With far too much of Saskatchewan's bumper crop still sitting in bins and producers taking the hit due to the grain-transportation crisis, Saskatchewan's NDP is demanding action from the provincial and federal governments, including enabling joint running rights for rail, also known as open access.
"We've heard from producers all over the province who are incredibly frustrated that they can't get their crop to market," NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon said. "They have done their part this year to produce an incredible crop and we know they'll keep doing their part by producing big crops in the future. Now, we just need the government to hold up its end of the bargain and take meaningful steps to solve the transportation problem. The current crisis and inaction is costing producers real and significant money."
Wotherspoon said Saskatchewan producers raised concerns to the provincial government about potential problems when the federal government eliminated the Canadian Wheat Board without considering or developing a plan for grain transportation. Their concerns were dismissed and now the federal government's five-year investigation into the source of the rail bottle-neck is likely to prove far too slow a process for producers who have bills and loans due now.
"The provincial government needs to take action and a first step would be to immediately call on the federal government to enable joint running rights for rail," Wotherspoon said. "Additionally, Saskatchewan should urge the federal government to put more pressure on the rail companies and to implement and enforce rail performance standards including penalties when railways don't perform."
Joint running rights or open access permits any rail company to operate on any other rail company's lines in exchange for fair compensation.
Saskatchewan's NDP also wants the legislative review of the Canada Transportation Act, which is currently scheduled for 2015, to be bumped up to 2014 to allow for swift and meaningful action.