Budget 2017 provided some much-needed attention to freight transportation planning in Canada, including a new National Trade Corridors Fund to help address capacity constraints and freight bottlenecks at major ports of entry as well as improve connections between rail and highway infrastructure.
The budget proposes $2 billion over 11 years to support the Fund’s activities. It also mentions an additional $5 billion will be provided through the Canada Infrastructure Bank to address trade and transportation priorities.
To further assist the investment in goods transportation infrastructure, the budget also proposes a new Canadian Centre on Transportation Data. To support this measure, the budget calls for $50 million over 11 years to Transport Canada to launch a Trade and Transportation Information System.
National data related to goods movement is sparse so such an investment should improve the current situation, says the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
Additionally, the government announced it will be developing regulations for the safe adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles. It’s an important issue for transportation companies and stakeholders going forward. CTA will be holding roundtables with board members on these topics later this month.
Budget 2017 also touched on other matters related to ongoing CTA activities, such as amendments to the Canada Labour Code giving federally regulated employees the right to request flexible work arrangements. CTA had expressed concern to the federal government regarding the potential impact of this legislation on our sector.
In other labour news, the Budget also made changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers’ Program. It was suggested further work be done to develop pathways from the program to permanent residency status – something CTA has been recommending to the government. There were also numerous changes to training programs that will require further analysis to assess their impact on the trucking sector.
Meanwhile, CTA’s call to restore excise tax rebates for the freight transportation sector was not included in Budget 2017. CTA will be following up with the Minister’s office on this issue.