The Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) has welcomed the final report of the National Supply Chain Task Force and is eager to see many of its recommendations set in motion. ACPA is pleased to see its input reflected in the task force’s report, including recommendations for the federal government to:
– “Support port modernization, including financial flexibility and autonomy, enhanced project approvals and digitalization of supply chains.
– “Develop, implement and regularly renew a long-term, future-proof (30- to 50-year) transportation supply chain strategy.”
– “Establish a Supply Chain Office to unify the federal government’s responsibility/authority over transportation supply chain management across federal departments.”
– “Digitalize and create end-to-end transportation supply chain visibility for efficiency, accountability, planning, investment and security.”
According to the task force, over the 50-year period from 2020 to 2070, investments of $4.4 trillion (or approximately $88 billion per year) in marine and transportation infrastructure will be required to meet projected growth, including $110 billion at seaports.
“The Supply Chain Task Force says that ‘Both the public and private sectors need to increase investment in marine, road, rail and air transportation assets to facilitate economic growth.’ Canada’s port authorities couldn’t agree more,” said ACPA President and CEO Daniel-Robert Gooch. “Canada’s port authorities operate our biggest ports, through which most Canadian trade flows. For them to make the needed investments, however, requires greater financial flexibility than Canada’s port authorities have today, and a continued federal role in financially supporting trade infrastructure.”
The federal government’s Ports Modernization Review, which Transport Minister Alghabra has committed to acting on before the end of the year, represents a critical opportunity to better prepare ports to meet Canada’s resilient trade and climate aspirations. For Canada’s port authorities, this requires:
– The continued ability to make decisions on the right kind of investments, through strengthened, responsive governance reforms that maintain the arms-length of government nature of ports, with appointments of qualified directors in a timelier manner.
– Allowing ports simpler but risk-based access to interested private capital. Ideally, instead of borrowing limits, minimum credit ratings and/or reasonable industry standard debt servicing metrics could be established for each CPA to permit borrowing within normal market ranges.
– Making the National Trade Corridors Fund permanent and considering other federal funding vehicles specifically designed to support decarbonization of ports and marine transport and ageing critical infrastructure at small ports.
“The Supply Chain Task Force endorsed our call for modernization to provide ports with more authority, financial flexibility and autonomy,” said Mr. Gooch. “Canada’s port authorities agree and look forward to engaging with the federal government on implementation of these and other modernization recommendations in the report.” (ACPA photo of Daniel-Robert Gooch)