Minister-led Roundtable: Transportation of Grain by Rail - Table Setter


October 20, 2016, 10:00AM to 11:30AM | Saskatoon, SK

Table Setter

Discussion Purpose

To hear grain producers’ perspectives on the longer-term agenda for transportation of grain by rail in Canada that supports the Government’s objectives for economic growth, a cleaner economy, and a country that remains well-positioned to compete globally.

Roundtable Objectives

Gain producer insight into grain related transportation priorities aimed at increasing inclusive economic growth by addressing inefficiencies or bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Discuss key policy and regulatory issues that will impact the efficiency, sustainability and use of national supply chains.

Consider what information and data requirements are needed by governments, industry and other stakeholders to inform investment decisions and track performance of national supply chains.

Consider whether new partnerships or mechanisms are required to strengthen engagement with public and private sector stakeholders in order to identify and prioritize critical needs related to grain by rail and national supply chains.

Ultimately, the roundtable is geared toward discussing what is required to build on the success of Canada’s supply chains, including the grain handling and transportation system, and how best to align and coordinate partner investments and activities in a way that provides incremental economic benefit for all Canadians.


  • Shifting trade and production patterns highlight the importance of efficient and adaptable transportation corridors to access global markets for all Canadian commodities including grain.
  • Forecast growth and demographics in emerging markets over the long term are expected to lead to increased demand for key commodities, including grain.
  • Supply chain competitiveness remains essential to the reputation of Canadian producers, to attract investment for production in Canada.
  • Individual transportation modes perform well, but issues persist in the intermodal context (e.g., pressures at ports where marine vessels, terminals, railways, and trucks intersect), to meet the needs of all commodity groups.
  • Pressures to control costs and maximize capacity utilization are growing. Buffers that were previously available in transportation systems are being reduced as industry seeks new sources of productivity improvements and economies of scale. This places a greater premium on well-synchronized hand-offs between transportation modes and logistics activities.
  • Grain production is increasing but volumes can vary from year to year. Transportation systems must be resilient in order to meet the needs of all users.
  • Heightened public awareness and scrutiny of the social, environmental, and safety and security impacts of transportation developments/projects reinforce the importance of early and strong engagement with implicated parties – from Indigenous groups, to provinces, territories, and municipalities, to citizens – in transportation planning. Similarly, supply chain partners expect access, engagement and consultation with the responsible government jurisdictions on major policy and regulatory issues affecting their performance.

Key Index Question

How do we maximize the economic value of Canada’s key global supply chain, including a plan for Canada’s grain handling and transportation system, to reap full benefit from trade opportunities in global markets for producers?

Roundtable Discussion Questions

  1. What will enable efficient and reliable transportation of Canadian commodities to global markets?
  2. Grain is an important commodity that relies heavily on the broad transportation system of Canada. What would maximize the long-term efficiency, competitiveness and reliability of Canada’s supply chain for grain?
  3. What information and data are required to improve the efficiency and reliability of the transportation supply chain for grain?
  4. How can the Government of Canada best engage to support a commodity based transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of grain producers to get their products to global markets?