers,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Saskatchewan doesn’t have enough competition in rail companies. Too many producers are at the mercy of just two corporations.”

Last week, the NDP put forward joint running rights and non-performance penalties as forward-looking solutions to the rail-transportation bottleneck that’s keeping much of last year’s bumper crop still in bins, unable to be transported to market. The government was unwilling to take action then with rail business – but stepped in swiftly to interfere Wednesday in the collective bargaining process.

“We are relieved that workers and CN have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a strike and showing that collective bargaining works,” said Broten. “But, today we still have a grain transportation crisis in Saskatchewan that this government is doing nothing about. Producers have grain in the bins and loans, payments and bills due."

Despite the premier telling media Wednesday that grain transportation is an “essential” service, his government has dismissed all calls to take action, saying last week that it would not take action in the business of the rail companies.Joint running rights or open access allows any rail company to operate on any other rail company's lines in exchange for fair compensation. The NDP has also called for the legislative review of the Canada Transportation Act, currently scheduled for 2015, to be bumped up to 2014. The NDP's proposed changes require both provincial and federal government intervention.

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus