The Port of Churchill (October 18, 2011)
The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act will give Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers the freedom to market their grain as they choose and unleash the true economic potential of the prairie grain sector by removing the mandatory requirement to market wheat and barley through the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).
The Harper Government has made Canada's North a cornerstone of its agenda. The strongest expression of our sovereignty comes through presence and actions. The Government will continue to exercise leadership in the stewardship of northern lands and waters.
The Harper Government is taking action to ensure that the Port of Churchill continues to be an important northern shipping port. It acknowledges that there will be a period of adjustment for the Port when the Act is passed; however, the Port of Churchill will remain an important option through which farmers ship their grain to market.
As part of the ongoing commitment to farmers and the importance of the Port as a shipping option, the Government will support shipments of grain, including oilseeds, pulses and special crops, through the Port of Churchill. Additionally, the Government will continue to explore short term initiatives to support the ongoing operations of the Port.
Once the Act becomes law, the Harper Government will:
- Provide an economic incentive of up to $5 million per year for five years to support the shipping of grain, including oilseeds, pulses and other crops, through the Port through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
- Provide up to $4.1 million over three years to maintain the port over the transition period, through Transport Canada,
- Work with the Churchill Gateway Development Corporation on Port infrastructure improvements and extend the project completion date an additional two years, from 2013 to 2015, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, and;
- In consultation with all stakeholders, our Government will explore options for the future of Churchill and the Port of Churchill.
In addition to operating the Churchill airport and providing funding to support Via Rail's passenger train service to Churchill and several other remote communities, The Harper Government has committed more than $13 million in 2010 to implement important upgrades to the Churchill Airport.
Since 2007, the following strategic investments have been made by the Governments of Canada and Manitoba:
- $20 million each for improvements to the rail line
- $4 million each for improvements to the Port
- $1 million each for marketing and development of the Port
The shipping season in Churchill is limited, lasting from July to November. On average the Port loads 18-24 vessels each year, of which 13-20 are grain vessels. While CWB shipments normally account for over 90% of the Port of Churchill's cargo traffic, this represents 2% of western Canadian grain shipments in any given year.