REGINA, Sask. — The province of Saskatchewan is protesting a recent Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decision that increases the western grain revenue cap for railways by 0.9 per cent.
The CTA decision, in effect for the 2002/2003 crop year, allows the primary railways to increase their revenues from the shipment of regulated grains.
“Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway reported combined record profits of $350 million in the first quarter of 2002,” blasted Highways and Transportation Minister, Mark Wartman. “It seems ironic and unfair to increase grain freight rates at this time, when there is a severe economic downturn in the agriculture sector. CN and CP have been given this increase, while producers are expected to absorb higher costs, with virtually no prospect of relief in the marketplace.”
As a result of the decision, the province is now calling on the feds to amend Bill C-34, the federal Grain Transportation and Reform legislation, so that revenue cap calculations can be overhauled to better reflect the railway’s productivity gains.
“Saskatchewan is concerned because this increase doesn’t pass on productivity benefits to grain farmers,” says Wartman. “Instead, the increase reflects only the price change for railway services. The original objective of the revenue cap and grain monitor was to make sure productivity gains went to producers."
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