Policy statement on port investment
Canada's ports connect people, services, and goods to the rest of the world, driving our economic growth and underpinning our supply chains. Canada welcomes the critical role that domestic and international investment plays in expanding Canada Port Authority infrastructure, developing cutting-edge technologies, and enabling more competitive and resilient port services. Given the strategic role of our ports, the Government of Canada is proposing a new policy statement to guide private investment in its national ports. This approach would provide more clarity and predictability to the market so that investors can act with confidence, while also providing additional due diligence to ensure that investments are in Canada’s national interest.
Moving forward, the review of investments will be modernized and its public interest test adapted to new international and domestic market contexts in the following manner:
- Financial thresholds would be changed to expand the number of transactions that are eligible for assessment, subject to international trade agreements, and new tools would enable the Minister of Transport to intervene in the face of a threat to Canada’s critical port assets and long-term economic performance.
- Investment reviews would include the application of a national security lens in addition to focusing on existing factors such as economic impacts and implications for users, with a view to promoting Canada’s trade objectives, protecting critical infrastructure, and reinforcing market-oriented investor behaviour and competition.
- Public interest factors that inform investment reviews would include an assessment of competition on a regional gateway-level to better reflect inter-port competitive forces.
This proposed new approach would therefore provide not only a clear signal to the market, it would also enable better government oversight capable of ensuring Canada’s ports remain attractive places to invest, their financial self-sufficiency is reinforced, and their operations continue to efficiently serve Canadians well into the future.
Key legislative provisions being advanced in support of the Government of Canada’s new policy on port investment
Bill C-33 proposes targeted legislative changes to support the implementation of this new approach to reviewing port investment, per the changes outlined above. Provisions being advanced would: broaden the scope of review for port investments; provide a regulatory-making authority to collect data from port operators and users to inform policy development and decision making; and in cases of threats to Canada’s supply chain, competition, economic, or national security, enable the Minister of Transport to take swift, decisive action though the issuance of a Ministerial Order. These new measures build upon the strong foundation provided by the Canada Transportation Act.
Broadened scope for reviewing port investments
Proposed legislative amendments will seek to broaden the scope of transactions eligible for review by the Minister of Transport and the Commissioner of Competition by reducing the dollar value threshold for which a transaction becomes ‘notifiable’ under the Canada Transportation Act (CTA).
The threshold, which is set annually by the Competition Bureau, currently rests at $93 million. Transport Canada is seeking to reduce the value for transportation undertakings at Canada Port Authorities to $10 million, except where to do so would be in violation of Canada’s existing trade obligations.
Improved information to support effective decision-making
To ensure investments are made in line within Canada’s competition, national, and economic security objectives, having timely access to targeted, informative data is key. Transport Canada is seeking a regulation-making authority that would seek to enable the Minister to collect data, and to use this data to guide the development of policies that support port users, operators, and supply chain fluidity.
As a part of this process, Transport Canada would develop a comprehensive data strategy in consultation with stakeholders.
Increased agility and responsiveness to threats
Transport Canada is proposing a new legislative authority enabling the Minister of Transport to issue a Ministerial Order under the Canada Marine Act, to enable the Minister to take swift, decisive action in response to significant and immediate threats to the safety and security of Canada’s ports system, and the reliability of our supply chains.
The investment framework is subject to the decisions of Parliament with respect to this proposed legislation. Subject to parliamentary consideration of Bill C-33, Transport Canada will provide a final policy statement.
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